Tips to Take Great Photos on Your Smartphone

Those of us old enough to have experienced the highs and lows of taking photos with actual film may recall, with much wistful nostalgia, what it was like in the “old days”.

You never really knew what you’d managed to capture and often it was weeks or even months until a) the film was completed and ready to develop, and b) you reached a place where it was possible, practical and economical to develop it. Then there was the period of sharpened anticipation, when you collected the envelope of processed photos, which you opened at the first possible moment.

These days, the ubiquity of high quality camera phones means that much of that drama and pathos have been removed. And while you naturally lose some of the quality a genuine camera affords, with a little practice and a few helpful tips, you can wow your friends, family, and even yourself with your spontaneous shots.

1.  The classic rule of thirds still apply to composition. When lining up your shot, the points of interest should be placed on the gridlines and their intersections. Adjust your settings to show gridlines on your screen.

2.  Let negative space enhance your shot. All that open sky/water/field can be used to form a striking backdrop for your subject. Getting up high or down low can change the entire feel of your shot. Consider a different vantage point, use reflections and leading lines such as train tracks or staircases to draw the eye, but don’t do anything silly or put yourself (or others) in danger just for the sake of capturing an image.

3.  Light is still a major consideration in the capture of a great shot. Some smartphone cameras allow you to mess around with shutter speeds, but sometimes just turning your flash on or off will make all the difference. Smart use of natural light or from other light sources such as illuminated signs can bring interesting results. Don’t use your flash excessively, as often it just makes your subject appear strangely lit and/or hued, plus there’s a high potential for “red eyes”.

4.  Save your editing for later. Instagram is a fun tool, but for truly great photos, forget the fancy filters and instead download your images to a photo editing app. You’ll achieve much clearer, sharper results by simply taking the shot and cropping to your desired composition later.

5.  Try changing the focal point of your image. Many smartphones allow you to refocus simply by touching an object in the foreground or background.

6.  Keep the lens clean! Chances are you don’t treat your phone with quite the same TCL as an actual camera.

7.  And finally, print your photos. Social media is great for letting others know what you’re up to, but your photos will be liked, shared and then, forgotten, even by you. Put them in an album or create a photobook to be re-enjoyed again and again.