This mobile photography masterclass might win you $10,000

This mobile photography masterclass might win you $10,000
(Image credit: Mike Kus / Huawei)

Professional photographer Mike Kus has shared his smartphone shooting secrets in a mobile photography masterclass, created in conjunction with the Huawei Next Image 2020 competition. 

The prize pool features $10,000 top prize and a number of Huawei P40 Pro (opens in new tab) handsets, one of the best camera phones (opens in new tab) out there – which is why Kus used it to shoot his photos. While the Next Image 2020 competition is only open to users taking shots with a Huawei, these tips can be used to take great images on almost any phone.

You can view the masterclass below, and following is a breakdown of the categories and some of Mike's advice for snagging the best shots. 

Capturing portraits is the art of exploring the idea of someone's identity, whether it's a simple facial expression, or catching your subject off-guard or within the context of scene. Anything goes – the more creative, the better! Think about light – portraits in harsh sunlight or shadow can be difficult, but the soft evening light can bring out character. If your camera has Portrait mode, the bokeh effect will draw attention to the subject by creating separation from the background.

Great landscapes look at the world from your own point of view and perspective. Consider the composition and balance in your shot; try shooting from low vantage point, and even add elements like grass into the foreground to give depth to your image. Try capturing lines in the frame – shooting down paths can draw a viewer in, while fences lead them into the distance. If your camera has multiple lenses or zoom functions, try shooting with wide angles and optical zooms to get different takes on your landscape. 

Videos are all about moving images that transport a viewer into the frame by creating atmosphere, emotion and feeling. It's not just about capturing color, light and texture; your soundtrack and the editing create a pace that determine many things about your video, whether it's narrative or abstract. You can also manipulate time, by using your phone's time-lapse function to speed up the world or slow-mo to slow it down. 

By focusing on creating a panel of images, rather than a single shot, you are free to be creative and more abstract – capturing the shots you wouldn't normally hunt down, but that together build a picture of an experience. Try photographing details that support the main narrative of shoot, things that don't take center stage in and of themselves but help take the viewer on a journey. Close-up macro images can capture the finer overlooked details, while shooting in monochrome creates an editorial feel.

(Image credit: Mike Kus / Huawei)

Many cameras have dedicated night modes, including the iPhone 11 Pro (opens in new tab) and Google Pixel 4 XL (opens in new tab). The Huawei P40 Pro enables you to take manual control of the shutter speed and exposure, enabling you to drag the shutter for light trails, or leave it in automatic mode for haunting images of empty streets. Either way, you'll want to keep your phone as steady as possible – there are plenty of mini tripods (opens in new tab) as well as dedicated iPhone tripods (opens in new tab)

Capturing the spirit of your own life inherently means capturing a unique image, with unique meaning. Think about what was special about your day, and what image makes a lasting impression – a picture of a lovingly made meal, a cityscape of the place you're in, or a shot of the sun going down. Sharing your own life experiences means that anything goes!

For more information on the Huawei Next Image 2020 competition, and to enter, visit the Huawei microsite (opens in new tab). Alternatively, you can post your pictures to Instagram detailing the category along with the tags #huaweinextimage and #capturedonhuawei. The competition closes on 31 July, so get shooting!

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.