6 Keys To Make Professional Pictures With A Phone On Layovers

You finally have reached your layover destination and between getting the passengers off, washing off the airplane smell and sleep deprivation you decide you MUST go exploring. But, you don't have a camera, or maybe you didn't want to risk bringing your Canon EOS 1300D wide lens pro camera and all its bells and whistles: it's heavy and more than likely may get stolen plus... it is the same as walking around with a big tourist sign on your forehead!

Right, now for many reasons you all have with you a smartphone and you still want to make amazing pictures.

You have a good group of colleagues and you want to make the best out of the experience and the privilege of being Crew, something to remember and something to publish in your social media to show everyone at home how amazing it is to be International Cabin Crew. And maybe even to print and frame (wow!) being kind of proud of your artistic flair in your travels.

This is a necessary list for you then.

First of all you are in good company, the use of a smartphone as proper camera is very popular and effective if you know what you are doing. Why?

Your pricey little gadget is:

- quick and easy to use;

- always in your bag;

But careful, because it does NOT have:

- super powers, remember that you have to save some battery for the phone itself, it could be crucial in a foreign city especially with jet lag;

- functions or as many settings as a camera has (but just enough if you know what you are doing);

Stated that, you hold the power to maximize advantages and minimize disadvantages. Here is 5 steps, let's call them your "keys" to having the skills of capturing the moment, plus the most important 6th "key" for you social butterflies:

1. Be quick and ready

Have it handy more than ever, remove bulky and complex covers before leaving the hotel and be ready to shoot! Be quick by getting used to using the camera shortcuts on your phone; for iPhone's you can short cut to camera by simply swiping the screen from right to left (when it is on lock screen). This is priceless when you are in a foreign country where you are seeing everything new for the first time, from a beautiful street dancer to capturing a local way of cooking, you don't have time to waste punching in your passcode to unlock the screen, the moment will be over! Additionally from that if it's cold and you have gloves on, pulling off the glove and wiping the screen and the moment has already passed. It's now as easy as going into any electronics shop you can buy phone-friendly gloves for few euros.

This might be a no-brainer to say (but maybe not), you must keep it clean, especially the lenses area. A lens cleaner tissue for sunglasses will do for a must-have in your bag, you will be travelling in all types of climates so you don't want a fogged up lens of a piece of sand ruining the shot.

2. Settings

Take 20 minutes, (maybe during the flight sneak to the lavatory or flight deck with your phone), to be familiar enough with the main settings of the application you plan to use. It will save time when you will be trying to follow the point 1. You can lock the focus and exposure with iphone by focusing on an object by tapping on it, then again hold the screen for an extra 3 seconds and you will see the AE/AF Lock on the top of the screen now has been activated, this will mean even if you move or want to reshoot the shot, the phone will still hold onto the exposure and focus. Discover HDR (High Dynamic Range), maybe you have seen this pop up on the top left corner of your photos you have taken. You can turn this function on or off, or auto (which you will now refrain from using auto function) by clicking on HDR when you are in the "take a photo screen". Basically, it is a function that highlights both the light and dark parts of your photo, so when there is over exposed dark and light in the picture - HDR switched on, all other times HDR off. This is a great function to use when you want clouds to pop with intensity! Note: in photo and camera settings you can choose to keep both the HDR and original photo, so your camera will always take two shots. While you are in photo and camera settings make sure you have switched on to "summarize photos" this will give you a better record of where you took the photo and when (it's like this function was made for Cabin Crew! )

3. Experiment

Play with the focus by tapping the person or building or object you want to feature. Use perspective and shadows. Definitely shoot without filters, they will serve a purpose later.

Focus - make sure you have a full body shot (with shoes) or a head shot, with the head being in the center of the screen. Crack a joke, or keep the conversation flowing when you snap so that all your photos aren't candid. This also helps in larger Crew shots, as it is nearly impossible to catch everyone with a cheesy grin at the same time.

Where there is a person in front of a landmark, tell your "model" to have their body facing you (or half facing you) and to look to the right, not twisting their head to look directly at the object, but to just look in the direction (it may feel funny for them) but this will give a nice side profile of the person and it actually will look like the "model" is looking at the object in focus. It's all in the eye of the photographer!

If you are doing action shots, like jumping on sand dunes, hold your finger down on the trigger and the camera will take multiple shots, and you can choose the best one later, this way you won't miss the fast shot.

4. Light

Light is ALL in life and in photography, bear that in mind ask yourself how can it play at your side. It changes everything. Even the most ordinary thing appears different with the optimum light, conversely - believe me that a nice frame can be easily ruined by a bad lighting exposure.

Extra little tip here: How do I know whether the light is good or not? Easy: the main source of light must be at YOUR back, hitting the subject directly as far as practicable. Best moment of the day for landscapes and outdoors: sunset and sunrise. Worst: central hours of the day.

You can also increase and decrease the lighting exposure by clicking on the object you want to focus on and slide your finger up to increase the light.

5. Edit

Say that you have two nights to spend in your destination. After each day take your 15+ minutes and go through the pictures, make the effort to delete the ones you don't like and you don't want to use. At this point you have a good base, 8 to 15 is a good summary. Result: too many pictures = no pictures. This will give you, on one hand, more free space in your phone and on the other, less work when you will be home editing. Our favorite Apps for editing are Avery, Snapseed, Facetune and of course Instagram. Instagram is a great tool to boost colour in post editing, key tip- always add a red tone even if it is 5% to make skin glow.

6. Publish

Firstly; Publish it all! Publishing your travels on Facebook these days is as good as keeping a journal, because you know that at the end of each month if a family member asks where you have been, there is a long hard pause, and maybe you can list 3 of the 8 places you have been to and everything you saw, ate, drank, laughed at and experienced.

Secondly; I know it's hard, but it's a good exercise for the sake of the quality (and facebook likes) to try and wait to publish the pictures until you get home. You have your top picks so post them in one hit to gain more views, also look at the time of posting, between 4pm and 6pm is perfect to catch peoples attention on their transit home from work. Choose and retouch if it's the case but never allow yourself more than 20 if you want them to be respected. You still want to publish more?

Bonus Hack: Divide them by theme, subject, day or style and post them in different times. It will help the others enjoy. Also, the idea is that those are the ones that mean the most for you and for your trip so you can think about printing them (or a further selection of them) and you won't regret.

You will be willing to repeat the experience and with a bit of practice, you will easily master the subject.

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