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Smartphone Photography Tips for the Summer Festival Season

Festival season is now firmly on the horizon and with many festival-goers expected to shoot the majority of their memories with smartphones, photographers Erik Voake and Arne Herkelmann, Huawei European Head of Handset Portfolio and Planning, have shared their top mobile shooting tips and tricks for festival photography this summer

Erik Voake: PRACTICE! Practice, practice: Get to know your smartphone and all the features it offers. It’s likely you’ll find tools that help you create a gorgeous image you weren’t originally planning to capture, especially with all the filters. The more you practice, the faster the camera will become an extension of yourself and the more likely you will be to capture the shots you’re after.

EV: Keep the lens clean: It sounds obvious, but you’ll usually be carrying your smartphone in your pocket or in a bag and the lens can get dirty, easily. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people ask me why their photos are blurry, only to look at their phone and see a giant fingerprint on the lens. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.

Arne Herkelmann: “The Huawei P20 Pro offers excellent optics in a compact glass and metal body, as well as featuring a silicone edge which will protect the phone and camera in a festival environment. Plus, the P20 Pro is waterproof [resistant up to 1m], so you can rinse the camera for easier cleaning of the lenses.”

EV: Don’t stand still: When you arrive at the stage, don’t stand in just one place. Try to move around to capture a variety of angles. Shoot some wide angles showing the stage, shoot some close up, go to the side of the stage [both sides if you can]. As you move through the crowd you will almost always notice something you didn’t see, or expect to see.

AH: “The Huawei P20 Pro highlights the world’s first Leica triple camera on a smartphone which gives 5x Hybrid Zoom, so you can see further than ever before. This means that you don’t necessarily need to be right at the front of the crowd to get great shots.”

EV: Flip it to get it: Because we are used to holding our smartphones vertically, it’s easy to forget that you can shoot landscape, depending on what frames the image best. You can hold your phone ‘upside down’, bringing the lens lower if you want to play with perspective. The fact your smartphone is small allows for great opportunities to discover new angles and perspectives.

EV: No mic nose: What’s mic nose? Musicians will ordinarily sing right into the microphone, resulting in a portion of their face being obscured by it, thus making their nose disappear. It’s tempting to run right to the front and centre of a crowd to try and get the best shot of a lead singer. But what good is a photo of a person where half their face is covered? My advice… stand to the side a bit so you can get a better profile, and when the artist steps back from the mic, wait for them to look around and snap a beautifully clear shot of their face with no equipment obstructing it.

AH: “The Huawei P20 Pro uses 4D Predictive Focus to track a moving object across 5 zones of the frame to help to predict the perfect moment, so whether the musician is dancing around the stage or even steps back from the mic, your smartphone should have it covered.”

EV: Lights, camera… still lights: At a festival, you’re at the mercy of whatever type of lighting there may be. Prince was known for playing entire sets in the dark, [for example]. There are artists who prefer moody red, pink and purple lighting for their sets, too. If you’re struggling with overexposure or an image being too dark, don’t fret; take the shots anyway and convert them to black and white, or even better, shoot in black and white in the first place.

AH: “Huawei’s P20 Pro has a Night Mode, which allows you to take great photos in low light and at night at concerts without needing a tripod. There’s also a dedicated black and white lens on the triple camera, helping you to capture perfect, stylised shots.”

EV: Composition and framing: When it comes to composition there are all sorts of rules, but rules were made to be broken and a lot of the greatest artists were and are rule breakers. The main thing is to centre your subject and avoid having too much negative space in an image. Don’t worry about what you should be doing and instead try new things, push your creativity. You can always delete an image, but you’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t take the shot.

EV: The Golden Hour: Nothing beats gorgeous sunlight. When the sun begins to set it creates a unique ‘golden’ light. Wherever you are, remember that as the sun goes down, your chances of getting that beautiful portrait or landscape shot only get better. Take advantage of the natural light and play around with the position of the sun in your photos – you can backlight people for a silhouette effect or even use an object to partially hide the sun, capture flare and add an artistic touch to anything you’re shooting.

EV: The main event: One of the biggest challenges with live music photography is capturing an image that parallels what you experienced, especially as artists are getting more and more creative with the show production and experience of their performance. It’s more than ‘just’ the music, there are costumes, lighting and special effects too. But there are one or two critical things you can do to capture ‘the moment’. Put your phone into burst mode to take several images very quickly so that you don’t miss a thing. You can choose the best one afterwards.

AH: “Zero shutter lag, outstandingly quick burst capability and incredible action detection helps capture blink-and-miss-it shots in pin sharp detail, meaning the Huawei P20 Pro won’t let you miss a moment of the festival.”

EV: When the sun goes down: Some of the most spectacular moments at a festival happen after the sun has set, but it can be a struggle to capture great shots at night. Most devices have a lowlight mode to help you get that shot.

EV: It’s an experience: Festivals are about so much more than music nowadays, so be sure to capture other elements to better reflect the whole experience. Amazing food, crazy outfits, fairground rides, games and more will give great opportunities to capture some intriguing images that will tell the story of your festival experience far beyond just a single performance photo could. Keep your eyes open.

You can watch our videos for the P20 Pro from Huawei on the PhotoBite YouTube Channel

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