Take Your Smartphone Photos to the Next Level

Are you finding it challenging to get great pictures with your smartphone? Here are some valuable, quick, and easy tips that will have you taking beautiful photos with very little practice.

Turn “On” Gridlines –    This option superimposes a series of lines on your smartphone’s camera screen keeping in mind the “Rule of Thirds”, a well-known ‘rule’ of photographic composition.  The gridlines identify four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image.  The theory is if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, at the cross sections, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.  To switch the grid on… iPhone: Go to “Setting,” choose “Photo & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on. Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

Avoid Zooming In – It is better not to zoom in because it can make the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated.  Instead, try to get closer to your image or crop it later.  One of the biggest photography mistakes is not getting close enough to the subject.    It’s better to enhance the image later than compromise quality.  

Focus and Exposure – Smartphone cameras have come a long way with default settings, however you can easily up your game by manually adjusting focus and exposure of your shot. To activate the manual focus, tap on the screen on the point where you want the camera to focus, then hold and drag to adjust the exposure.

Negative Space – Negative space (also known as white space or open space) is the space in the image that is empty.  Examples of negative space include a large expanse of open sky, water, an empty field, or a large wall.  Negative space will anchor the photo and make your subject stand out more.  What is not in your photo is almost as important as what is in your photo. Also, too little white space can result in photos that appear cluttered and distracts the viewer. 

Pro Tip – To help your subject stand out even more, tap the screen of your smartphone to focus the camera on your subject — that’ll help to ensure that it’s focused and the lighting is optimized.

Food Photography – Follow these steps for magazine quality food pictures – source: Keri Henry

  • Always try to set the dish in or near a window with natural light
  • Never use a flash on food at night
  • Try to clean up unsightly splatters on the plate
  • If you’re photographing meat or brown foods, try to throw something green on top to add a little pop of color 
  • Portrait mode is awesome for food pics

Crème’ de la Crème Selfies –  Turn on the timer!  This nifty function is Golden!! It allows time to get your arm stretched out just right (don’t want to get a shot of your underarm when sleeveless), makes sure all your girls are in the shot and check that your smile is right.  Your device is in the front-facing camera, then click the timer option at the top of the screen on an iPhone. We like the 10-sec option.

Natural light vs Flash – Phone flash has improved over the years, but at the end of the day, the flash is still just an LED light.  When possible, try shooting in natural light sources, or if you’re shooting at night, use the Camera app’s exposure slider to boost light in the photo. Lighting is important and for the best shots, consider investing in a light ring or one of the various light accessories available.

Pro Tip – Take advantage of light from the sun, a window or lightbulb. The light should be behind you and shining on the subject of the photo. Try shooting different angles with your subject in the light. The light from a window hitting the side of someone’s face will give a very different portrait effect than if it was hitting the front of their face.

Perfectly-exposed Landscaping or Portrait shots – Turn on High Dynamic Range, better known as HDR. HDR blends the best parts of three separate exposures into a single photo. It allows you to create a well-lit photo with plenty of color and detail in both the shadows and the highlights; however, this setting can cause problems when you’re photographing moving subjects or scenes with lots of vibrant colors.

Minimize The Shake – The slightest shake can leave your photo blurry, especially in low light settings when exposure times have to be longer. When possible, use a wall, a countertop, your knee, even a friends shoulder to minimize camera shake. You can also pick up a small, inexpensive, tripod made specifically for smartphones.

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