10 Important Tips to Take Better Pictures With Phones

Do you use a standard SLR camera? Who remembers those disposable low-resolution cameras you could take into a one-hour photo shop? If the answer is “not me,” you probably only use a mobile phone. However, this isn’t bad news since some phones’ cameras are incredible.

For example, Samsung’s S23 Ultra camera boasts a “200MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and 10MP dual telephoto” as a  standard feature. In short, professional-level photos have never been easier. But how do you take good phone photos?

1. Become Camera Savvy

Joyful woman taking photo
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Many people buy a phone and never use it to its full potential, especially with different shot types and editing features. Your phone’s camera may be hiding some secrets that could help you produce effortless shots, such as an image stabilizer, image correction filters, and background removal tools. Furthermore, using your phone’s tools saves time and effort.

2. Light Source

Style woman using smartphone with stabilizer, taking pictures
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The first rule of the “light club” is knowing where your light source is. Too many amateurs take grainy, oversaturated images because they face the light rather than shooting away from it. Of course, subjects hate staring into bright lights, so even a slight angle from the source is good. Bouncing boards are a great way of redirecting light. Amateur Photographer also offers tinfoil as a great light-bouncing alternative.

3. The Rule of Thirds

Young man taking photo
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Any photographer knows the “rule of thirds” is essential for filling out your photo properly, depending on the subject. IPhone Photography School argues that images split in two are less attractive. “In general, landscapes don’t look good if the horizon is positioned directly across the centre of the photo,” explains the post. “Positioning the horizon centrally tends to chop the photo in half and isn’t very pleasing to the eye.”

4. Shooting in Pro Mode

Taking photo with Pro Android smartphone
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Thinking about f-stop, ISO, white balance, manual focus, and aperture can feel daunting for any newcomer, but it doesn’t need to be. Understanding the relationship between white balance, light, and ISO takes a few practice shots in different light conditions. Moreover, once you’re adept at shooting in raw mode, you can learn how to use Photoshop, which benefits more from raw images, says Adobe.

5. Shutter Speed

Chef taking photo of food
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Once you master your light source and white balance, your ISO comes into play. However, there is a dichotomy between ISO and shutter speed. Effectively, ISO defines the amount of shot exposure, while the shutter speed dictates how much light comes into the shutter. Therefore, a slow shutter speed and low ISO make great sunsets, while a fast shutter speed and higher ISO work for faster images, such as traffic scenes. Gadget 360 recommends faster shutter speeds for high-action shots or wildlife scenes involving many moving parts. A perfect combination is a fast shutter and a strong light source.

6. Subject Perspective

Taking photo of kid
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Humans love things to look symmetrical in everyday life, but does this always work for photography? Certain photos require perspective equity — portraits, reflective images, or buildings offer great symmetrical variety. However, sometimes, it works to put your subject in the foreground, breaking the photo’s symmetry entirely. While symmetry doesn’t always mean sacrificing the “rule of thirds” ethos, sometimes it might. The School of Photography offers several excellent tips for making symmetry work.

7. Never Use Digital Zoom

Taking picture of elephant in mobile
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Few phone cameras on the market have great zoom, although this is improving with models such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or the iPhone 8 Plus X. The problem with digital zoom, as opposed to optical zoom, is that it zooms in the pixels, resulting in a grainy look. Therefore, getting closer to your subject will produce better results — unless you’re trying to photograph a car’s license plate in an emergency.

8. Light Quality

Young girl taking selfie
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Have I mentioned light yet? Light is to a photographer what a good kitchen is to a chef. With the wrong conditions for producing one’s art, its quality will suffer. While many Main Street professional photographers prefer a studio setting, where they can control the quality and tone of their lighting, nothing beats natural lighting. Mid-mornings and evenings produce warmer tones, and clearer outdoor shots are most likely after rain. Professional photographer Mark Delong says the “golden hour” before sunset and after sunrise produces the softest tones with striking contrasts. Low-lying clouds can often give dramatic results, too.

9. Show Filter Moderation

Taking photo of food with filter
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Yes, we know there is a purist contingent of “no-filter” braggarts who loathe the idea of manipulating a photograph. However, some photo nerds have taken the no-filter look to new heights: Picmonkey has invented a new “no-filter filter” for those who revel in blemishes or the harsh light they want. Let’s be honest: this extreme beats the other end of the duck-mouthed, catfishing filter spectrum. Using filters to clean up light, shadow, and contrast parameters improves amateur photos.

10. Embrace Inanimate Objects

Taking photo of nature using tripod
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

How many vacation photos have you seen where subjects appear as if they are standing on a hill? Even worse, how many great memories are blurred by the camera in night conditions? This issue is caused by the slow shutter speed necessary for letting light into the shot. A simple solution is using a table, handrail, or wall to stabilize your phone. This technique is useful if you don’t want to carry a tripod everywhere.

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