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Top Tips For Capturing Great Mobile Photography Images At Festivals This Summer

As many of you will be aware, festival season is on the horizon and we are not alone in thinking that they represent fabulous photo opportunities for mobile photographers. We contacted Huawei Ambassador Erik Voake and Huawei European Head of Handset Portfolio and Planning Arne Herkelmann, asking them to share some tips with our readers, helping you capture the perfect picture across festivals throughout the world this summer.

Their answers relate to using a Huawei P20 Pro device, I have one of these and highly recommend it. It has been co-engineered with Leica and comes complete with the World’s first triple lens camera on a smartphone, combining the most advanced camera system with the most intelligent camera experience to bring the knowledge of a professional photographer to your fingertips.  Using the power of AI, the Huawei P20 Pro understands an image in real time and automatically adjusts camera settings to choose the right skills for the right moment.

Take a look at these top tips festival mobile photography tips!

All Images ©Erik Voake


Get to know your smartphone and all the features it offers. It’s likely you’ll find tools that help you create a beautiful image you weren’t originally planning to capture, especially with all the cool filters. The more you practice, the faster the camera will become an extension of yourself. 

Arne Herkelmann (AH) – “Ultra Snapshot on the HUAWEI P20 Pro features a launch-to-capture speed of 0.3 seconds, which enables you to take a picture within moments of getting your phone out of your pocket – ensuring you never miss that moment and always get that shot.”

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Keep the lens clean

It sounds so obvious, but you’ll often be carrying your smartphone around in a pocket or in a bag and the lens can easily get dirty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people ask me why their photos are blurry, only to look at their phone and see a giant fingerprint on the lens. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you!

AH – “The HUAWEI P20 Pro offers extraordinary vision in a compact and beautiful glass and metal body, as well as featuring a silicone edge which will protect the phone and camera in a festival environment. Plus, the P20 Pro has an IP67 rating (dustproof and waterproof resistant up to 1m), so you can simply rinse the camera in clear water for easier cleaning of the lenses.”

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Don’t stand still

 When you arrive at a musician’s set don’t stand in just one place! Move around through the crowd to capture different angles. Shoot some wide angles showing the stage, shoot some close up, go to the side of the stage (both sides) and capture as many angles as possible. As you move through the crowd you will almost always notice something you didn’t originally see and now you can capture that! 

AH  “The HUAWEI P20 Pro features the world’s first Leica triple camera on a smartphone which delivers 5x Hybrid Zoom, so you can see further than ever before. This means that you don’t need to worry about being right at the front of the crowd to get that amazing shot of an act on stage.” 


Flip it to get it

Because we are used to holding our smartphones vertically, it’s easy to forget that you can switch this up, depending on what frames the image best. You can hold your phone “upside down”, bringing the lens lower if you want to play with perspective. The fact your smartphone is small allows for more opportunity to discover new angles and perspectives… take advantage of it. 

AH  “The HUAWEI P20 Pro features an AI photography assistant which will automatically show a horizon line exactly when needed, to help you capture the perfectly composed picture.”


No mic nose…

What’s mic nose you ask? Musicians will usually sing right into the mic, resulting in a portion of their face being covered, making their nose disappear. It’s tempting to run right to the front and centre of a crowd to try and get the best shot of a lead singer. But what good is a photo of a person where half their face is covered? My advice… stand to the side a bit so you can get a better profile, and when the artist steps back from the mic, wait for them to look around and snap a beautiful clear shot of their face with no equipment obstructing it. That way, you’ll get a much better shot. 

AH – “The HUAWEI P20 Pro uses 4D Predictive Focus to track a moving object across 5 zones of the frame to predict the perfect photo, so whether the musician is dancing around the stage or even steps back from the mic, your smartphone has it covered.”


Lights, camera… still lights 

At a festival, you’re at the mercy of whatever type of lighting the concert venue is providing. Prince was known for playing entire sets in the dark, there are artists who prefer moody red, pink and purple lighting for their sets. If you’re struggling with over exposure or an image being too dark, don’t fret – take the photos anyway and change them to black and white – or even better shoot in black and white, which can look amazing. 

AH – “The HUAWEI P20 Pro Night Mode enables you to capture perfect photos in low light and at night at concerts without needing a tripod. There’s also a dedicated black and white lens on the triple camera, helping you to capture perfect, stylised shots.”

Composition and framing

When it comes to composition there are all sorts of rules, but rules were made to be broken and a lot of the greatest artists were and are rule breakers. The main thing is to centre your subject and avoid having too much negative space in an image. Don’t worry about what you should be doing and instead try new things, push your creativity. You can always delete an image, but you’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t snap that shot. 

AH – “Whether it be selfies, larger group shots or candid portraits, the AI assisted composition and auto mode selection tools on the HUAWEI P20 Pro choose the best settings for whatever picture you’re taking.” 


The Golden Hour

Nothing beats gorgeous sunlight. When the sun begins to set it creates a unique ‘golden’ light. Wherever you are, remember that as the sun goes down, your chances of getting that beautiful portrait or landscape shot only increase. Take advantage of the natural light and play around with the position of the sun in your photos – you can backlight people for a silhouette effect or even use an object to partially hide the sun, capture flare and add an artistic touch to anything you’re shooting.

AH – “It doesn’t matter what is in the shot, the HUAWEI P20 Pro automatically puts you in the correct mode, so as the sun goes down, the phone will understand that by switching to Sunset Mode, giving you the perfect settings for the photo you’re trying to capture.” 

The main event

One of the biggest challenges with live music photography is capturing an image that parallels what you experienced, especially as artists are getting more and more creative with the whole experience of their performance – it’s more than just the music – there’s costumes, lighting and special effects too. But there are one or two critical things you can do to capture “the moment”. Put your phone into burst mode to take several images very quickly so that you don’t miss a thing – you can choose the best one afterwards. 

AH – “Zero shutter lag, outstandingly quick burst capability and incredible action detection helps capture blink-and-miss-it shots in pin sharp detail, meaning the HUAWEI P20 Pro won’t let you miss a moment of the festival.”


When the sun goes down

Some of the most spectacular moments at a festival happen after the sun has set, but it can be a struggle to capture great shots at night. Most devices have a lowlight mode to help you get that shot. 

AH – “The 40MP lens with Light Fusion technology on the HUAWEI P20 Pro delivers stunning photos in extreme low light conditions, enabling you to capture images with less noise, less grain and better detail and contrast.” 

It’s an experience

Festivals are about more than just music now, so be sure to capture that as well! With amazing food, crazy outfits, rides, games and more on the festival grounds there’s great opportunities to capture some intriguing images that will tell the story of your festival experience far beyond just a single performance photo could. Keep your eyes open… there’s a lot going on, take advantage of it! 

AH “The AI driven power management of the HUAWEI P20 Pro maximises efficiency and guarantees the outstanding battery performance of the phone, ensuring that running out of charge isn’t the reason you’ll ever miss a moment at a festival.” 


While You’re Here

TheAppWhisperer has always had a dual mission: to promote the most talented mobile artists of the day and to support ambitious, inquisitive viewers the world over. As the years passTheAppWhisperer has gained readers and viewers and found new venues for that exchange.

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Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website—— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]