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18 Easy Ways to Take Beautiful Videos With Your Phone

Take videos as easily as photos with these pro tips.

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Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Kevin Lu / Via

1. Use a tripod to keep your device steady while filming.

"Because I can't bring big tripods into a lot of venues, I like to just use a table top mount," photographer Kevin Lu told BuzzFeed Life. He always has a Manfrotto tripod on hand, along with a Reticam smartphone mount ($25), and a pair of Apple earbuds to trigger the camera shutter (by pressing the button in between the volume buttons).

2. Don't have a tripod? Here's a time lapse hack: use Gaffer's Tape.

Tape is an essential shooting accessory for Lu. "What I love about my iPhone is that it's so light. If there are interesting clouds or something, I can just tape the phone onto a plane window with Gaffer's tape and film a time lapse," he told BuzzFeed Life.

3. Slow-motion can make a simple scene look more complex.

The look is similar to that of a "cinemagraph," a still photo where only a part of the image is animated. This video is what photographer/designer Erica Allison calls a 'long photo'. "I like the subtle movements. It's not the same thing as a cinemagraph, because there is more information in a [long photo] than a picture," she told BuzzFeed Life.

4. Upload slow-motion videos to Instagram using third-party apps like Slow Fast Slow (Free, iOS) or reAction (Free, Android).

Professional photographer Kevin Lu suggests importing the footage into his favorite slo-mo app, Slow Fast Slow, which allows you to speed up and slow down different scenes in the same video. Confused? Watch the video above of an ice skater to see what he means!

5. Add beautiful filters to your videos with Chromic (Free, iOS).

Photographer Vincent Trinh told us that Chromic, which also includes tools to edit the video's shutter speed, contrast and ISO, is his go-to app for filters.

6. Turn boring group shots into mesmerizing cinemagraphs with Flixel (free, iOS).

Photographer Kevin Lu, who created this video with Flixel, explained to BuzzFeed Life why he's such a fan of this format: "It's kind of hypnotizing, and so different than what you're used to seeing."

7. Add wide borders to your landscape-oriented videos, using Squaready (Free, iOS).

Squaready is what Erica Allison uses to add white borders to all of her videos. This one of her 13-year-old dog Pebbles was chosen for Apple's Shot on iPhone campaign.

8. Hyperlapse (Free, iOS), which instantly stabilizes footage, is a great way to capture children or pets.

The two hardest subjects to photograph are buzzing kids and creatures, which makes them ideal subjects for filming! Hyperlapse is an app by Instagram that can stabilize videos at one to six times the video's normal speed. Photographer and designer Cielo De La Paz told BuzzFeed Life that she often uses the app to film her sons Nolan and Grayson.

9. Crop on the Fly (Free, iOS) is an app that can crop videos on a frame-by-frame basis.

The app, which is one of my personal favorites, can adjust crops in real-time and fix vertical video syndrome.

10. For more powerful video editing, use Adobe Clip (Free, iOS) or KineMaster (Free, Android).

De La Paz told BuzzFeed Life: "Adobe Clip allows me to mess around with exposure, shadow, add music, highlights, and slow it down."

When it comes to editing, adding some treatment to your videos is always best. She explained, "It doesn't take a lot to treat your shadows or highlights and many people don't know that. I like to bump up the black [in my videos], so that there's more contrast between darks and lights. It's so worth it."

11. A lens attachment can make ALL the difference.

Lens attachments clip right on to your phone — and they're not just great for stills. Cielo De La Paz used Olloclip's Macro Lens ($70) to get up close and personal with this ladybug.

12. Lens hack: binoculars and telescopes are great DIY lenses, too.

Allison captured this neat perspective of Mt. Hood in Washington by holding her phone up to a pay-by-coin telescope. She added music with the iMovie app ($5, iOS).

13. Shooting videos drains your phone's battery — so bring a backup.

Lu swears by Anker ($22 to $80) external battery packs over the Mophie brand: "They last longer."

14. Use your earbuds to trigger the shutter.

Fusion's creative director of video Danilo Lauria told BuzzFeed Life that he uses his mouth to press the volume control remote so he can hold the phone with both of his hands. This shortcut works with the headphones ($30) that come with the iPhone.

Fusion's creative director of video Danilo Lauria told BuzzFeed Life that he uses his mouth to press the volume control remote so he can hold the phone with both of his hands. This shortcut works with the headphones ($30) that come with the iPhone.

It's really easy to do.

15. When filming, use your phone's AE/AF (auto-exposure and auto-focus) lock.

"So if the lighting changes a little bit, the exposure will stay the same," Allison explained.

To use AE/AF lock on your iPhone, tap the screen as if you're tapping to focus, but hold down the square until it flickers. If you've successfully turned on AE/AF lock, it should look like this:

16. Before shooting, take a minute to envision how you want the video to look.

Having said that, Lauria also stressed, "Make mistakes. Don't be scared. That's the best way to come up with something new and "fresh."

In this video, Lauria captures meeting strangers in slow motion. He attached a wide-lens Olloclip on his phone, held it in one hand, and shook with the other. "You always need something to tell a story and using your hands or feet is very effective, because the audience can feel like they are the character," he explained.

17. But don't overthink it.

"Keep it simple," Allison advises. "With social media, people are inclined to post immediately. Don't post it right away, think about it for a moment. "

18. If you're stuck, try to get you creative juices flowing by taking this photographer's advice.

"There's not much to it. The only thing I can say is try to come up with a narrative," photographer Vincent Trinh told us. "Put on a pair of headphones, pick your favorite music, and write down things that inspires you. It doesn't have to be something convoluted – it can be something simple as a narrative about your commute, or a day at the beach. All the technical stuff: lighting, composition, editing techniques, that can be learned through practice. Just go out, shoot and have fun with it."