Tips for Taking High-Impact Photos With Low-Tech Cameras

Photo courtesy Sean Flanigan.

Whether you’re a seasoned photography vet or a super-fan who lacks the sophisticated equipment necessary to take professional photos, the time has come to get your lomography on. You can easily create jaw-dropping images of friends, family and the world around you by using simple low-tech cameras (aka “toy cameras”), or even your iPhone! Renowned wedding photographer and CreativeLive instructor Sean Flanigan, offers tips on how to use these low-budget cameras to take vibrant, high-contrast images, with a super-saturated look and artistic appeal.

First up, the iPhone. Both the 4S and 5 have pretty decent cameras that allow you to take low-resolution photos using apps like VSCO or Instagram. These apps offer an aesthetic design and beautiful presentation of your images, and Instagram in particular is a great way to showcase your photos thanks to the added hashtag feature. Both VSCO and Instagram give you an analog feel, and you can experiment with the different filters they come with. In fact, Sean points out that more photographers use iPhone images in their professional work than you might think, and playing around with the phone’s camera is a great way to learn about the barebones elements of photography like lighting and styling. You don’t have to think about apertures, you don’t have to think about ISO, and you barely have to think about exposure!

But even better than a simple iPhone camera? An even simpler toy camera like the Holga, LOMO LC-A, LOMO LC-W or a Black Slim Devil (Sean’s personal favorite). All of these cameras retain the look and feel of film, but they are much easier to work with and you don’t have to worry about settings — yet they’re still great tools for making creative and innovative images.

Photo courtesy Sean Flanigan.

Each toy camera is unique when it comes to focus, aperture and depth of field, but they all come with dividers — which are used to make half-frames. However, the real fun starts when you take the divider out. The camera will bleed an entire roll of film together and you’ll end up with a continuous flow of pictures. You can experiment with juxtaposing images, and be rewarded by how the photos blend together to create a seamless flow. (Just make sure to ask your photo lab to crop every two, three, or even six frames in order to get this panoramic look.)

The joy of lomography is being surprised by your results. Some photos may end up being a failure, while others will be a total success. Either way, lomography allows you to develop eye-popping, contrast-heavy images with a vintage-yet-modern aesthetic. The key is having fun, being willing to experiment, and not taking the process too seriously. You’ll be amazed by the stunning images you can create with a camera that costs you almost as little as your film.

Photo courtesy Sean Flanigan.
Photo courtesy Sean Flanigan.

 To learn more photography pro tips, check out the CreativeLive photography catalog.


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Mehera Bonner is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.