500px ISO is home to the best photo stories on the web. We feature the unique, crazy, and beautiful stories behind the photos you see on 500px. You'll meet inspirational photographers, and discover how they capture the images that blow your mind every day.
Each week, members of the 500px team curate eye-catching photography from our talented and diverse community in Editors’ Choice. In this week’s selections, you’ll find metallic hues, moody models, and plays on reflection. Check out this week’s roundup of some of the most intriguing photography on 500px, handpicked by our Editors.
Check out which photos are catching our Editors’ eyes today in Editors’ Choice!
Not on 500px yet? Sign up here to explore more impactful photography.
Dutch photographer Dillen van der Molen has been visually-impaired since he was 3 years old—but, as he shares in this exclusive interview, he feels that “limitation” has only strengthened his creativity and drive as a photographer. Read on to learn how he conceptualizes, shoots, and post-processes his images, true motivation, and what he hopes people learn from his work.
Q: You lost part of your sight as a result of malnutrition when you were young. How old were you when you started to lose your sight?
A: I was 3 years old when Bejan, the mother of my best friend, Pim, mentioned to my parents that I could have a problem with my eyesight, because she could see that I would put my face really close to the surface of the sidewalk when playing with chalk, and when we were watching TV, I always had my face really close to the screen. At her advice, we had some medical tests done on my eyes, and the doctors told us that I had cataract eye problems in both of my eyes. My vision was 10% in my left eye, and 15% in my right. That’s a similar experience to someone with normal vision looking into deep mist.
In the same breath, the doctors also told us that they were unable to operate or explore any other potential treatments at that time, as that could only be done once I was 12 or older, when my eyes would be more developed.
There were some things I did in the meantime to make it a bit easier on my eyes, and to enhance my quality of life: like wearing sunglasses to block incoming light, using a portable desk that I could bring up higher, which was easier than trying to read hunched over, with a magnifying glass. I would wear sunglasses during gym class or in the classroom, because even that light was often too much to bear, and hurt my eyes without sunglasses.
Cataract eye problems are a rare thing at that age. The doctors told us that cataract eye problems don’t typically start until an average person’s 50s or 60s.
Q: Your sight has improved since then—what was that process like?
A: Once I turned 12, I had an operation on my left eye first, then on my right eye a year later. My original eye lenses were replaced with implants in both of my eyes, and I received cataract laser treatment, with a year between each treatment and operation.
Each year and each operation and treatment opened a whole new world of colors for me. Those were incredibly exciting new moments for me to witness. Colors looked brighter than I’d ever seen them before, and I could bear increasingly more light with much less pain.
Eventually, after all of the treatments and operations, my total vision improved to 45% from 10% in my left eye, and 40% in my right eye from 15%. This is the best it will ever be, as far as we know. Some lens implants can give you up to 90% or even 100% vision, but sadly, there is permanent damage to the backs of my eyes and brain, which is inoperable.
Nowadays, they can operate and treat cataract eye problems in children at a much earlier age.
While I couldn’t have my eyes operated and treated until I turned 12, I’m very thankful for the improved vision I have now, and how much more light I can bear.
Today, my vision can be compared more to normal vision with a bit of a sandy texture to it—sometimes, I even add a bit of grain to my photos to make them more visually-similar to what I see.
Q: Were any of your other family members affected by the lack of nutrition you experienced in the past? How is your family now?
A: Both of my biological parents passed away due to famine not long after I was born: my mother went first, then my father took me to a children’s home, and he too passed on. I was adopted from Ethiopia when I was 2 years old by a great, loving family named van der Molen. I don’t have or had any connection with my biological family.
Q: Your friend Arnold described your partial blindness as a “necessary restriction.” How has your lack of full sight affected your creativity?
A: Because I think in possibilities, not impossibilities. This carries me through, creatively, through the process of capturing and post-processing my work. I do have my bad days with physical pain and mental exhaustion. But then, I also don’t start out with working through a difficult photo edit on days like that. Sometimes I choose not to work at all, and lay on the sofa, sleep a bit, and watch TV, until I feel recharged.
Q: Why choose photography?
A: Before photography, I worked as a health care worker in social services. One of the things I was most often praised for in my work as a social / health care worker was my observation skills. So later on, I thought photography or film would be a good career for me to explore. I didn’t necessarily have the eyesight for it, but I didn’t let that stop me.
Q: You started shooting photos in 2011. Was there a specific point in time when you really felt your passion for photography came alive?
A: From around 2011 to 2014, I was looking for more balance and relaxation in my life, because the physical pain in my body was really building up—along with being visually impaired, I experience chronic physical illness.
I wanted a creative outlet for some of the energy I was unable to use. My friend, Arnold en Anneke, was also living in Doorn at the time with passionate musicians who played the piano and sang, and Arnold played the guitar. I would often go to listen to their music sessions in the piano room, and that would help me temporarily forget about my pain, and help to relax me. (Thank you, Arnold.)
Before I got into photography, I was also a breakdancer on a semi-professional level. I eventually had to stop because of health issues, so I started to film the underground breakdance scene and competitions here in Holland under the name Tha5elements. Eventually, I was uploading around 3,000 to 4,000 raw dance videos to that channel.
While I was creating videos, I also started doing photography as well. I began to enjoy that more, and I ended up finding it more relaxing than filming. So I continued with photography, and in 2011, I bought my first DSLR camera: a Canon 700D.
But I really surprised myself during the 2013 MTV EMA Awards. My friend Arnold and I were guests at the event, but unfortunately I didn’t have my DSLR with me that night. However, I was able to capture some photos with a small mobile phone camera. I was surprised not by the quality, but by the shots that I took with such a small camera in such a big arena. From that moment on, I started to shoot more and more with my Canon 700D kit and lens, and in 2014, I made my 500px account.
In 2016, I became good friends with the staff at a local photo store here in Groningen City called FotoSipkes.nl. They’ve helped me improve my skills as a photographer immeasurably, and once in a while, they let me test one of their cameras. Of course, it’s fun, but it also helps me build my knowledge of different cameras and lenses.
Q: You mentioned you shoot on autofocus to ensure your images are crisp and “look with your heart.” Do you actually look through the viewfinder still when you’re shooting, or is it mainly by sense?
A: I barely use the viewfinder when I’m capturing photos. I’ll often use the viewfinder to better see the photo after I’ve taken it, because you can zoom in on your shot. I prefer doing this via the viewfinder instead of the display. But the best way for me is to view it back on my iMac 27” desktop.
Q: Has your partial blindness been an advantage to you at any point in photography?
A: Because of my bad eyesight, I often take my time when composing my shots. That makes my work well thought-out, and often a bit different, most of the time. That’s also more relaxing and has a better effect on me than trying to shoot instantaneously or quickly. And it’s gotten me an interview on the 500px Blog—of which I’m proud and honored.
Q: You also said that perfecting photos in Lightroom takes an enormous amount of energy. How long does it typically take you to edit / perfect your work in Lightroom?
A: It depends: sometimes it’s 30 minutes, sometimes it’s 3 hours. This also has to do with how much energy I have to stay focused on post-processing, as well as how much editing needs to be done. For me, portrait edits typically take up the most amount of time.
Q: When you’re struggling, whether it’s with a long Lightroom session or any other challenge, what keeps you going? How do you stay motivated?
A: Playing music from breakbeats: from pop to classical, or even country music, nowadays. That boosts my motivation. I also sometimes like to edit in total silence. But honestly, I don’t really need much motivation to keep me going—I really love what I do. And when I can walk, I’ll do my work, since I always carry my camera with me. I always have music playing while I’m walking and photographing—this helps keep me from being distracted by anything other than whatever I’m trying to focus on at that moment.
Q: What would you like to tell people who have lost part of all of their sight?
A: Find a way that works for you to keep doing what you love to do. If it can be done in faraway countries, then it can generally be done in towns or cities you live in, like mine. Whether you spend the whole day photographing or just a few hours, it doesn’t matter, as long as it makes you happy. Find what works for you, because it’s different for everyone. Don’t let anything stop you, and think in “can”s instead of “can’t”s.
Q: What’s your favourite photo or photos you’ve shot?
A: I think this is my favourite photo: Out with the Lady (02-18-2018)
Q: What do you hope people take away from your photos?
A: Much joy, happiness, and relaxing colors.
Thank you very much to the 500px team for reaching out, for your help, and for letting me tell my story. It’s an honor and I’m very thankful.
Keep up with key trends in Licensing as 500px’s Art Director & Creative Research Lead, Karen Biilmann, analyzes common threads and current themes throughout our Contributors’ photography submissions. From fluid gender representation to experiential travel, here’s what’s trending in this sample of some of the most popular genres in the 500px collection.
Shot on: Nikon D610 With:
24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 Using:
52mm | ƒ/4 | 1/500s | ISO 100
What we love
The “baby boomer” generation makes up a vast group (think: 72 million individuals alone in the United States) of our global population. As this group continues to age, there is an enormous need to cater to this demographic.
With that said, commercial content that aims to target this group encourages us to consider what it means to age, and the underrepresentation of our aging generations in current media. There is an undeniable emphasis on beauty and youth in visual trends, creating an unrealistic perception and pressure to “age gracefully,” alongside the trials and tribulations that can be associated with growing old.
Shining a light on authentic age encourages this population to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, showcasing social engagement in their experience. Our favorite works from this sample illustrate that growing old does not necessarily isolate an individual, but provides the chance to embrace new opportunities. These concepts can translate to a variety of commercial themes that range from retirement savings, health and wellness, and long-term planning, making this content in high demand for buyers.
Similarly, we find stale definitions of what it means to identify as one gender or another, and the limitations that these constructs place on a progressive society within commercial media.
Representation in commercial photography is powerful, and can lend an inspiring voice to a variety of people. It provides a space for inclusion and acceptance. This type of content should not be limited to any one marginalized group, but should be applied to a broad spectrum of individual expressions and rarely-represented unique experiences.
By contributing this type of content to the commercial space, we can create an influx of inclusive representation and the increased opportunity for minority groups to be reflected in popular media campaigns. With increased availability, we create pathways for change, and can better influence an inclusive and progressive future.
With experience being a key theme within commercial content, it is unsurprising to see “experiential travel” at the forefront of commercial trends. Experiential travel provides a more interactive form of tourism, creating an immersive look at people engaging with authentic culture, environments, history, and food.
Photographers provide viewers with a close look at local life, encouraging a deeper understanding of the destination. It provides a visceral connection to the content, which insists on finding unique moments and hidden treasures. These experiences can only be found by fully immersing yourself in the culture and history of the destination. It encourages a certain level of self-discovery, as you let go of traditional notions of travel and disconnect, forcing yourself to rely on local recommendations for food or sightseeing.
Licensing Contributor Andrew Curry shoots velvet-toned street photography, portraiture, and cityscapes that have been making waves on 500px since he joined in 2016. He currently splits his time between Tokyo and San Francisco. Browse his Licensing collection here.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself as a photographer—how did you get started?
A: I got my start in photography around the time I was working full-time in video post-production for the film and TV industry in Los Angeles, in 2011, and am currently based out of Tokyo, Japan and San Francisco, California.
The long hours and often-commercial nature of the job left me uninspired creatively and longing for more. Then I was asked to decide if I wanted to accept a promotion that, along with more pay, would mean even longer hours at the office, or whether I wanted to leave. Deep down, I knew that no amount of money would ever make me happy in that job, so I decided on the latter.
This space in between jobs was when photography really took hold of me. I found myself with three months off and used that time to explore LA on foot. At the time, I was living in Venice Beach. With no particular agenda for the day, I would set out to roam the streets, camera in hand, photographing whatever caught my eye.
I didn’t know it when I first started out on this journey, but something inside me clicked; it was the act of walking around, actively scanning my environment for things to photograph, that really fulfilled the creative void I had been feeling. Shooting photos became a way to connect my creativity to my newfound freedom.
Q: How did you get started on 500px?
A: I got on 500px a few years ago, when I was looking for a new platform on which to post my photos. I was growing a bit tired of some of the bigger photo-hosting sites, so I was pleasantly surprised when I happened upon 500px and found not only pleasing UI, but also a strong and supportive community of fellow photographers. Within the first few months of posting to 500px, one of my photos was chosen for Editors’ Choice.
Q: How did you get into street photography?
A: Street photography became a passion of mine after moving to Japan in 2014. Up until that point, I was mostly shooting highly-composed, symmetrical, and static landscape, still-life, and some city scenes—primarily devoid of people. While I still love this type of photography, the often-dense and chaotic nature of Tokyo’s streets made it nearly impossible for me to compose the shots I was used to capturing back in California.
I found myself feeling a bit out of place at first. It wasn’t until I let go of that need to control the framing that I was able to be happy with my shots. There was definitely a learning curve for me as I adapted to my new environment, but once I learned how to use that density and the organic flow of the streets to my advantage, I fell in love.
Q: What do you love most about shooting street?
A: I love that every time you walk out the door, there is something new to capture—even on the same streets you’ve walked 100 times before, the scene is in constant flux: it’s this dynamic nature that I love. I love to observe people navigating their environment and arranging themselves organically. I like to be the detached observer, capturing this flow on camera. The emotions of the streets, the joy, the loneliness, the boredom—they all tell a story of the people who frequent them, and give us a chance to reflect upon our own nature.
Q: What was it like shooting in Hong Kong?
A: Hong Kong has long been an inspiration of mine. When I was a senior in high school in the late ’90s, Quentin Tarantino had released Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express though his film label. This was my first introduction to not only the cinema of Hong Kong, but also the city itself, and I was immediately drawn in. Hong Kong looked so different than anything I had known in the west, especially when contrasted with the sleepy beach town I grew up in Florida.
The way Christopher Doyle, W.K.W’s chief cinematographer, shot and expressed Hong Kong, and the romantic way in which W.K.W. told a story, left me longing to travel there. It only took me 15 years to do so, but when I finally arrived in Hong Kong, It was a dream realized. One of the first days I was there, my friend Terence and I walked 30 kilometers traversing the entire city, photographing everything that interested us along the way.
Q: Was it more difficult shooting street photos in such a busy city?
A: I was definitely glad to have lived in Japan prior to traveling there for the first time. To echo my earlier observation about having to learn how to shoot in dense cities: it freed me to shoot Hong Kong how I always envisioned it in my head. To be quite honest, I was also heavily influenced by these film auteurs.
Q: What was your favorite street photo you took in Hong Kong?
A: I really like the photo I took of the people ascending and descending an escalator at Victoria Peak. To me, this photo sums up not only the energy of Hong Kong but also the changing and varied landscapes throughout the city.
Q: What advice do you have for photographers shooting on the street in a busy city?
A: In terms of photographing people on the streets—sometimes you will be out of your comfort zone, especially in a foreign county, but just remember that that may be the one and only time you will be visiting, so take the shot, even if it scares you to do so. Of course, always use your best judgment and never photograph people if they tell you not to, or approach them in an aggressive or confrontational manner. However, most of the time, if you approach people with a smile, they will not object.
Other than that, take your time to find your flow. Often when I am out shooting in a busy environment, it takes me a good 30 minutes or so to “warm up.” So be patient, and don’t rush the shots, because chances are you will find yourself shooting better shots after you have gotten into the “flow” mind state.
Q: What’s the best street photography advice you’ve ever gotten?
A: It’s not really advice, per se, but the following quote by Saul Leiter has always resonated with me: “A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person.”
To me, I take this as a subtle reminder that there is so much beauty to be found in the seemingly-mundane minutiae of everyday life, which often goes overlooked and that exists all around us, day in and day out. It’s a beauty that is accessible to all.
Q: What do you hope people take away from your photos on 500px?
A: My biggest wish is that people get to either see their city or a city to which they’ve never traveled in a new light, or through a different perspective. I hope that inspires in the viewer a renewed interest in a previously-familiar environment, or inspires them to travel to a new place and unfamiliar place.
Each week, members of the 500px team curate eye-catching photography from our talented and diverse community in Editors’ Choice. In this week’s selections, you’ll find an array of rich, saturated color, repetition and duplication in unique formats, and more visual themes. Check out this week’s roundup of some of the most intriguing photography on 500px, handpicked by our Editors.
Check out which photos are catching our Editors’ eyes today in Editors’ Choice!
Not on 500px yet? Sign up here to explore more impactful photography.
Licensing Contributor Jason Liu is a Brooklyn-based photographer that shoots raw textures and emotion in nature and portraiture, taking advantage of natural light to help accentuate the visual drama within his images. Browse his Licensing collection here.
Q: Tell us about yourself—how did you get started as a photographer?
A: I’m a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. My curiosity has always kept me on the move, and wanting to learn as much as I can. I hope to share as much of the world as I can with my audience through my work.
Q: How do you shoot your images? Since they are drone shots, can you tell us what you love about drone photography?
A: I think a lot of people share the same fascination with flying and seeing the world from a bird’s-eye view. It gives the world such a fresh perspective—I often wonder what a lot of places look like from above. It also gives us a different vantage point on hard-to-reach places: some places are even inaccessible by foot.
One of my favorite things about drone photography is being able to get shots that aren’t possible with a handheld camera. A good example of this would be some of the shots I’ve gotten going down tight corridors in my video.
Q: What is your favourite gear to use?
A: I currently use the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone for all my drone footage. I started with the first DJI Mavic Pro because of its size, and how easy it is to carry around. I would’ve preferred the Phantom 4 Pro for its dynamic range, but that drone was too large for the traveling I like to do, and I wouldn’t have been able to bring along the rest of my gear.
Q: When you’re setting up your shot, what are your go-to steps?
Before I go anywhere, I always check the weather. I’ve been to places where it can look completely different in 24 hours. Depending on the kind of mood you’re looking for, you need to know when to be there. A lot of my shots are usually taken around sunrise and sunset.
I love sunrise the most—everything starts to warm up after a cold night, and it brings in amazing fog that complements the scenery. Even if the sun doesn’t come out in the morning, there can be great morning fog.
The best thing you can do for yourself is scout the area you’re shooting first. Make sure you give yourself enough time to look around before you get started. Be aware of your surroundings to ensure you fly your drone safely, and make sure you have a good space from which to take off.
I love shooting videos with my drone, so the first thing I look for is a good “flow” that I can use for movement. A good example would be flying in the same direction as nearby traffic. It’s very appealing to the eyes and makes you feel like you’re moving with them. But don’t do that with fog!
It looks a lot better to fly against the fog, while still maintaining your composition with the subject. Another good example is flying towards leading lines—know which path you’re going to take, and compose your shot accordingly.
Q: What is your favorite part of drone photography?
A: I’m always looking for new perspectives that not many people have done: like places that you couldn’t squeeze through previously, because it’d either cost way too much or because the technology wasn’t there yet. And now that the technology and methods are more accessible to photographers, we can bring our ideas into existence more easily. Through my drone photography, I want to push the boundaries of what’s possible and show how beautiful and diverse our world is.
We’ve teamed up with stackt for the ultimate two-part photo Quest to give 5 photographers around the world an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help transform the Toronto skyline as part of stackt’s curated discovery!
The winners of part one, the ‘Make it Pop (up)’ Quest, will have their photos displayed in a 5-day live gallery show competition at stackt in the heart of vibrant downtown Toronto—where they will be seen and voted on by locals and tourists. Visitors to stackt will vote for their favorite photos at the live gallery show competition to decide which 5 photographers will win part two. The top 5 winning photos will be printed 10’ x 10’ and displayed for the world (okay, millions of locals and tourists) to see throughout the 100,000 sqft. market from June–September.
Without further ado, meet the winners of part one—don’t miss their photos at our upcoming gallery show at stackt!
Want a say in which photos are magnified to the size of a billboard and displayed at stackt? Stay tuned to learn more about how to get involved—follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Which photo is your favorite? Let us know what you think in the comments!
At 500px, we firmly believe that your tools are just that—tools. Whether you shoot with a Canon 5DS R or an old iPhone 5s, a great photographer can make beautiful photos using any device capable of capturing images.
Now, let’s get practical. Want to take better photos with your smartphone? Great! We asked four talented 500px photographers to share their tips for making the most of your phone’s camera.
So if you want to start capturing smartphone photos like the ones above, get out a pen and paper (or, more likely, a text file on your laptop), and prepare to take notes:
Darja Bilyk’s mobile photography tips
1. Be ready!
I always keep my phone in camera mode so that when I unlock it, it’s ready for taking pictures. A good moment is so easy to lose. There can be no excuses such as, “Oh, my phone is somewhere in my bag,” because we are talking about mobile photography. Your phone should be in your hand.
It may be an obvious thing to say, but nevertheless, you should remember to charge your phone and to keep your lens clean. I carry a charger with me most of the time to use, for example, if I’m having coffee in some nice cafe, but the charger won’t save me in the forest.
I also often switch my phone to airplane mode. Not only does it help save the phone’s battery, but it also eliminates distractions and forces you to focus on photography.
2. Don’t think twice, take pictures whenever you want and of whatever you wish!
If you doubt whether to take a picture or not—take it! Snap it! Some moments will not be repeated. If you don’t like your picture, you can always delete it, but if you lose the moment, you wouldn’t be able to turn back time and catch it. Don’t overthink and hesitate, because there’s nothing to lose.
3. Light is the answer!
Let’s not forget that photography is all about using light. Even the most boring composition will be saved by the good light, no matter if it’s day or evening.
4. Learn the technical quirks of your phone camera
Find out the strong and weak sides of your phone. I know that my iPhone isn’t good at night photography. The pictures are noisy and blurred. That’s why I try to use it only in the daytime.
Don’t be lazy, read the manual and make sure you’re using your phone in the most efficient circumstances. We may be self-confident and think that we know it all, but sometimes little tips in the manual can help us improve our photos in a big way. Learn how you can control the exposure or focus on the objects better, for example.
5. Don’t use zoom!
I think this is the first step towards taking a bad smartphone picture. If you want to zoom in on something, use your legs and move! Don’t forget that this is just a phone, and its capabilities are generally not the same as a DSLR lens.
6. Select and retouch!
Be selective! Try to choose only the best pictures and then edit those.
There are many apps that will help you to do this, and while we can’t understate their help in creating beautiful images, don’t try too hard. You should remember that sometimes a picture is much better without filters.
It’s also worth mentioning that there is no “magic” application. Sometimes a picture can not be saved and instead of “torturing” it, you’d be better off taking another photo. Try to use fewer filters and more individual adjustments that you can apply—each of of your photographs is different, so take an individual approach to editing them, too.
7. Choose unique angles
Try shooting from the dog’s view—this will make you look at the objects from a new perspective.
Also learn to use the grid, and then, just as importantly, learn to do without it.
8. Make your pictures come alive!
Print your pictures, send them as postcards, give them to your friends, hang them on your walls. Holding your pictures in your hands is such a lovely feeling, and it can’t be compared with looking at your pictures on a smartphone screen.
9. Don’t try to stick to one style!
I see a lot of people nowadays trying to shoot in one style, or even the same exact colors—don’t do this! Remember that versatility is great and showcases your creativity.
Who said that you can only be interested in landscape photography? If you feel like taking a portrait of someone, then do so. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Be eager and don’t stop shooting. Your own unique style will develop!
10. And last, but not the least…
– A warm breakfast tastes better than it looks… put your phone away and eat the damn thing.
– Don’t cross the road while editing pictures.
– Love what you do and don’t let the critics get you down too much.
– Don’t sit at home. Explore!
Darja Bilyk, 26 years old, was born and raised in Moscow. She works as an English teacher at school (teaching kids from 8 to 18 years of age) and dedicates her free time to photography and traveling. She believes that a good photographer should be able to capture good photos of anything—landscape, portrait, or just some family album pictures—regardless of what equipment one possesses. The things that she looks for most in images are atmosphere and mood.
Although the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization built-in, I find I get a better, sharper image by holding the phone with both hands, much like I would hold a traditional camera.
The key for me here is to then not use the “software” shutter button, but instead to use the physical volume buttons that act as your shutter, eliminating camera shake and giving you sharper images. I am often surprised by the number of people who are unaware of this feature. The added bonus is that if you use your headphones that came with the phone, you can also use the buttons on that as a cable release and not have to touch the camera at all.
One more thing: hold down the shutter button and you get 10 fps burst mode so you don’t miss the action.
2. Keep your lens clean
A simple but important point: As we tend to keep our phones in our pockets or bags, give your lens a quick wipe before you shoot. It is a lint and dust magnet!
3. Download a better camera app
It’s true that the most built-in camera apps have improved over time, and they’re great for your average user, but us photographers who require a little more control over the settings should turn to others.
There are numerous third-party apps that you can download to give you all the control you would want. I personally use Camera+.
Editor’s Note: As of this last update, you can also use the 500px iOS app to take and edit your pictures!
The reality is that you’ll need to process your images to get the best possible final photos.
Lightroom is my first choice if I want to do this on my computer, as it enables me to tweak the image to match my creative vision. Fortunately, there are also some great apps available, too if you wanted to do everything on the one device.
I use the free app from Google called Snapseed, although the latest version of iOS has much better built-in options than previous versions.
5. Never, ever use the digital zoom
If you want the best-possible image from your phone, forget about using digital zoom. The solution is simple: just zoom with your feet. The added effect of doing this is that it really improves your compositional skills.
Tony Antoniou is a photographer and digital artist based in Surrey, UK. Together with his business partner, he runs f11 Workshops, a photography workshop and training company. Not only does he take some beautiful smartphone photos, many of the assets in his composite images are shot with an iPhone, too.
What’s your theme? Try to select just one theme for each shoot, and let it guide you. Stop for one second and think about whether you want to capture the picture in front of you. Need to zoom? Move yourself!
Mother nature paints with light. When the sun is shining, shadows help create lots of interesting scenes for you to capture. Look around and you’ll see that even mundane scenes can be captured in a special way.
I know it sounds obvious, but your mobile spends its day with whatever is in your pocket or handbag. You will never take great pictures with pocket lint or greasy thumbprints on the lens…
This is a really easy issue to fix, but if you ignore it, it will limit you before you even start. Also, try not to keep your phone in your pocket or bag with things that might scratch the lens, like coins, keys, and the like.
2. Learn to read light
Lighting makes an image great, whether you take it with a Nikon D4 or a mobile phone. If you know what makes great light you are halfway to making great photographs.
If you are out in a bar with friends, by all means, flash away—but as with point-and-shoot cameras, the light is going to be flat and prone to redeye. You get much better images if you can use the room light. (see point 2)
4. Take lots of pictures
As a professional photographer, I almost never take one picture. The final image that the client sees is almost always the result of an iterative process.
Take a shot, critique it, then take another shot. Change your angle, change your distance to the subject, change your exposure. Almost always, the end result is better than your first image.
5. Get a good phone for photography
I often joke that, with my Lumina 1020, I bought a great camera with a built-in phone. I wanted to get a camera for the times when I was out with my family or just out and about without my pro gear. I bought my phone with a specific eye on the camera. If you want to be serious about mobile photography, you need to have the tools for the job.
6. Learn to step out of auto mode
If you follow the advice in step 5, you probably have a phone that allows you to take some control of the exposure. One error that many novices make is to presume that the camera will always take the best picture.
The camera runs an algorithm that outputs a general result—it has no artistic judgement. The more control you take of the process, the more you will be able to express your artistic judgement, and the more likely you are to get outstanding pictures.
7. Shoot RAW (or at least DNG)
The ability to shoot DNG files is one of the main features that drew me to my Lumia, since then I’ve seen this ability show up on other ecosystems. DNG files will retain more highlight and shadow detail than a .jpeg, and also give you more leeway in extreme lighting situations. But the best thing about DNG files is that they give you better material to work with for my next two tips.
8. Learn to edit
Learn to edit your pictures. As a pro, all of my pictures are edited. The same applies to mobile phone pictures. And by edit, I do not mean slapping an Instagram filter on a picture. Learn about brightness, contrast, and saturation. I use Fotor, Adobe Photoshop Express, and Lumina Creative Studio on my phone.
9. Really learn to edit
This is where DNG files really shine. To get the best results, I import the DNG files into Lightroom and Photoshop to edit them there. The power of these programs and the control that comes from making fine adjustments on a really big screen are what will make the most of your image.
10. Have fun!
At its heart, mobile photography is about fun. The joy of having a camera available at those moments you want to keep is what it’s all about. The best way to improve is to have fun and to enjoy the process of doing better than what you had done before.
Leslie St. John is a Barbados-based wedding photographer who also shoots interiors, architecture, and the occasional commercial job to keep life interesting.
Each week, members of the 500px team curate eye-catching photography from our talented and diverse community in Editors’ Choice. This week’s selections touched on visual themes like swirls in architectural patterns, comfortable ease in model expressions, and more. Check out this week’s roundup of some of the most intriguing photography on 500px, handpicked by our Editors.
Check out which photos are catching our Editors’ eyes today in Editors’ Choice!
Each week, members of the 500px team curate eye-catching photography from our talented and diverse community in Editors’ Choice. Explore this week’s selections—captivating photos that showcase untamed terrains and emotional, ambiguous portraiture, topped off with faces hidden just out of reach—plus more visual themes. Check out this week’s roundup of some of the most intriguing photography on 500px, handpicked by our Editors.
Check out which photos are catching our Editors’ eyes today in Editors’ Choice!