Want to take better smartphone photos? We’ll show you how with these 10 tips!
The best camera is the one you have with you, and for many of us that is the camera in our cell phone. Fortunately for us, in recent years phones have become more advanced with a solid, built-in camera with great features including the iPhone (7 or newer), Google Pixel 4 and Samsung’s Galaxy (S10/S20) phones.
Whether you are building your portfolio or simply capturing candid moments in the student salon, we have a few important tips to elevate your phone photography game that will have your photos looking top notch. Here is our roundup of the best and brilliant photography tips and tricks for capturing professional-looking photos with your smartphone.
Always clean your phone camera lens before taking your first image. Over time your phone’s camera will accumulate dust, pocket lint and fingerprint smudges. This buildup on the lens can cause your images to look hazy, and no amount of post-editing can fix this. Oils and dirt can diffuse and diffract light entering the lens, so before you start, take a soft cloth and clear any debris from the camera lens. While wiping the lens with your T-shirt might do the job, we recommend a softer material such as a microfiber cloth. Beware that clothing fibers will scratch your lens.
The direction, color and brightness of your light source can have dramatic effects on a photo. A general rule to follow is to make sure that your primary light source is behind you, shining on the subject of the photo.
Ditch your flash! Turn it off and keep it off. It tends to make smartphone photos worse than if you were to go without, producing unwanted results such as glowing eyes or overly lit areas in your photo. Using flash will make photos look overexposed, making your subject look washed out by negatively altering colors. The best light is natural light.
If you need an artificial light source, consider using an LED lamp with an adjustable temperature or a ring light. After you take the photo, play with the “exposure” tool in your favorite photo editing app. Make the image slightly brighter, without making it too grainy.
Make your photos look more interesting and professional by embracing the “rule of thirds.” Turn on your camera grid on by following the instructions below. This will superimpose a series of lines over your image, forming a three-by-three grid. The idea is to line up the subject of your photo on one of the lines (horizontal or vertical) or where the lines intersect. This will bring balance to your photo, giving it a more natural look that is pleasing to the eye. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the quality of your smartphone photos.
Here’s how to activate gridlines on iPhone cameras:
And here’s how to activate gridlines on Samsung Galaxy (Android) phone cameras:
* Settings may vary slightly depending on which model you have.
Evoke a stronger reaction from your viewers by embracing negative space in your photos. This is the area around your subject in your image. The empty space in a photo will also help the subject stand out more and will take your photo from good to great! As a general rule, two-thirds of your photo should be negative space.
One of the most basic tips for taking better photos is to avoid zooming in on your subject. This will always produce poor results because it reduces the resolution of your image, making it look grainy, blurry or pixelated. The only good way to photograph something far away is to actually get closer. You will be amazed how this will help your overall image quality. If you can’t get closer, you are better off taking the photo at a distance and cropping it later on. This way, you won’t compromise quality, and it will be easier to optimize a larger image.
The best photos include only one interesting subject. Keep this in mind when setting up your shot. Tap the screen where your subject is located to set your camera’s focus. This will also ensure that the lighting is optimized for your photo. Using the rule of thirds and taking advantage of negative space, make sure your subject is not filling the entire frame.
Composing and taking your photo is the first step to making it visually compelling. Editing your photo is the next step. After you have taken your photo, use your favorite app to crop your subject correctly. Brightness, contrast, and saturation can all be adjusted right from your phone as well. Instead of using your phone’s built-in filters, try your hand at editing them yourself.
High dynamic range, or HDR, offers a better, balanced exposure in your photos by adding detail to the light and dark areas. It takes several different exposures—one dark, one light and one neutral—and creates a single highly-detailed image that includes a broad range of color and tones. This mode has become increasingly common and highly useful on many smartphones. When switched on, you even have the option to keep the original non-HDR version of the photo, which gives you more options to choose from.
There are a few ways to reduce camera shake when taking photos with your smartphone. Shaky hands or low-light conditions can often result in blurry photos. One way to reduce this is to lean your phone on a flat surface, like a wall, table or ledge.
Another useful tip is to turn your phone on its side. Not only is it a good idea to shoot your photos horizontally, but you get the added benefit of being able to use your “volume up” button as the shutter. Sometimes tapping the screen to take your shot can throw a perfect picture off-balance. This method increases the stability of your phone in your hand, reducing shaking.
Use your elbows. Resting your elbows on a surface or even tucking them into your body will help stabilize your phone in your hands. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly as you tap the shutter release button.
Lastly, try the two-second self-timer. Using your timer eliminates the need to tap the shutter release when taking a photo. This in turn reduces shake from tapping your phone. Enable the timer, press the shutter, then two seconds before the camera actually takes the shot, brace yourself and hold the phone firmly. Voila, no shake!
If you want to further reduce camera shake, it may be a good idea to buy a new accessory. Not only will a tripod steady the hand, but it gives you an amazing range of new techniques to try out like low-light photography. A tripod also gives you the freedom to take hands-free shots using your timer. A mobile tripod will ensure that your shot is level and balanced while reducing blur in your images.
Candid shots of people doing things, or people with people can be far more interesting than taking a posed photo. They are better able to effectively capture the emotion and essence of a moment. The best way to capture candid shots is to take as many photos as possible. The more moments you capture, the better chance you have of getting that perfect photo. Also try to be nonconventional. Some of the most remarkable photos come from unique ideas, so try thinking outside of the box, and you could be pleasantly surprised by an unexpected shot.
Taking photos from unique angles can make them more memorable. Taking your photos from different angles also creates an illusion of depth and height in your photo, helping it stand out more than if you took it straight on. Make sure to keep the camera level so you don’t get a tilted horizon, and keep an eye on the background to make sure you don’t see anything appearing to grow out of the top of someone’s head.
Are you taking awesome pictures with your phone? What tips can you share?