A common question I get asked is “how to take quality photos with my phone“. It doesn’t matter if you have an iPhone, Droid or Lumia, you have a camera and you take it everywhere you go.
Now some people still don’t believe that a camera on a phone is a real camera. However a good photo is a good photo, regardless of the device that you use.
By understanding what the strengths and weaknesses of your phones camera and following these 7 tips you will be on your way to taking high quality photos. Photos that you will be proud to share with your friends and family 🙂
Just remember it is not as simple as pointing and shooting at your subject. These days it is not that difficult to take high quality photos and edit them on all on the phone.
How to take Quality Photos with your Phone
1) Know your camera
Like any camera you have to get used to its characteristics. Take photos, try with different angles, lighting, and settings. Don’t just use the auto mode in the camera app.
Get to understand what you can control and use your control over the focus, exposure, white balance and ISO settings to improve the overall quality of your photos.
2) Get close to your subject
Its easy to stand back and just take pictures of your subject at a distance, but if you want a photo which pops you have to get in close to your subject. If you are too far away from your subject, you end up with a small unrecognisable figure lost in a meaningless background.
Get up close to your subject and fill the screen, yes it will mean that you have to move closer but it will give you a much better photo. DON’T think about using the digital zoom, it will only reduce the image quality.
3) Focus on a single subject
You will find that often the best photos will only have a single subject. This way you remove the distractions from the photo and let the viewers eye focus on the single interesting subject.
Take you time, tap the screen to ensure that the camera is focusing on the subject. A Pro tip is to ensure that the subject does not fill the whole screen, leave some space so that the subject stands out.
4) Rule of thirds
Just because you are using a phone camera doesn’t mean that you can forget about the “Rule of Thirds”. Often your natural inclination will be to put the subject into the centre of the photo, overcome this desire and use the “Rule of Thirds” it will make a significant difference to you photo.
The key to taking high quality photos is how you compose your photo. The “Rule of Thirds” is the easiest technique to employ with your phone camera. Most phones will have a setting where you can get the “Rule of Thirds” grid up on your screen making it easy to employ.
5) Take photos with people
Often what looks appealing to the naked eye, doesn’t translate well into a photo off your phone. Be it a sunset over a beach or a beautiful forrest, put some people into the shot.
This will give the photo a sense of place and scale. Making the photo’s more memorable and personal at the same time.
6) Clean the lens
This is an easy one to overlook. With a normal camera we have a lens cap or cover which protects the lens when we are not using the camera. With a phone camera, the lens is exposed to the environment all the time.
Now the manufacturers have done an amazing job at making the lens scratch resistant, but this doesn’t stop dirt and smudges getting on the lens. Before you start taking photos, give the lens a quick wipe with a cleaning cloth. It could make a world of difference in the quality of the final photo.
7) Remember the light
The rules around lighting when using a phone camera are the same as if you are using a normal camera. You don’t want the light directly behind your subject unless you are looking to capture the subjects silhouette.
Wherever possible use natural lighting, it will make the environs look more welcoming, food more appetising and facial expressions more cheerful. Having the light come from the side of the subject will also provide more texture and depth to the photo.
Do you take a lot of photos with your phone? Have you used any of these tips or do you have a tip of your own? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.
Thanks for some great tips on using my phone while I travel. Your point on getting close to your object actually struck a chord with me because often times you are not able to get close to certain things. Digital zoom also just doesn’t work very well in general. Given that, I wanted to ask if you have tried any of the zoom lens attachments you can put on your phone, like this thing for example:
I was curious on your thoughts on it and if you’d tried one out ever.
Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. Yes, it is an issue at those times when you can’t actually get in close, but way too often the problem is that people don’t think about moving in a bit closer.
I haven’t personally used a zoom lens which attaches to your phone. I have a few friends who do use them, and are happy with the results they get. I will look at doing a review on them in the near future.
Great post! Yes I tend to forget about lighting and the rule of thirds. This is a great reminder. I use my phone for lots of video’s too and just recently my son pointed out how you can adjust the light at night on your iphone through the screen.
Great tips and ideas. Thank you,
Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. Glad to hear you got some benefit out of the article.
I have a night time photography article in the works, but I will have a look at doing one aimed specifically at phones.
Hi, in my opinion you should put “remember the light” in number 2 after “know your camera” because that is the most important factor, consider that photography means take graphs / picture by using light / photo ray.
Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. Yes you are perfectly correct about the importance of light, without which we would not get a picture. When I put the tips together I did not put them in any particular order or importance.
All the tips help make a great photo.
Like the article. I don’t have an iPhone but I guess those helpful hints would apply to any phone with a camera right?
It is amazing the quality of photos that we can get from phones these days.
Thank you for dropping by again and leaving a comment. Yes, these tips apply to any phone with a camera.
What the phone makers have been able to do with cameras is quiet amazing, and more often than not you get a better picture from your phone than you would with an entry level point n shoot camera.
I’d like to add another tip for great smartphone photography, if I may: use two hands and hold it like a camera! I see a lot of vertical photos that think that they’d be even better as horizontal shots. Holding the phone like a camera gives a lot more stability and sharper images.
Thank you for dropping by and leaving your tip. You have hit on a major point around composing the photo. I agree you see a lot of photos taken with a phone which are in portrait which should have been shot in landscape. Similarly I have seen way to many shots taken on a standard camera in landscape which would have looked better in portrait.
I will look to do a post shortly on composing your photos.
I am a photographer and for the reasons you state above I take more photos on my camera than my SLR. The rule of thirds s excellent advice for now shutterbugs.
Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. Yes, I love my DSLR, but I rarely have it with me. I do have my phone with me at all times, it is why whenever I get asked what is in my camera bag I always include my phone as it is my most used camera.
Agree about the “Rule of Thirds” it was one of the first rules I learnt, and then more importantly was learning when I should break the rule 🙂
Great post, I was just looking for this info a few days ago.
I want to start using my phone camera more.
I looked up the rule of thirds but didn’t really understand it fully.
Do I just a pic of a third of what I’m pointing at?
Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. It is so convenient to use our phones as cameras, we generally have them with us all the time. Once you get comfortable using it, you will find that you will see opportunities all the time to take photos.
The “Rule of Thirds” is one of the main rules around how to compose a photo. Check out this post here the third point I expand a little more on the “Rule of Thirds”.
I will look at putting a post up shortly explaining the rule of thirds in detail.
These are great tips and as an avid traveler myself they are definitely useful and applicable. The “rule of thirds” is one I’m still trying to get my husband to understand, lol. He’s getting better, but as we are also hikers and come across many scenic venues I really give him no other choice 🙂 Thank you for these.
Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. Yes, some struggle with using the “rule of thirds”, but once they get it they get it.
Good luck with your hiking and finding more scenic views to photograph.