Thursday 18 July 2019

I got a lesson in Instagram photography - here's what I learned

Caitlin McBride in Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone
Caitlin McBride in Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone
A scenic picture of Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone
Caitlin McBride in Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Some days at work are just better than others. Most of the time, I'm glued to my desk on Talbot Street, and once every five years or so, I find myself on a boat in Ibiza, learning how to take the perfect picture of the twinkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Huawei, the Chinese tech company infiltrating the Irish mobile market with aplomb, invited dozens of journalists and influencers from around Europe for a three-day stay in Spain, with an itinerary filled with so many Insta-themed activities it would make your head spin.

The purpose of the trip was to educate us on the more attractive aspects of an already sought-after phone. Technology editors and followers were already familiar with the brand's launch into the Irish market, but this time around it was about showcasing all it can do in one small (relatively speaking) screen.

The company launched its P20 and P20 Pro, two phones with professional style cameras earlier this year. It features the world's first Leica triple camera, AI advances and enhances the unique qualities of any photo subject to make it pop. Even the package homing the 5.8 inch screen has been carefully considered - the twilight purple to blue gradient case was a key element in choosing Ibiza to complement the 'twilight' waters, not to mention it reflects beautifully during a mirror selfie.

A scenic picture of Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone
A scenic picture of Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone

We put these functions to the test during a two-night stay at the five star Seven Pines Hotel, a resort which was not yet open to the public at the time, chosen for its uncompromised views of the crystal clear waters and distant views to get lost in gazing.

Not to mention the ample opportunity for celebrity sightings: I spotted YouTube superstar Tanya Burr and Hello! magazine queen Nancy Dell'Olio sunning themselves along the row of sun loungers near me. Outside, is a dock for yachts should you be that way inclined.

It offered the perfect backdrop for lessons from experienced photographers upskilling their long-honed expertise with larger equipment to more accessible technology in the phone. Kicking things off was an evening class teaching us the best ways to capture the picturesque sunset at Hostal Restaurante la Torre, a famous spot on the island for amateur photographers and those who just want to appreciate the beauty in nature. It was, in short, Instagram heaven.

I learned about tools like portrait (which focuses the subject and blurs the background), wide aperture (which allows you to control how much you blur the background) and Pro mode, which is a level I'm still not fit for. If you are a confident photographer though, this setting allows you to adjust focus, ISO, shutter speed, auto-focus, exposure, and white balance.

The next day was spent sailing the high seas on an old classic wooden ship, fit to fill any number of trigger happy media types as we coasted near the picturesque island of Formentera, where the water is so clear it rivals the Caribbean. It proved the perfecting setting for an infinite amount of action shots and swimsuit selfies, before heading to an afternoon glitter tutorial.

Staff from The Gypsy Shrine were flown especially from their UK base for the occasion, where each colour palette was carefully chosen in tandem with the phone. And before you know it, I'm walking around with a bejewelled forehead. 

Caitlin McBride in Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone
Caitlin McBride in Ibiza using a Huawei P20 phone

Each activity was chosen for its unique allegiance to characteristics of the phone, so chosen because it's being targeted at the lucrative millennial market, competing against long-standing number one Apple's endless iPhone launches and accessories and the emerging Android market.

But, as they say, you can lead a horse to water...where was I to begin with basic knowledge of photography? That's where the experts come in!

Here are three get-started tricks to kickstart your Instagram game:

  • Take plenty of options. Even when you think you have enough, take more. Afterwards, you can select your favourites and whittle down the editing process from there. And don't be afraid of editing software. Facetune is soooo 2016 (thankfully) and instead try Adobe or Snapseed. Professional photographers always tweak their work after, so it stands to reason that even with a quality camera, you might want a few touch-ups.
  • Loosen up. Usually it takes me at least two glasses of prosecco to start feeling (alright, demanding) pictures for my feed but after a three-day intensive course on light, direction, posing and emerging technology, I feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Get to know your angles, by - unfortunately - practicing in front of the mirror, or with a very patient friend. It's little use having quality equipment if you freeze like a deer in headlights every time you see the camera.
  • Look for the light! Having worked in a previous life in magazines and shadowed enough photographers in my work, you'd think I'd be better at identifying the right light, but I'm still a work in progress. Go against the light to naturally illuminate your face and give a dewy glow that usually takes a professional makeup artist to achieve.

Fast facts

Security: Fingerprint smart touch navigation

Camera spec: Leica Triple Camera, 5 xHybrid Zoom, dual-tone LED, AIS (artificial intelligence stabilization), light fusion technology

Storage: 6GB RAM, 128GB flash

Size and weight: 6.1" screen and 180 grams

Colour: It comes in three options - Black, Midnight Blue and Twilight.

The HUAWEI Twilight P20 is available with Three and Vodafone now. Prices start at €559.99 on prepay and are available at no upfront cost on bill pay.

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