Here are some ideas to keep your iPhone photography fresh and embrace new skills to take your mobile photography to the next level! There will be some challenges suggested to test yourself and to keep going long after most of us have given up on our new year resolutions. This includes:
- Photo 365
- Themes and styles
- What else?
The iPhone, as well as mobile photography as a whole, offers so many opportunities to develop photography skills. While my wheelhouse is iPhone photography, this post would apply to any camera you have with you most of the time.
Let’s make 2023 the year we push and make more of all those features, accessories, services and apps. I aspire to do more with my photography, so I am writing this as much for myself as anyone else!
Photo 365 or Project 365
Talking about challenges, how good would you do if you had to take a photo every consecutive day and post it for the world to see, ideally with some commentary for a whole year? I’m not talking about random BeReal-type photos but measured photos where you try to capture a moment that tells a story or imparts something. That’s what a Photo or Project 365 is and which I highly recommend, having done two myself.
This gets you attuned to not missing opportunities, taking more photos regularly, and trying out new subjects and scenes than you might otherwise. That’s not to say that it can’t be difficult, even after a few weeks you may say what do I do next but preserve, even when you can’t go outside, the nights are long, the weather is unforgiving, or there is nothing new to photograph, it is very rewarding and you’ll pick up good photography habits that will last much longer than a year. If you can’t commit to a Photo 365, do a weekly version, a Photo or Project 52, where you post weekly instead.
Find a platform where you can ideally interact with other people also on the same journey, and can encourage each other, whatever works for you but my first Photo 365 was on Flickr, which is still around and a bit later on a mobile photography forum, called Mobitog, where they have a dedicated forum for these challenges.
Challenge: Consider signing up for a Photo 365/Photo 52.
Themes and styles
Whether you're doing a Photo 365 or not, we can all get stuck in a rut, with little motivation to take photos at times and when that happens, especially on mobile devices, it is good to consider what else you could do to keep things interesting and get some shots in. Something that may be helpful is different themes or styles you can try, here I put together a broad list to consider:
- Black and white
If you have the time, sometimes you’ll want to plan your shots in advance, what are you are hoping to achieve, what could you do differently, if you have an afternoon to take some photos for example? The easiest way to do that, for me, is to go somewhere interesting, A museum for example, I know there will be opportunities for taking photos relating to architecture, culture, items, people and spaces, if not more. Stations I find are great for trying different photography, offering abstract, architecture, black and white, minimalism, motion, people, shadows or spaces subjects and scenes and so forth. That's not to overthink it and this is all subjective but sometimes you do have to mix it up.
Challenge: Take some different types of photos than you usually would plan a shoot for a couple of hours where you get more creative and try new techniques or subjects.
A project is something with a predefined outcome, in other words, something specific you want to achieve. I don’t have loads of examples but we have already covered one, the Photo 365 and here are a few more:
- Photo book
The idea is to do something with the photos you take, bring them together, curate them, and build something from them. A project will be specific to your circumstances, it may be more something like I want to be more adventurous with editing photos or to better organise my photos but whatever it is think big if possible and put some time aside for it.
Challenge: Select a project you can accomplish over the year, a photo book is a good starter project, that can make a great gift for friends or family.
Who wouldn’t want to see some of their best photos as a big print on the wall? A whole other medium many of us never get to is printing, whether that’s home printing or using an online printer service, it can be very rewarding and opens up other opportunities.
Printing is not without its challenges depending on how far you want to take it but it’s something well worth exploring. It does have a cost of course and mobile photography may present additional challenges like how big you can print a given photo, though there can be ways around that.
I’d try a printing service rather than buying a home printer but it may take some experimentation, the typical issue is that a printed photo doesn’t look the same as what it does on the screen perhaps being not as bright.
Depending on how much time and money you want to spend on this, there are ways around this, requiring extra know-how and investment but just getting started is the main task at hand and pick a printing service, maybe a local one, a print studio that perhaps you can go to and chat to staff for advice.
I have printed a photo book using Blurb, as a gift and I have used a high-end print studio for a few prints, theprintspace which I put in frames but nothing much more recently other than some Canon SELPHY postcard prints.
Challenge: Print three photos with a size of around 8”×10” or A4 that are high quality
Do you know who doesn’t win competitions? People who don’t enter competitions! Photo competitions haven’t been my cup of tea but they're a good exercise to evaluate your work and take a chance, I did enter Apple’s macro competition, of course, I didn’t win but I still enjoyed trying to put something together.
Careful though for any photography competitions that require a fee, do your research on how trustworthy they are. Competitions could be local, national or worldwide, with lots of different categories or specialities, sometimes including mobile.
Challenge: Enter one photography competition this year!
A few more thoughts on what else might be worth considering with mobile photography this year:
Photo sharing like it’s 2010! Sharing photos in general is a good motivation, to take more photos and play around with them more, whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. I have noticed since I left social media for a while at least, I have done less photo editing and I am slightly less active with my photography. Glass is a good app too, though it's not free and it supports most platforms now including Android.
Own your content! Blogging like this site is another option, you can control the content to your liking, write photo essays, give readers behind the scene look at your work, set up newsletters and more. There are many different platforms, free and paid that can be used for this. This site uses Ghost, which is a nice option though I am not yet using it to its full potential. Ghost Pro is paid service from the developers of the platform where as I went with build your own approach.
Apps, apps and more apps! Having and trying different photo and camera apps can be a good motivator, especially looking out for new and interesting updates that be a kickstart for doing something new. Investing in at least one photo editor I’d recommend if possible, Darkroom being my current choice on iPhone and iPad, with maybe VSCO as my cross-platform choice, available also on Android. I am a fan of the Reeflex Pro Camera app on iPhone but it’s had a lag issue on my iPhone 13 Pro that’s stopping me from using it, that I have reported it to the devs and I am currently using Camera+ instead, which seems better optimised though I have had an occasional issue too when a photo doesn’t save.
AI is here! AI is only going to get more persuasive and more practical in 2023, I have been using ChatGPT over the last couple of days and it’s hard not to be impressed, it makes Google look somewhat antiquated in comparison. AI Photo generation is something I want to check out myself, DALL·E 2 in particular, along with ChatGPT is cutting-edge stuff! This of course raises all sorts of moral and ethical questions that will only become more pressing but knowing how this stuff works gives you a head-start maybe.
2023 can be the year to take your mobile photography to the next level by embracing new skills and challenging yourself. You can start by signing up for a Photo 365 and taking different types of photos than you usually would. Make a project out of your photos, such as a photo book, and consider printing some of your best work. Research some photo competitions and enter one, share your photos on social media, experiment with different photo apps, and look into blogging for more control over your content.
Featured image by Daniel Leone on Unsplash