Many people travel and go about their regular day-to-day lives with a small and easy-to-use camera right in their pocket or bag: a smartphone. Whilst it may be tempting to think that you need a bulky and heavy pro-style camera with multiple lenses to get the best photographs, there are plenty of ways that you can use your smartphone to achieve the same result. But it isn’t as simple as just pointing and clicking! Here are ten handy tips to help you take great photos using your smartphone:

Don’t be Tempted to Zoom

The zoom feature on any camera can be difficult to ignore; you might feel that if only you were a bit closer to your subject your photo would be that much more awesome. Unfortunately, zooming, especially on smartphones, can take the edge away from your image, making it ultimately more blurred and pixelated.

Move as close as you can to what you are trying to capture and forget about the zoom function. You can crop your images afterwards to make the subject more prominent, which gives a better overall result.

Use External Lenses

Did you know that you can actually buy a range of lenses to use with your smartphones? Whether you want a wide-angled lens, a telephoto lens, or a fisheye lens, there are several excellent products that will work with various smartphones. Simply attach the lens over the regular camera lens and take your picture as normal. Small and easy to carry around with you, external lenses really can add a whole new level to your smartphone photography.

Keep Your Lenses Clean

This applies to the regular phone lens as well as any external lenses that you may choose to use; dirty lenses affect the image quality. Keep your lenses clean!

Avoid Using the Flash

Try and use natural lighting as much as possible. Whilst this applies to many types of camera, it is especially important with smartphones; it’s rare to find a smartphone photo taken using the flash that actually looks good! Use as much natural or external light as you can.

In a dimly-lit restaurant, for example, choose a table next to the window if you want to take photos of your food. Alternatively, sit underneath an overhead light if a window seat isn’t available. To illuminate the finer details of something small, you could consider shining the light from a torch onto the area to give it more external light.

If you’re in a club and you want a great picture of your friends, why not have everyone stand next to bright disco lights or wait for a strobe light to pass your way? Be creative! (Just don’t be tempted to head into the bathrooms, because, well, the background is important too!)

Having taken your photos, use exposure tools to try and brighten your images if they are still too dark.

Use a Tripod

A steady camera is essential for great shots of landscapes, architecture, and pretty much anything! Keeping your smartphone stable can, at times, be a bit tricky. Fortunately, there are several smartphone stands and tripods available on the market that make taking great photos that much easier.

Use Grid Lines to Get a Straight Image

An easy way to get better pictures is to simply turn on the grid lines every time you want to take a picture. The on-screen lines help you to ensure that the image is level and balanced (or at the angle you want), that the main subject is either centred or in the position that you want, and in general, the gridlines let you appreciate the scene more before clicking.

Think Outside of the Box

A major benefit of having a smaller and lighter camera, like a smartphone, is that you can get it into smaller spaces, hold it in some pretty funky positions, and, overall, be a lot more creative with your angles and perspectives. Don’t be afraid of trying something different – you may surprise yourself with some really unique and unusual shots.

Use Various Camera Apps

There are myriad apps available, both free and paid, related to your phone’s camera. They all have one goal in common: to help you to take the best pictures possible. Ranging from those that work when you click to take the photo, giving you more control with features like shooting in bursts, to those that let you edit your images afterwards, allowing you to do things like adjust the exposure, touch up images to remove blemishes etc, alter the colours and brightness levels, use colour blocking, add filters, and more. A word of caution, however, when it comes to filters: editing your pictures is invariably better than using the same filters that everyone else seems to be using!

Remember the Photographic Rules

Just because you are taking pictures with your smartphone doesn’t mean that you can just dismiss all the common advice for general photography! Anyone can point and click any camera, it doesn’t mean that the results will be outstanding! Get that wow factor with your images by remembering the basics:

  • Try and focus on one main subject per photo. Tap the screen of your phone to make sure that the desired subject is focused correctly.
  • Add depth to photographs by using leading lines – natural lines or contours that draw the viewer’s gaze to a particular element.
  • Highlight the subject by having lots of negative space, such as the sky, the sea, or rolling fields, around it.
  • Use symmetry to your advantage.
  • Capture the small details.
  • Be abstract.
  • Make every shot count.

Carry Your Phone!

Whatever camera you’re using, having it with you and using it is the most essential thing you can do; knowing how to take great photos on your smartphone is meaningless if you forget your phone or don’t take it out of your pocket.

Finally, get to know your camera, and all of its functions. Experiment and play around with different features as you get to know what works best. Create a working relationship with your smartphone and treat it as you would another camera or piece of professional equipment.

Have fun with your smartphone photography!