Abstract Photography on a Smartphone

Abstract photography on a smartphone, also known as abstract mobile photography, is a relatively new medium in the photography world. Some love it and some hate it, and still others care only about the final photo regardless of the type of camera that took it.

No matter where you stand regarding smartphone photography, there’s no doubt that it has made its presence known in the field. In this article we’re discussing the good and the bad of smartphone photography, then sharing tips on how you can take your abstract mobile photography to the next level.

Pros of Smartphone Photography

Pros of smartphone photography tips
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  • Available on demand – the best benefit when it comes to smartphone photography. Phones are lightweight and carried with you pretty much all the time, meaning you are ready to take the perfect shot whenever you want.
  • Quick editing – Using the camera on your smartphone gives you a valuable edge in the editing department. You can easily edit on the go. Simply open your favorite photo editing app and you can start making changes right away.
  • Easy sharing – With a simple tap of a button you can share your work with family and friends online, wherever they may be.
  • Hassle-free backup – If you tend to forget things or like to make sure your photos are never lost, then smartphone photography has got you covered. Smartphones have an automatic backup option that syncs the photos you capture directly with an online storage account. That way, your work will be saved even if something happens to your device’s storage. Not to mention that online storage platforms let you access the uploaded images any time you want. Want more storage? Consider an external harddrive for your smartphone.
  • Low learning curve – Let’s face it – using a smartphone camera to take pictures is very easy to learn. In its simplest form, all you have to do is launch your native camera app and tap a button.
  • An introduction to the industrySmartphone photography is a great way to test the waters of photography in general. This can be quite useful if you’re trying to decide between keeping it as a hobby or pursuing it as a career.

Cons of Smartphone Photography

Cons of smartphone photography
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  • The price. The higher the quality and the specs of the camera, the more expensive the smartphone may be.
  • Amateur look. If you’re trying to start a business as a professional photographer, then you may not look as professional arriving at the project venue with just your phone. Compare DSLR, mirrorless, and smartphone cameras to learn more.
  • Small size. The smaller size of a smartphone camera supports portability and availability on-demand, but it also means that they’re equipped with small sensors. Smaller sensors can negatively affect image quality, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Tricky handling. The size and ergonomics of smartphone cameras start to appear when you hold the device to take a photo. There are no dedicated spots for gripping the phone, making it prone to drops while using it for photography. You could always get a smartphone rig, though, like the BeastCage from BeastGrip.
  • Limited control. Smartphone cameras have come very far, but there is still much they cannot do. With fixed aperture and focal lengths, smartphone photography has a ways to go. A mobile photography or filmmaking app can provide the additional control for which you’re looking.
  • Low-quality zoom. When compared to optical zoom, digital zoom on smartphone cameras can significantly reduce the image quality. Learn more about the difference between optical and digital zoom if you don’t believe me.
  • Weak flash. If you’re looking to overcome low lighting issues for smartphone cameras, then you may try turning on the flash. Unfortunately, lack of control over the flash intensity and position means the photos are likely to come out looking faded or washed.
  • Prone to damage. The lens of a smartphone is basically a bullseye on the device. With how much we use our phones, it’s almost inevitable to get a cracked or scratched lens. Learn how to fix a scratched lens to save yourselve a few sheckles.

Abstract Smartphone Photography Tips

Here are some of our favorite pointers to help you get on the right track with your smartphone abstract photography.


Reflections in smartphone photography
Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

The following tips will help you take stunning reflection shots with your smartphone.

  • Find reflective surfaces in your surroundings. For example, bodies of water, glass walls, ice, cars, or sunglasses.
  • Shoot an interesting subject that stands out, such as people, animals, or even buildings. Include both the actual subject and the reflection.
  • Get rid of any item that’s not the subject in order to minimize distractions.
  • Embrace the imperfections and distortions often found on reflective surfaces.
  • Highlight the symmetry between reality and reflection.


Silhouettes in smartphone photography
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

The following tips will help you take amazing silhouette photos with your smartphone.

  • Place your subject against the light source. When outdoors, for example, have your subject blocking the sun.
  • Focus on the outline of a subject rather than its details or, for people, their facial expressions.
  • For bigger or closer subjects, be sure to manually set your exposure.
  • Shoot moments of movement. Burst mode or live photo is ideal for this purpose.
  • Try capturing images from a low camera angle.


Framing in smartphone photography
Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Below are tips to help improve your framing when doing smartphone photography.

  • Try to find natural frames in your surroundings to incorporate into your camera’s frame.
  • Make use of your camera’s grid.
  • Incorporate unique shapes into your shot that direct focus towards your subject and support framing.
  • Use lines within your framing.
  • Create the best possible background out of your shooting location. You can add depth by manipulating backgrounds and foregrounds.
  • Try different camera angles, not just eye-level.


Texture in smartphone photography
Photo by Anna Asryan on Unsplash

Below are tips to help you capture texture in smartphone photography.

  • Minimize camera shake and boost stability by using a timer or a tripod for your shots.
  • Use macro lenses for close-up shots to highlight textures.
  • Pay attention to lighting to find the best settings. When outdoors, for example, shoot when the sun is hitting your subject.
  • Make use of repeated lines and shapes to create patterns.
  • Avoid reflections, shadows, and glare.
  • Stay away from shallow depth of field.
  • Try out different camera angles (this tip works for more than just capturing texture!).


Minimalism in smartphone photography
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Minimalist photography is all about simplicity. Here are tips for capturing great minimalist photos.

  • Avoid clutter by capturing the cleanest possible lines and frames.
  • Utilize spatial isolation to prevent the intersection of your subject with any other element.
  • If you’re planning to include shapes, then make sure they are as simple as possible.
  • When incorporating lines, it’s best if they are parallel to the real edges of the image.
  • A single pop of color can emphasize the minimalist quality of the photo.

Negative Space

Negative space in smartphone photography
Photo by Sunisa Misa on Unsplash

The following are tips to help you improve the visual appeal of your smartphone photos using negative space.

  • Simplify the shot and minimize distraction by getting rid of any item that’s not the subject.
  • Incorporate open space to highlight the subject and add context to the image.
  • Use empty space to relay the scale and size of the subject.
  • When capturing motion, the area towards which the subject is moving should have more space than the opposite direction.


Shadows in smartphone photography
Photo by Coline Haslé on Unsplash

Here are some tips to help you incorporate shadows into your smartphone photography.

  • Take photos under strong light.
  • Try shooting during the golden hour (just before the sun rises) and the blue hour (just after the sun sets).
  • Capture lines, shapes, and patterns created by shadow.
  • When working indoors, use shadows created by window light.

General Photography Tips for Your Smartphone Camera

  • Avoid digital zoom.
  • Use natural or aesthetic lighting before turning to flash.
  • Keep your hands stable or try using a tripod.
  • Play with exposure levels.
  • Make sure the lens is clean.
  • Don’t forget about night mode!

Is Your Smartphone the Best Camera for Abstract Photography?

Abstract photography on a smartphone has its pros and cons, and you can be the judge of whether or not it’s something that interests you. If you decide to try it out, be sure to remember our tips to take your abstract smartphone photography to the next level.

Have any other tips worth sharing? Comment them below, and I’ll add them to the list!

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