5 smartphone photography tips to up your Instagram game

When was the last time you used your phone to take a picture? If you’re anything like us, it can’t have been longer than 24 hours - snapping photos on our handsets is so easy, we’ve almost forgotten what a real camera looks like...

But anyone who takes photos on their phone knows how difficult it can be to make these photos look good. Low light environments, low pixel quality, shaky hands (and more!) often get in the way and ruin your selfies or your holiday snaps.

Fear not - we’ve got some tips to make sure your photos always come out looking crisp and professional. It’s time to up your Instagram game!

1. Composition and balance

One of the easiest ways to make your photos look a little more professional is by paying attention to the composition. Start by going into your camera settings and turning on the grid lines feature - you’ll now have two vertical and two horizontal lines dividing your screen into 9 equal rectangles.

The rule of thirds says that the most important elements in your photo (a tree or a beautiful building, for example) should be positioned along the lines on your screen, or at the points where they intersect. Often, this means having your subject slightly off-centre - but don’t worry! Playing with proportions and composition will add balance to your photo and make it more interesting.

2. Focus and depth

Photos taken on a smartphone often look a little flat, or even blurry - particularly when shooting portraits. However, many handsets now come with a ‘Portrait Mode’, the aim of which is to combat this flatness by adding more depth of focus. All you need to do is point at your subject, and the phone will automatically focus on them, leaving the background softly unfocused in order to make your subject really pop out.

If your phone doesn’t have Portrait Mode, don’t panic! There are ways you can add depth to your photo without it - try including objects in the foreground, background, and middle ground of your picture. This will create “layers” for the eye to travel through and add more depth and interest to your photos.

3. Light, high and low

Shooting in low light can be challenging. Your smartphone will automatically spend more time trying to get as much light as possible into the lens (more exposure time), which often results in blurry photos. One simple way to keep your images crisp is to keep your phone very, very still - whether you have to prop it with a mug or just hold your breath while you tap to take the shot.

One mistake many people make when taking photos in low light is relying on the flash. Try to avoid using your phone’s flash whenever possible! It makes images look flatter, gloomier, and makes the colours dark and muddy. Instead, use lighting from another source - if there is one.

4. Try a different viewpoint

Before taking a photo, think about the viewpoint - where will you be shooting from? Start mixing things up! Instead of shooting at eye level, try crouching down at ground level or getting up onto a bench to get a different viewpoint. You could also experiment with close-ups, side views, and anything else that comes to mind.

Pro tip: taking pictures from above is a sure way of making food photos more interesting - and more appetising. So next time you’re having brunch with friends, don’t be afraid to stand and shoot your fry-up from high up for a real #foodporn moment.

5. Editing isn’t cheating

You don’t need to be a pro at Photoshop to edit your pictures - most smartphones and/or photo apps offer great editing features that will take your photos to the next level. Try cropping your photos to get rid of unnecessary elements and focus on your subject, or to adjust the composition.

You can also play around with the lighting and shadows, contrast, colours and more - it’s all up to you! Filters are also a great way to correct any little imperfections that might be in your picture - without going overboard with the Photoshop.

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