Tips for Taking Better Photos with Your Phone

Here are some tips and tricks to help you improve your smartphone photography skills and capture the highlights of your next vacation.

Smart phones with cameras are ubiquitous. A recent article from the New York Times estimates that in 2017 we will take 1.3 trillion photos, 75% of which will be taken with smart phones. But how many of those images will be frame-worthy shots, and how many will be deleted? Whether you’re shooting on a DSLR or your phone, following some general rules of composition can go a long way.

  • Utilize the rule of thirds. The easiest way to do this is to turn on your phones photo grid on (here’s instructions on how to do this on the latest iPhone) and position the subject of your photo on where the lines intersect.

  • If you really want to head down a rabbit hole, take some time to learn about the golden mean.

  • When looking for a subject look around and look for lines that draw your eye (think paths, trails, and staircases), repeating patterns (like a bank of windows or a row of trees) or symmetrical scenes.

  • Play with depth. Try placing different interesting elements in the fore, middle and background of your photo. Try focusing on different elements as you snap (usually you can just tap your phone’s screen to focus on an element).

  • When you do decide to take a picture, take several pictures of the same subject from several different perspectives and wait until later to look for the best shot.

Beyond the general rules of composition, there are some things to keep in mind while shooting specifically with your phone.  

Shooting in landscape can save you the hassle of cropping your photos later.

  • Keep your phone in camera mode and out. You never know when the perfect picture might present itself, you don’t want to miss it because you were fumbling to get your phone out of your pocket.

  • Don’t zoom. At the time of this writing, smart phone zooms just aren’t very good. Zooming in can result in grainy or blurry images. If you feel like your subject is too small, get closer or crop the image later.

  • Don’t use your phones flash, they tend to wreak havoc on a pictures colors. If you’re shooting at night, looking for sources of light in your environment – like streetlights and signs and use those.

  • Alternatively avoid direct sunlight, this can washout your photos. Move your subject into the shade for better pictures.

  • Due to the fact that that camera phones comes with smaller sensors, they are well suited for taking close up shots. Experiment with capturing little things like the veins in a leaf, the intricate designs in marble or the texture of a cobblestone street.

  • Make sure to include photos of people, they add variety to a camera roll full of landscapes.

  • Hold your phone with both hands to keep it as steady as possible to avoid blur or if you want to take it a step further consider buying an inexpensive tripod for your phone.

  • Shoot in landscape whenever possible. It’s easier to crop a landscape photo into a portrait than vice versa.

  • Have fun with it!  

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