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5 creative photo projects to try with your phone while bored in lockdown


It’s not as difficult as you may think.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

If you feel your creativity drop while locking as the coronavirus pandemic continues, don’t think there’s no way to flex your photography muscles – there are plenty of ways to flex those photography muscles at home using just your phone whether you’re shooting on an iPhone 12 Pro Max, Galaxy S21 Ultra, Pixel 5 or another, older phone.

It might be tempting to watching Netflix all day longBut trying new creative challenges can not only help keep your mind focused, it can also teach you some new skills to use later. If nothing else, it might just be avoid boredom a little longer

I’ve put together some of my favorite ideas for creative challenges you can do with your phone without leaving your own home.

isolating itself

Composite photography can take a while, but it’s worth it.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

1. Make a creative composition

Composite photography means that different photographic elements from multiple images are combined into one finished shot. At a basic level, it can be used to simply replace a sky on a landscape image, but with some experimentation it can provide endless possibilities for creativity.

In my case, I wanted to compose myself in the same scene multiple times – almost like it shows all the different things I could do in one frame throughout the day.

Putting it together was pretty easy. Here’s how:

1Place the phone on a tripod.

2Frame your shot as required using the lens options, if available.

3Set your phone to a 10 second timer or use a Bluetooth remote.

4Step into your scene and take a picture.

5Go to multiple positions and take a photo every time.

6Blend the images in Photoshop by overlaying them and erasing the areas you don’t want.


I took this selfie with the front camera of the iPhone 11 Pro, in portrait mode, right against the window of my living room to create the mirror effect. I edited in Lightroom mobile.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

2. Practice portraits

Staying at home can be a good time to sharpen your portrait photography. Whether you’re taking a photo of a partner, a family member, a roommate, or even your pet, there are interesting topics all around you. Live alone? No problem, flip that camera over and use selfie mode, or even put your phone on a tripod if you have one and start raiding for the camera – or work on your still life setup (more on this below).

Look around your house and see where you think it could be an interesting scene. Maybe you have an old leather chair that someone could pose in. Maybe you have an unusual carpet that you can leave your subject on so you can shoot from above. You can also try some pictures while looking wistfully out the window.

Also experiment with the lighting. Natural light coming in through windows is the best choice, so taking photos nearby is a good place to start. But maybe there is a cool lamp that you could use as a single moody light source to add some artistic drama to the recording. You can also grab an LED light panel from Amazon and try adding your own.


Okay, it’s not the best picture of food in the world, but I’m pretty limited in what I can cook right now and at least this omelet was more appealing than the baked beans I had yesterday. I put the board on a nice table top by a window and immediately shot with my iPhone.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

3. Still life scenes

Still life can contain many different types of photos – from bright and airy photos from above of a delicious salad or frozen meal you have made, on product photos from your laptop, game controller, new shoes, or anything you think could shoot well. You can even just grab a nice selection of things from your home that, if artfully arranged, can make a pretty picture.

The lighting principles are much the same as for your portraits. Use windows whenever possible, as they are likely to provide the largest, brightest light sources in your home. Food photographers regularly use natural light in their images to give their photos a realistic lifestyle. Play with where you position your subjects and try shooting from different angles to get the light exactly where you want it.

4. Make a short movie

Making a short film can be a lot of fun because you have to think about several different production elements. First, of course, that’s what your movie should be about. You may want to try filming a gritty crime drama with your family as the cast. Maybe it’s about your cat and the things they do during the day.

My short film was all about the process of making a delicious cup of tea. After deciding which movie to make, I thought about the steps that would be required to film the process. For your crime drama, this would be when you’re writing a script and figuring out what pictures you need to put it all together.

Making a cup of tea is a very formal process, so knowing what to film was easy: fill the kettle with water, wait for it to boil, pour the water, and so on. I added some extra scene shots at the beginning and a final shot of me enjoying the tea I made.

It was made entirely on my iPhone 11 Pro, using an Edelkrone slider that allows you to create smooth, glide motion for your photos and an anamorphic lens per Moment, to give that cinematic wide aspect ratio. I edited it in Adobe Premiere on my MacBook Pro ($ 894 at Back Market), but you could easily edit your own movie in iMovie right on your iPhone or with Adobe Premiere Rush on your Android phone.

I really enjoyed the process as it forced me to think not only about angles and lighting as I would in my normal photography, but also how to visually tell a story that made sense to someone watching. It was a lot of fun experimenting more with my shooting and editing style too, so it was definitely a great way to spend a few hours at home on a quiet afternoon.


The unedited shot (left), next to the final version (right). I used the iPhone’s long exposure mode to blur the water and then used various color tools in Lightroom mobile to create the look you see here.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

5. Work on your edit

You may not be able to go out and take a whole bunch of new photos, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put the photos you’ve already taken to good use.

Both the Android and iOS app stores are full of apps that provide a wealth of creative editing options for your images, with a seemingly limitless number of filters, frames, and funky flair for you to apply.

Snapseed is my favorite and it’s free on both platforms. It has a variety of color filters available (including filters that give your scene a punchy ‘HDR’ look, as well as more vintage tone options), but it also offers more in-depth editing tools, such as the ability to selectively paint the brightness in only the areas you want. You can also get more creative with apps like Photofox and Bazaart, both of which I used to create the self-portrait at the top of this article.

My advice is to browse your gallery on your phone and look back at the weeks, months, or years of photos you’ve taken. Mark the ones that really stand out as your favorites, then settle down on your couch with your favorite drink, fire up some editing apps, and hit the town during your photos.

Not only could you breathe new life into photos you’ve long forgotten about, but you can also learn some valuable new techniques that you can put into practice when you can finally start shooting again.

Read more: 5 Masterclass Lessons To Become A Filmmaker: Learn From Martin Scorsese, Jodie Foster & More

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