Phone LED Light HACK: How to Light COLORFUL Portraits with Your Smartphone

Phone LED Light HACK: How to Light COLORFUL Portraits with Your Smartphone

Here’s a quick run and gun light hack that I use all the time when it comes to portraits, product photography and light painting.

Let’s face it, we carry our phones with us EVERYWHERE these days. What many people don’t realize, is how the light from your phone can be used as a photography tool when you’re stuck in a tricky lighting situation!

Now we’re not talking about that bright, hard light on the back of your phone — we’re going to use your actual phone screen as a tiny LED light panel! You can do this with your tablets as well.

Why does this technique work better than the actual light on your phone?

It’s important to remember basics of light:

  • Larger Light Source = Softer Light
  • Smaller Light Source = Harder Light
  • Closer Light Source to Subject = Softer Light
  • Farther Light Source to Subject = Harder Light

Because your phone or tablet’s screen is a MUCH larger source, it creates MUCH softer light. Softer lights mean softer shadows and that’s why this is a great little hack for portrait photographers.

How to Use Your Phone as a Tiny LED Panel for Light Painting and Portraits light hack

For speed and manual control, I downloaded an app called ColorScreen which costs about $0.99 (at the time this article was published).

You also have the option of using Google Images to search for hues and save the photos to your phone or tablet for future use.

smartphone light hack run and gun tips and tricks

As I mentioned earlier, this is my go-to solution for light painting as well. The ability to quickly change Hue, Saturation and Brightness quickly, make a smartphone or tablet screen easier to use than most LED panel lights during a single long exposure

If you liked this video, be sure to check out my Portrait Lighting Tips for Beginners video for some basic portrait techniques.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried this trick and how it worked for you! Until next time, get out, and go shoot!

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