Inspiration

What is Smartphone Photography? Is it a profession?

The world has many outstanding photographers that use DSLR cameras to take stunning images. But are there smartphone photographers who make a living by taking photos with a smartphone? 

Before I answer these questions, let’s take a look at what smartphone photography is. 

Smartphone photography is the art of taking, editing, and sharing unique images with your mobile phone with or without using a tripod, remote shutter, and add-on lenses. Some photographers use their smartphones to prepare their photoshoots with a DSLR, others use a cellphone to create commercial images and make money doing so.

After reading my definition of smartphone photography, you might have some additional questions like:  

  1. Do people make money by taking smartphone images?
  2. Are mobile photos as good as DSLR photographs?
  3. What are the most significant differences between a smartphone camera and a DSLR?
  4. How can I become a smartphone photographer?
  5. Which mobile is best for smartphone photography?
  6. Do I need accessories to take outstanding smartphone images?
Can I make Money Selling Smartphone Photos Online

Do people make money by taking smartphone images?

Many smartphone photographers make money by selling their images online. There is a pretty neat platform called EyeEm.com that started as a smartphone photography marketplace. Nowadays, they sell more than smartphone images. Read more on EyeEm and other online marketplaces like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and Foap in this blog

You can make money with either device! Check out these fantastic smartphone photographers that make money selling their images online. 

Matt Louder: uses Huawei phone and iPhone
Coco Liu: uses iPhone
Bimo Pradityo: uses Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Sinan Sağlam: unknown device

Another way to make money with smartphone photography is by generating assignments with private individuals or companies. You can promote yourself through a website, social media like Instagram, and LinkedIn. 

The major difference between these two examples is the effort in generating clients. The online profiles will do the work for you for a specific commission. You can even choose to sell your photographs both ways and develop an offline and online income. 

Are mobile photos as good as DSLR photographs?

Many people have different opinions on this matter. There is no one right or wrong answer. Which device is better for shooting professionals images depends on what kind of photographer you are, the subject, the situation, and what sort of picture you want to take. 

Check out this video of Tony and Chelsea Northrup in which they put a Canon EOS RP, a Samsung S20 Ultra, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max to the test. You can see that some points are better on the Canon EOS camera, but it gets beaten in many other situations by the Samsung Galaxy S20 (and probably with the new S21 as well). 

And if you can’t get enough of these cool comparison videos, check out this one from Peter McKinnon. He asks a professional photographer which images were taken with a Pro DSLR and which ones with a Samsung Galaxy S10+.

What are the most significant differences between a smartphone camera and a DSLR?

While comparing mobile devices to DSLR cameras is like comparing apples to oranges, they have a similar objective. But what are the most significant differences between the two? 

  1. Focal length: is the most apparent difference between these two devices. The focal length of a smartphone camera lens is much shorter than that of a DSLR camera. Mobile devices use a crop factor to recreate a 35mm equivalent. 
  2. Sensor size: which is essential for taking images in low-light situations. 
  3. Pixel size: DSLR cameras don’t overdo the number of megapixels; they focus on the size of it. The bigger the pixel, the more light and information they can capture.
  4. Aperture: smartphones (well, almost all of them) have a fixed aperture. So the diameter in which light enters the camera’s lens is not flexible. Aperture gives you creative freedom when it comes to depth of field. 
  5. Optical zoom: smartphone cameras use fixed lenses that don’t zoom; their focal length does not change. DSLR zoom lenses are made up of glass elements that can move back and forth to magnify the image. Smartphone manufacturers try to solve this ‘problem’ by introducing multiple lenses, each with a different focal length and digital zoom, which uses software to crop the image and let the subject appear closer. 

How can I become a smartphone photographer?

Start with the basics to become excellent at smartphone photography. Learn about shutter speed, aperture, ISO, manual focus, HDR, RAW file format, and white balance.

You can use these articles to get started.

Secondly, learn how to create beautiful and appealing compositions. Use leading lines, negative space, rule of thirds, symmetry, bokeh, and perspectives to your advantage. 

Thirdly get yourself a decent camera phone. It does not have to be a flagship to be able to create stunning images. Please read all about it in the next paragraph. 

Which mobile is best for smartphone photography?

Which mobile phones can create the best smartphone images? I will give you a hint; it does not necessarily be the one with the highest amount of megapixels. 

To make your search for the best camera phone as easy as it can be, I have created a free checklist for you to download. You can find it in my post: “What should I look for in a Phone Camera? A Complete Buyers Guide.”

It discusses the most important features to look for in a smartphone.  

Not enough time to go through the checklist? Here are my favorite smartphones at the moment, categorized in affordable phones and high-end devices

Affordable camera phones

Do I need accessories to take outstanding smartphone images?

You do need some accessories to make the best possible images with your mobile phone. Don’t worry; they do not have to break the bank. I use the following gear items regularly. Together they cost around $60.

To get to the next level of smartphone photography, I use these items as well:

You can read more about the quality of the Moment lenses in this blogpost

Tripod and remote shutter for smartphones

A tripod will keep your smartphone camera steady while taking images. Typically you will have to touch the screen to release the shutter button. The mobile will be subjective to camera shake, with unsharp pictures as a result. Combine a tripod (or monopod) with a wireless remote shutter, and you do not have to touch the smartphone to take a picture. 

You can use any tripod with a universal screw for your mobile device. Please pick up a universal smartphone mount and attach it to your tripod. You can read more about using a smartphone on a tripod in this article. And if you would like to know why I use a Gorillapod, check out this post.

Smartphone photography is the next best job!

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