Lesson 3

In our previous two lessons you were using the 5 Ways to Take Better Portraits with Your Phone Guide.  In addition, you began using your phone camera on Manual to shoot images while you explored the relationship between Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO.

In this lesson we continue to familiarize ourselves with the camera on our phones to shoot portraits of inanimate (not alive) objects.

Success Criteria:

By the end of these lessons, you will have used your phone in manual mode to capture portraits of common objects.

Photoshop will have been used to edit images.

Answer’s to questions and image files will be uploaded to OneDrive and Shared with your teacher.




“Don’t be afraid of being different.  Be afraid of being the same as everybody else”. 






When you see this icon with the question mark a response from you is required. These responses need to be uploaded to OneDrive and shared with me.

Don’t forget our deal with Adobe so that you can get Photoshop on your home computer for only a handful or two of dollars!


This year we have taken photos of people and pets.  We have attempted to capture their personality in photos while learning about composition and the technical aspects of photography, including posing.

But is it possible to take a portrait of an object? In this lesson we will attempt to give inanimate objects a sense of personality! To do this, we will be using our phones in manual mode.  

I captured the image below using a simple technique where I placed my microphone in front of a TV/Computer screen with an image displayed upon it.  Using compositional techniques like angle and rule of thirds, I attempted to give my microphone a ‘hero’ shot makeover! What do you think? Is it effective in giving Mic-E a personality?

Your mission this lesson is to take a portrait of an object in a way that gives it a sense of character.



First up – have a go at using the same technique I used above.  The video below walks you through how I did it.
Then, use your own creativity to photograph a number of portraits of everyday objects that you have.
Finally, reflect on the task.

Sample Reflection

Mic-E is the name of the photo that I have taken.  My microphone is an often overlooked and underappreciated member of my team (I didn’t even wipe the smudges off him before I took his picture).  So in order to give Mic-E the recognition he deserves, I gave him the hero treatment. 

I used a low angle to look up at him, as this tends to accentuate importance and power.  I offset him using rule of thirds which served to create a sense of movement and space while also building in an association with the background image.  

I used a desk lamp to add some highlights to his chrome work.  A white sheet of paper set to the darker side bounced light into the shadows to help show his full face.  The light temperature was kept slightly cool to tie into the background colors.

Post production included pulling back some highlights and adding some contrast. 

For free stock images to use as backgrounds use websites like:





Recording of the Shooting Process

Watch this video to see how it was done!

Editing Task

Download the image of Mic-E and give him some color toning treatments in Photoshop.  Try using a Black & White layer mask and a brightness/contrast layer or curve layer to build in some depth.

The Toy Challenge


Get a toy or model that you have and use your phone to create a studio style shot.  This model bike was shot today in a classroom using an A4 piece of white paper as the background and natural light.  Experiment and then upload your results to OneDrive and Share with me.

The Capture: The video below shows the process I used to photograph this image with my phone.

The Edit: This video walks through the editing process used on this image.

One of my clients is the Yamaha Race Team.  My camera may be a bit bigger when I do shoots for them, but the results are not really that different! I wonder how long before I will be shooting images in a professional capacity with a phone style camera?

Image Copyright Steve McMarson

You don’t need a fancy phone.

This image was shot on my super old phone.  And by super old, I mean nearly 10 years ago old. I did this to show that while fancy phones are nice, you can still have fun with any device that takes a picture.

Your mission is to shoot your own fruit ninja image.  I may even get around to taking another photo with my fancy phone and sharing it with you.


You don’t know the power of the darkside!

Editing note: google splash with black background to find a file.  Change the blending mode of the layer (I think it was overlay or screen). Mask out any parts that look excessive.
The spot healing brush was used to remove the fruit sticks.
From shooting to editing this took around 4 minutes to create.