How To Take Better Photos on Your Smartphone

How To Take Better Photos on Your Smartphone

Smartphone cameras are incredibly sophisticated now. They allow us to have so much technology at our finger tips. And bonus, you don’t have to lug a heavy camera around.

But it’s one thing to have the technology in our pocket to create great photos, but HOW do we create scroll stopping images?

Here’s some simple tips to help you:

Are you holding the camera straight?

This sounds insanely obvious but it can make a big difference to how pleasing to the eye a photo is.  One simple tip is to find a straight line in the photo you’re taking to align your camera frame with.

This could be a door frame, a horizon, a table, a lamppost – whatever works.

If you have your grid turned on (it’s in your camera settings) it can also help you work out if you’re taking the photo straight.

View into a kitchen with light streaming in.
Straighten your smartphone camera by aligning it with a straight line in the frame

Light

Light is so important to photography.  If at all possible, take your smartphone camera outside to take as many photos as you can.  If you can’t – take your photos next to a window and turn off any normal lights in the house (artificial lights create an unpleasant orangey look to photos).

Notice natural light and use it to your advantage

  • If there are shadows falling in a pretty way photograph them.
  • If a stream of light is falling on a person or an object in an interesting way snap it (or make the person stand in the stream of light).
  • Are there reflections in a puddle or in a window? Take some photos and see how they turn out.
  • If you’re taking a photo of a friend – notice where the light is and get them to stand in different positions in relation to the light to create different effects. If they stand directly in front of the light it will be a very bright clear photo, if the light is coming from the side it will be softer and more flattering, if the light is coming from behind it will create a silhouette.
Magazine, bowl and cup of tea.
I snapped the pretty shadows that fell on the book and table
Person standing in a stream of light.
I asked this guy to stand in the eery stream of light I noticed

Leading Lines

When we look at a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place these leading lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey “through” the scene.

Photograph to illustrate the use of the 'leading line'.
I used this brick wall as a leading line

Rules of Thirds

Imagine that your image is divided into nine equal segments by two vertical and two horizontal lines. The rule of thirds says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.

Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo.

To superimpose this grid on your smartphone camera just turn it on in your camera settings.

Photograph to illustrate the rule of thirds.
Rule of thirds

Unusual Angles

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of only ever showing the world you see from your own perspective. But often the most impactful images are those that take us to another angle to show us something familiar in a way we haven’t seen.

Try from taking smartphone phones from above, or from below. Alternatively crouch down and take a photo from low down.  Or experiment with tilting your camera at different angles until you hit on something interesting.

Photograph taken from above.
I got my boyfriend to stand on a chair to take this photo!

Make Your Subject Feel Comfortable

If you’re taking a photo of somebody one of the most important things you can do is make that person feel super comfortable.  Your objective is to make them forget their photo is being taken.  Ask them questions, make them laugh, gossip, chat and while you’re at it, just take a shed load of photos because one of them will be a good ‘un!

Photograph to illustrate the benefit of looking natural.
I was asking Jo (photographed) lots of questions and making her laugh so I could capture her looking natural

Editing

It’s amazing what a difference you can make to a photo with a bit of editing.  Either in your smartphone editing feature or with free apps such as VSCO or Snapseed.  For example you can brighten and clarify a dull photo and literally bring it to life.  Add a filter as well and you’re laughing. Also if your photo is a bit wonky, use a straightening tool to sort it out. And if your photo is looking a bit messy and chaotic, cropping it to give the photo a clearer focus and feel can make a big difference.

Do go and try these tips, but there are loads of other great articles online if you want to learn more.  Happy snapping!

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Feature photo credit: Jill Jennings