25 Best Smartphone Camera Tips & Tricks To Take Awesome Photographs
1. Always Be Ready
Keep your smartphone camera in ready-mode always, as there is no telling when you might get an opportunity to take photographs. The best opportunities arrive when you are least expecting, so make sure that your phone is always within reach.
Ready means the smart phone is charged the lenses are perfectly clean. Carrying a charger & a Power Bank with you at all times, is really helpful, as you can charge the phone every time you have a stopover at a Starbucks or a Pizza Hut. To save the phone’s battery, you can keep it in the airplane mode. This ensures that you do not get distracted and will be ever ready to take good, quality photographs.
2. Capture As Many Photographs As Possible
Look around you; the world is full of amazing photographic opportunities. Do you have your smartphone camera with you? Start shooting! There is no telling when the perfect camera opportunity might hit you.
To make sure that the opportunity, does not fly by , a simple trick is to is to take as many photographs as possible and to be always on the lookout for the perfect shot. The more photographs you click, the better you will get at it.
Also, do not over-think while taking photographs. Using a smartphone camera is an intuitive experience. Otherwise, you might lose the opportunity to take a good shot forever. The best photographers are confident about their skills and don’t hesitate when taking a shot.
3. Build Your Skills, Learn The Basics
Smartphone cameras are excellent, but they are still not as powerful as some of the DSLR cameras you may have used. They have a much lower megapixel count, for one. It is not easy to take crisp shots with them or do much in the way of the depth of field as mobile cameras lack manual controls.
Though, the editing apps that you download for your iPhone or Android are pretty decent, they are nowhere as good as Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. This is not to dishearten you, but to make you aware of the limitations of smartphone cameras.
You can still take excellent photographs with your cameras, comparable to those taken on a DSLR, provided you stick to the basics. The basics of photography are the same for all types of cameras.
This means you should be aware of the composition, the lighting, lines, colours and the placement of the object. The more you focus on the basics of photography, the better you will get at it.
4. Join An Online Photo-Sharing Community
As an amateur photographer, will want your talent to be recognised. Join an online photo-sharing community, such as Instagram or Flickr.
Not only will you be able to connect with your friends and share your photographs with them, but you will also be able to interact with an experienced photographer and seek them for valuable advice.
Also, you will get live feedback, critical reviews and constructive suggestions on every photo clicked from your friends, followers and the photographers fraternity. This will help you to appraise yourself, know your strengths and weakness, scope for improvement. Many talented and acclaimed photographers had their first success on photo-sharing sites such as Instagram and used this platform to build a career in professional photography.
5. Clean The Lens
The most basic tip is to clean your smartphone lens on a regular basis. This is mandatory and needs to be done since, a smartphone is a gadget, used and handled most of the time everyday. As a result, the lens gets covered by dirt, dust, fingerprints, smudges and grease. This affects the quality of the photographs to a considerable extent.
It is very hard to take great photographs when the lens is dirty. This blocks light from getting through to the camera’s sensors. It leaves blurs, smudges and dust spots on the images, which further erodes their quality. Cleaning the lens every day ensures that you get clear, sharp images with your smartphone.
How to clean the lens? This should be simple enough. Take a soft linen cloth and clean the lens with it every time, before, you start shooting. Don’t use any cloth made from coarse or abrasive material to clean the lens; this would further damage the lens.
6. Learn The Technical Details Of Your Phone Camera
very smartphone camera has certain limitations. For example, if you have an old model iPhone, such as an iPhone 5S, you will find that it is not too good for night photography. The pictures taken in dim light appear blurred. This type of camera is better for shooting during the daytime.
Similarly, every smartphone camera has its peculiarities that make it unique. You should make it a point to go through the user manual that comes with the phone carefully, even though you think you know all about it. There is probably much that you do not know. The user manual will have many tips on the basics of using the phone camera such as controlling the exposure, focusing better for close-up photography, and more.
7. Setting The Focus
Setting the focus is probably the most important thing you should do when taking a photograph. How to do this with your phone camera?
On iPhones and most Android phones, this is pretty easy – you just need to tap the screen where your subject lies in the frame. Look for a small yellow square, which appears when the camera finds a focus point. This is a signal for you to go ahead and to take the picture.
What if the subject is in motion, or is moving around? Then, you should tap the screen just before taking the shot. This way you can make sure that the subject remains in focus. Now, if the picture still appears to be blurred, you should use some of the photo editing apps such as After Focus, Photo Blur Editor, and Fix Photo Blur, to name just a few.
8. Adjust Exposure Manually
Smartphones allow you to automatically adjust the focus, wherein the camera sets the exposure. What is exposure ? It tells you how bright or how dark the image is.
Often, it is not a good idea to allow the camera to set the exposure on the focus point. This statement will be explained well with the help of an examples given below.
Case I: The subject is in a dark area of the frame – this could result either in the over-exposure of the overall image, resulting in the image appearing too bright.
Case II: The subject is in a bright area of the frame, under-exposure of the overall picture, will cause it to appear too dark.
These cases can be avoided if your phone camera comes with a manual exposure tool. The new iPhones and Android devices come with this tool.
Here’s how the manual exposure tool works. Upon setting the subject to focus, you can adjust the exposure by tapping the screen, a small “sun” icon on the side of the focus square appears. Swiping up or down the screen will manually adjust the exposure slider.
Swiping up, the brightness would increase and swiping down, it gets darker. Once you are perfectly satisfied with the exposure or with the brightness of the image, you can withdraw your finger from the screen. This way, you have complete control over the appearance of the final image.
9. Always Look For Unique Angles
ave you observed how dogs view the objects around them? They do so at an unique angle, which gives them a better perspective on things. The best pointer on taking a photograph, from the best angles, is to shoot from a dog’s point of view.
This way you will be able to look at the various objects in a new light. You will be able to use the grid more efficiently, and more importantly, will be able to shoot great photographs even without the grid (with practice).
10. Don’t Just Keep It Digital
If you want to enjoy your photography, you should print your photographs and display them on your walls, send them as postcards to your friends or use them for various designs.
It is a wonderful feeling to see the photographs come alive in the physical form. Just viewing them on the smartphone or Instagram will not turn out to be much satisfactory. Also, when you have the photographs in the physical form, you will have a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses as a photographer. You will know exactly where you need to improve.
11. Avoid Using The Zoom
Zoom is a common feature available on all smart phones that allows to get a closer look at an object. One of the best tip I can share with you is shooting high-quality pictures with a smartphone by NOT using zoom. Whereas, while using DSLR cameras, you are expected to use the zoom as often as you can.
There is a reason for this. While most phone cameras have a zoom functionality, which is accessible by pinching on the screen or stretching, the fact is, this is a digital zoom and not an optical zoom.
What’s the difference? In the digital zoom, the image is cropped as you zoom in, which results in loss of image quality. The more you zoom in, the worse the image gets.
So, if you want to take a picture of an object, example: a bird perched on a distant tree, don’t use the zoom feature. Use your legs to get as close to the object as possible and use the phone camera normally, without the zoom feature. This way the quality of your shots will be far more superior.
You can always zoom in the object during the photo editing process by cropping the image to bring it closer to the viewer. This allows you to decide how much of the picture you want and how much to be removed. Also, cropping the image later, makes the object closer to the photographer.
12. Be Steady With The Camera – Especially In The Low Light
It is vital that your camera should be perfectly still when you are taking photographs in dim light or at night since, the phone camera makes use of a slow shutter speed in low light to allow as much light as possible to get through to the sensor. So , even a slight shake of the camera, causes the images to appear blurred.
Here’s what you should do. Hold the phone with both hands, or rest it on a solid surface (a rock or a compound wall) to make sure that it remains steady when you take a photograph.
A better option is to buy a tripod for the phone camera. There are tripods specially designed for the iPhone or for various Android phones.
You can use the timer button towards the left of the camera screen on your iPhone to set the timer to 3 to 5 seconds while taking a photograph from a smart phone perched atop the tripod.
This means clicking with your smartphone without handling it, thus, preventing any shaky moments and the camera remains perfectly still. Capture perfect photographs even in the dark!
13. Know The Rules Of Composition
As a photographer, you should have a good understanding of the basic rules of composition. The composition should be rightly balanced. For example, never put the horizon at the center of the scene. Since, this would confuse the audience in deciding the focal point of your image whether its the landscape or the sky.
A couple of rules of composition are– Leading lines and the Rule of Thirds. Be sure to apply the rules of composition when taking a photograph.
Use leading lines judiciously. This ensures that the viewer focuses on the main subject and observes the image more deeply. This technique makes use of converging lines or vertical and horizontal lines to focus exclusively on the subject and lead you deeper into the image. Given below is an example of how this works.
In the above image, the converging lines of the road lead your eyes more in-depth into the image so that you can finally focus on the sunset – on the image of the setting sun against the sky. This is a stunning photograph, which captures your attention the moment you look at it.
So, when taking a photo on your phone, you should have a good idea of where the leading lines in the frame are, and use them` to focus the viewer’s attention onto the intended subject.
The Rule of the Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is easy to understand. It should be used every time you take a photograph so as to make your images appear better balanced and more appealing.
This rule involves dividing the image into two horizontal and two vertical lines (imaginary lines) as shown below.
Position the various elements of the scene along these lines, or at the points of their intersection. So the subject should be positioned in line with one of the imaginary vertical lines. The horizon should be in line with one of the horizontal lines.
The whole idea is to arrive at an off-centre composition with the image, to get the perfect shot of your dreams. On the iPhone, you can make use of the Rule of Thirds by placing a grid on the screen. To activate the grid, go to Settings -> Photos & Camera and turn the Grid “on.”
Now, turning the grid on is a useful feature for a, who amateur photographers. With experience of smartphone photography, one should avoid this option and visualise the grid in your mind. This is how professionals and experts get their images right.
14. Do Away With The Flash
Observe the light from the camera flash on your phone. Is it too bright? Does it create any unnecessary shadows or highlights, messing up the photograph by adding too many reflections? Do they affect the colour of the subject? It would be better to do away with the flash in this case.
Just turn off the flash and use natural light as much as possible. Even if you need artificial lighting, use something that is less harsh compared to the flash. Use a diffuser for the phone’s flash, to dim the light slightly. This will certainly do wonders for the quality of photographers.
15. Try Different Styles Of Photography
One common mistake committed by amateur photographers is to shoot in the same style. Some even use the same colours for all photographs. Smart camera usage needs a smart attitude, as it reflects your originality and creativity. Try versatility as a photographer.
Different styles of photography you can experiment with are mentioned below:
- Aerial Photography
- Architectural photography
- Candid photography
- Documentary photography
- Fashion photography
- Food photography
- Landscape photography
- Night-long exposure photography
- Conceptual/ fine art photography
- Sport photography
- Street photography
- War photography
- Wildlife photography
- Close-up Photography
- Macro Photography
Don’t just restrict yourself to one style or genre. You should be just as comfortable with street photography and wildlife photography as with close-up photography and candid photography. Once you start shooting, don’t stop, try different things. Over time, you will be able to develop a style that is your very own signature style.
16. Don’t Be In A Rush
ake your time while photographing. Need not be in a hurry to click. Take a second or two before snapping. When you take photographs too fast, the picture quality suffers. Take a second longer to get the shot lined up; this will help you take clear and crisp shots. Take the extra second or two to see if you can improve the angle in any way or if you can do anything to make the lighting better. Think from the perspective of the viewer. You would be surprised at how just a second or two can improve the quality of your photographs.
Consider alternative points of view when taking photos.
A talented photographer always shoots from different perspectives. This means considering alternative points of view, when shooting. This is something easier to do with a phone camera than with a bigger digital camera.
Smartphone cameras give you the flexibility you seek and allow you to shoot from different levels and angles, even from the ground level. So this gives you a unique perspective of the scene, which you probably wouldn’t get from normal standing height.
When shooting from above, you should try to get a bird’s eye view. This technique can be effectively adopted for sports photography. Example, capturing from the stands, the shot of a player scoring a goal in a football match.
17. Get Rid Of Distractions In The Background
Nothing affects the quality of the photographs more than a cluttered background. It can be very distracting and takes the viewer’s attention away from the subject. So, if the background has too many clashing colours that appear to be distracting, you can use the option to eliminate all colours and convert the images into black and white. This will surely get rid of the distraction.
A better solution is to avoid any background that appears cluttered in any form or manner. You can do this by taking photographs from low angles or by using the sky as a backdrop. This way you can make the subject stand out.
Employ the rules of composition-the rule of the thirds and leading lines, when deciding on the right background for the picture.
18. Take Multiple Shots In Quick Succession
You should take your time to take the first shot to make sure that you have got the right focus, angle, lighting and composition. However, once you take a shot, don’t just stop at one. Take multiple shots. Even professional photographers do it.
The reason for this is that it is tough for a photographer to take a perfect picture with their very first shot. You should take several shots from different angles and distances. You should review the photos as you shoot them so that you know whether you are doing it right or if anything needs to be changed.
The great thing about shooting pictures with your smartphone is that you can very easily delete the pictures that don’t look good and there is absolutely no restriction on how many shots you can take. So, shoot as many as you can, don’t worry about some of the photographs not being good enough.
You may, for example, take 100 shots of the Grand Canyon, of which 95 may turn out to be useless. However, you will still get 5 high-quality photographs, good enough to be shared on Instagram.
19. Make Use Of The Panorma Mode
Say you want to take a shot of a vast landscape or cityscape from a height. You will have to use a different approach for this, to do full justice to the scenery. Most smartphone cameras come with a panorama mode. The panorama mode allows you to fit everything into a single frame.
To make use of the panorama mode, swipe to the left of the camera screen. Hold the camera upright, as though taking a close-up photograph and point the camera towards the left of the scene that you are trying to capture.
Tap the shutter button to start the capture. Pan the camera slowly and gradually to the right, without shaking it, as steady as you can, so as to capture the entire scene. As you reach the end of the scenery, tap the shutter button once again to complete the capture.
This mode utilises the inbuilt sensor of the iPhone or Android phone. When panning, keep the point of the arrow exactly on the yellow line and tilt the camera slightly when the arrow moves off the line. This will help you get a perfect image.
20. Be Careful When Using Filter
Photo filters are very popular these days, and many different apps allow you to apply various effects to the photograph, so as to give it an entirely different look. However, one mistake many amateur photographers make is to try to filter every picture. This can be irritating to the viewer.
Instead of using too many filters, keep it simple. Consider the mood that you want to set with your pictures. So, if you are taking a portrait photograph and want the picture to look a bit old-fashioned, you ought to apply a film grain filter. If you are taking shots of the leaves falling off the trees in autumn, then you will do well to apply a highly saturated filter. Use the right filter depending on the occasion.
21. Download Third-Party Camera Apps
The issue with many standard camera apps is that while they are useful for most purposes, they have a limited set of features. So, if you want more from your smartphone camera and take better photographs, you should consider switching to third-party apps.
Third-party apps come with more settings. They allow you to set the exposure and the focus correctly, take multiple shots quickly and make use of a variety of flash options, to name just a few.
There are many high-quality third-party apps available on both iTunes and Google Play such as Camera+, Camera 360, Camera ZOOM FX, Manual, and ProCamera. None of them cost much, but can do wonders for the quality of your photography.
22. Use The HDR Mode Only Sparingly
If you have an iPhone, you will be familiar with the HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode. This is a setting on the iPhone camera app that allows the camera to process the photographs a little differently from the usual, so that you can capture the bright and dark areas on the picture more efficiently. This allows you to take far more detailed shots.
However, not everyone likes HRD. While it does help a photographer get a more balanced exposure, it also adds many highlights and shadows to the images. When you overuse the HDR mode, the photos can come across as a bit odd, to say the least.
So don’t go crazy with the HDR mode and use it sparingly, such as when there are not many details in the background. You can keep the HRD Mode on Auto when you want high definition photographs; otherwise, it is recommended to keep it turned off on most occasions.
23. Activate The Volume Buttons For Stability When Taking Photographs
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus come with a built-in optical image stabilisation. However, if you want to take better and sharper images, then you should activate the physical volume buttons that simulate the working of a shutter, and not just rely on the software shutter button. This would help you get the feel of using a traditional camera, so that you will feel more confident about using the smartphone for camera work, prevent it from shaking and get much sharper images.
24. Understand How The Camera App Works
You should have a good idea of all the settings on the camera app and know how to tweak them to get perfect photographs. Adjust the ISO, aperture and shutter speed for awesome pics. Third-party camera apps also allow to make these settings. Most of these apps are relatively easy to use, but you should still make it a point to read the instructions that come with the app as carefully as possible.
Now, if you are not sure about how to adjust the settings, you can try using any of the free online camera simulators that are available, which allow you to try different settings.
You should have a good idea of all the settings on the camera app and know how to tweak them to get perfect photographs.
25. Select & Edit Only The Best Photographs For Editing
Editing can work wonders for your photos, but there is a limit to how far it can help transform them. You cannot, for example, transform a photograph that is nowhere close to the quality it should be. As discussed earlier, you should take multiple shots, as many shots as possible, but be very selective about the pictures that you want to edit. Ideally, the filters should be used only sparingly.
Professional photographers are splendid at using photo editing tools such as Adobe Photoshop Express, Fotor, and Lumina Creative Studio. Learn how to operate these photo editing applications, how to adjust the contrast, brightness, and the saturation.
You could also import the DNG files into Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom (which are the best photo editing applications out there) on your laptop for better editing.
These editing applications allow you to work with the photographs on a big screen on a laptop or desktop computer; so you can make very precise adjustments to the photos, which may not be possible with a smartphone app.
Who said that you need a professional camera to take awesome pictures? This guide surely paves a path to awaken the amateur photographer in you to use your iPhone or Android phone for awesome photographs. Hopefully, you will have found the Top 25 tips and tricks for taking high-quality photographs with your mobile phone camera useful.
While the opinion given herein is targeted at photographers that use phone cameras, they can work just as well with any digital camera. The important thing is to go out there and experiment. Photography is a wonderful hobby and a great way to make money online. So, start shooting with your phone camera, take as many photos as possible and have fun! Click! Click! Click! Way to go!