Photography Hack: How to Use a Phone Screen to Create Enchanting Portraits

Photography Hack by Mathias Fast

With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever for photographers to create images that are not only breathtaking but also ignite our sense of wonder. Often, this is through photo manipulation in programs like Photoshop. But photographer Mathias Fast has recently introduced a fantastic photography hack that will give your images a fantastical, ethereal feel without you having to know your way around a computer. (Although it helps.) He simply uses his phone screen to add a reflective element to an image that makes an otherwise grounded composition feel like it’s floating.

There are a number of benefits to this clever photography trick, which requires nothing more than a smartphone and DSLR camera. “By using a phone screen as a reflective surface,” Fast explains, “it is possible to cover up unsightly elements, add intrigue, and make an image that much more interesting.”

You can easily perform this photography hack. Start by holding your phone horizontally at the bottom of your camera lens. At that point, look through the DSLR viewfinder. You’ll see part of your composition reflected onto the lower half of the image. Based on what you see, adjust your phone slightly—but still hold it close to the lens—to get the reflection you want. Then, snap your picture and you’re done!

Fast has several tips for making the most of the technique. One is to remove a bulky phone case; doing so will “create a more seamless reflection.” Another tip is to apply a gradient in post-production, which will add balance to the image and even out the tone of the reflection. (Often, a reflection will appear lighter or darker than the rest of your picture.)

Fast suggests using architectural elements in this hack. Windows and arches tend to reflect well. And while the results can be really dramatic, they don’t have to be—sometimes adding a hint of a mirroring is all you need.

Photographer Mathias Fast has a clever photography hack that requires only a DSLR camera and your smartphone.

Photography Trick by Mathias Fast

By positioning your smartphone at the base of your DSLR lens, you can create images that have a fantastical, ethereal feel.

iPhone Trick for Photography

iPhone Trick for Photography

It can also help you cover up “unsightly elements” in a setting:

iPhone Trick for Photography

Fast has some tips to make the most of this ingenious technique.

iPhone Trick for Photography

Remove that bulky case and adjust your phone to change how the reflection looks in your image.

iPhone Trick for Photography

Architectural elements make for great mirrored images.

iPhone Trick for Photography

Although it's not necessary, adding a gradient in post-production can help make the image appear more even toned…

iPhone Trick for Photography

… because the part that's reflected often looks lighter or darker than the rest of the picture.

Photography Hack by Mathias Fast

And finally, while you can create dramatic reflections, sometimes just a little mirroring is all you need.

Photography Hack by Mathias Fast

Mathias Fast: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Mathias Fast.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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