Last Updated: July 3, 2019
Thanks to phone photography, we’re taking vastly more photos now than ever before. It’s accessible and convenient, and it allows us to capture fleeting moments before they’re gone.
However, the convenience of smartphone photography is no reason to sacrifice quality or attention to detail. After all, editing can’t fix everything.
Read through these tips to learn simple and creative ways to improve all the photos you take with your phone.
📷 Take Advantage of Your Phone Camera’s Potential
1. Turn on the Camera Grid
If photographing a scene where straight lines (vertical or horizontal) are prominent, the grid will help you find the vantage point that will produce perfectly straight lines, whether it’s a distant horizon or the window frame on a house.
The grid is also key for capitalizing on the rule of thirds – where you place a focal point at one of the intersecting grid lines for an aesthetically pleasing image.
How to turn on the grid: For iPhone users: Open phone settings, select Camera, turn Grid on. For Android users: Open your camera, click settings icon, select Grid lines and select 3x3.
2. Focus + Expose Correctly
When you’re taking a photo on your phone, remember that you can tap anywhere on the screen to adjust the focus and exposure (brightness) to that desired focal point.
If you tap to focus on an element but the exposure is still too bright or dark, simply swipe up or down until the ideal exposure is achieved.
When to lock the exposure and focus: Tap and hold on a focal point to activate the AE/AF lock. This feature is helpful if you want to prevent the auto-focus feature from fixating on moving people or elements in the background.
3. Capture Movement with Burst Mode
If photographing a subject in motion, the best way to capture the winning action shot on your phone is with the burst mode. Simply hold down the shutter button and your phone camera will capture a rapid series of shots – perfect for your dog as she jumps to catch a Frisbee, or your son as he swings for a home run.
After you take a burst of photos: Open your photo album and tap on the burst. Tap Select to swipe through all the shots you captured, and save only the best.
📷 Account For Your Phone Camera’s Limitations
4. Find Your Light, Skip the Flash
If you haven’t already, open your phone’s camera now and change Auto flash to Off. A phone’s flash is almost always too harsh. Fortunately, phone camera technology (and editing tools) continue to improve their low-light capabilities.
The better option: Whenever possible, move to a space that’s better lit or find ways to add softer light to your setting.
5. Zoom with Your Feet, Not Your Fingers
Most smartphone cameras are not able to provide high-quality photos with their digital zoom function. Get as close as you can to your subject to capture the best detail without zoom. Then, crop or zoom in the editing stage for the best quality possible.
6. Phone Photography Focus Tricks
Even if you tap to focus (see #2), phones can still have trouble achieving clarity. Keep these focus tips in mind:
- Prevent shutter shake: Hold your phone with two hands or brace your phone along a stable surface as you take photos. You can also use the timer to ensure hands-free clarity.
- To focus on a delicate foreground – like frost on a window or dandelion puffs – hold your hand to the same distance, lock the focus on your hand, then remove your hand and snap the photo.
- Create an intentional blur: You can also use the handy tip above to photograph lights with an out-of-focus bokeh effect.
Remember, it’s not the camera that makes a photo great – it’s the eye. As you continue to improve your phone photography skills, celebrate your favorites by turning them into unique photo gifts or filling the pages of a custom photography portfolio book.