Thomas Lim on how to shoot artistic urban landscapes
Taking great shots of your neighbourhood isn’t something that needs a lot of equipment or training – all you need is time and a smartphone. For many professional and amateur photographers, the significantly improved technology in smartphone cameras means shooting and sharing work on mobile devices is now a primary practice. Since almost everyone on the street carries a smartphone, it’s also easier to blend in when taking photos of the city street using your mobile.
Capture stunning urban landscape photos around you by using these photography tips
Use light to take spectacular photos
Light is the biggest factor that will make or break a good photo. Be sensitive to light, as a good source of light can turn an ordinary scene into something spectacular, especially with the small sensor in mobile cameras.
Mentally prepare your photo before you shoot
The best way for photography beginners to build up confidence photographing people in public is to look for a background with interesting light or geometric shape and wait patiently for a subject to enter.
Shooting photos of people on the street
With my smartphone, I’m able to get up close to people and photograph them without being too obvious. Switch your smartphone to silent mode, or download a camera app like ProCamera that allows you to take a photo by pressing the volume control of the earpiece connected to the phone. Make full use of these technologies to get close to your subject and to capture them in their natural state.
Capture the defining moment
Everyone interprets the defining moment in his or her way, but rather than photographing a random guy drinking coffee in a café or a street busker entertaining the crowd, I try not to go for an easy shot. I love to create that energy in an image; a skateboarder in mid-air, a kid chasing after pigeons or a basketball player in action.
Find a unique street shot
Don’t restrict yourself when it comes to street photography. It doesn’t have to be on the city street – try heading to the park, the beach or a nearby small town. It also doesn’t have to involve people – look out for funny signs, an abandoned shopping cart, your neighbour’s cat or even a self-portrait inspired by Vivian Maier. There is no limit to what you can capture with your smartphone.
Be inspired by other photographers
Besides the work from all the big names in the world of street photography, I get my daily dose of inspiration from Instagram. @mobilephotonetwork and @outofthephone curate quality imagery from mobile street photographers around the world.
Photo editing on mobile devices
I usually keep image processing to the minimal in my work, so some basic adjustments and cropping are all I need. Depending on the kind of “look” I
want to create, I usually work with two apps, Adobe Lightroom Mobile and VSCO. Lightroom Mobile not only lets me make that adjustment quickly, but it also backs up my images to my desktop using Creative Cloud. VSCO, a popular filter app, gives me the choice of a wide variety of filters.
My favourite shot
One image I’m particularly happy with has to be this photo taken outside a shopping mall in Central Queensland, a place I visited many times. On one
occasion, the parking lot in front of the orange wall was empty. Shoppers left shopping carts there and I was hoping for a subject to complete the photo. After waiting an hour for a subject to come through, I managed to take this photo with my iPhone 5s.
There is no “proper” camera, only a working one. Whatever camera you use, at the end of the day, you still need to master it. Street photography is never about image resolution; it’s about the content within the frame. Stick with your smartphone camera for a month, and you will be surprised by the result.
Thomas Lim is a professional photographer, educator and influencer based in Melbourne. He photographs predominantly on the streets of Melbourne with his iPhone 6S and Sony A7S. You can see more of his work on www.thomas-lim.com
or follow him here