Smartphone Photography Tips

We take and post 1.8 billion photos every day, but anyone who takes pictures knows how difficult it can be to truly capture the vastness of a landscape, or to take a flawlessly lit selfie. Here’s our best tips to get that perfect shot from your smartphone’s camera. 

Last updated: 26th Jan 2021 at 11:07am

Have a good smartphone camera

The first thing you’ll need to take a good photo is, unsurprisingly, a good smartphone camera. 

Some of the most powerful-performing cameras come from the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei, and Samsung, who often surpass the more common 12MP cameras with 108MP and 50MP lenses. AI technology has also been built into some devices to automatically enhance the appearance of photos, improving the clarity, contrast, and brightness. 

Our top recommendations for a good camera smartphone:

  • Apple: iPhone 11 and 12 
  • Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
  • Huawei: Huawei P4 Pro
  • Google: Google Pixel 4XL
  • OnePlus: OnePlus 8 Pro

What to look out for when taking photos

To take a photo, you simply aim and snap. But to take a good photo, there’s a few more things you should consider.

Composition and balance

One of the more technical elements that can boost the professionalism of your photo is by monitoring the composition (that is, the way in which things are assembled). If you go into your phone’s camera settings and turn on the grid lines feature, you’ll see two vertical and two horizontal lines dividing your screen into nine equal rectangles. 

The rule of thirds says that the most important elements in your photo should be positioned along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Experimenting with composition will add balance to your photo and make it more visually unique. 

Next time you take a photo, try placing your main element off-centre and see how this shifts the overall composition of your image. 

Focus and depth

Photos being taken on a smartphone can sometimes come out fuzzy or skewed. Many phones now come with ‘Portrait Mode’, among other features, which aims to combat the flatness by adding more depth to images. This works by focusing on the main element and softly blurring the background. This draws attention to your subject, while also adding an atmospheric quality with the surrounding environment. 

If your phone doesn’t have a ‘Portrait Mode’, you can try including objects in the foreground, background, and middle ground while shooting to alter the depth manually and create layers.

Experiment with the other modes on your smartphone’s camera to see what effects they can bring. 

Lighting

Smartphones will naturally try to capture as much light as possible, and in low light this can result in blurry pictures. In darkness, you can experiment with lamp lights to add shadows and illuminate areas of your photo. Try to avoid using your phone’s flash, as this can make images look flatter and gloomier.

On the other hand, if it’s daytime, too much light can hinder a photo too and alter the brightness in a negative way. To combat lighting issues, choose your environment carefully and bring along lighting props if necessary. You can, however, use light to your advantage if you’re looking to create a halo effect with the sun’s reflected glare, or lens flare in the golden hour to create interesting blurs. 

Different viewpoints

Before taking a photo, think about the perception of it and what sort of image you want to create. Instead of shooting at eye level, experiment crouching down at ground level or standing on something taller to get a higher viewpoint. 

You could also play around with the zoom on your smartphone’s camera to capture extreme close-ups, things at a distance, or off to the side. These different angles can add unique dimensions to your pictures and make them seem more professional than a standard headshot. 

Play with the lens

A handy tip to instantly make photos more unique is by playing around with the visuals. Obscuring your lens, with a light, cloak, piece of paper, or pattern, can have an interesting effect on the overall image you capture. For example, hiding the lens in a wispy, translucent curtain while having someone stand on the other side can create an ethereal look. 

You don’t just need to point your camera and click. You can interfere using other objects around you to disrupt the picture in unique ways. 

Use props and accessories

Using props isn’t cheating. In some cases, the addition of props can enhance your image. 

Use a tripod (a three-legged stand) to have more control over the photos you take, such as stability, holding more difficult angles, and reaching higher or lower than your body is comfortable with. 

A ring light could also come in handy for areas of low lighting to illuminate or add a glow to pictures that can’t be achieved with a flashlight. 

You could also purchase a camera lens that can clip onto your smartphone to create different visual effects, like tunnel vision. 

Edit

Take advantage of the multitude of editing software available online to alter your photos. Editing can completely transform your photos from dull to spectacular, by adding filters, altering colours and contrast, changing brightness, and more. If you don’t capture that picture-perfect shot, you can create it yourself using software like Photoshop. 

You can also erase imperfections or remove parts of the photo that weren’t meant to be there. Though, be wary of the risk of promoting ‘perfection’ online. Sometimes the most realistic photos have the largest impact. 

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