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How to take better photos with your phone

I think it’s probably fair to say that I’m addicted to photography! I got my first camera 10 years ago, ya know before Instagram and camera phones. I had one of these point and click cameras. I didn’t know what I was doing but I know that I loved capturing the world around me.

When Instagram came along, cameras were in phones suddenly everyone could be a photographer!  And photography mixed with social media…it was a match made in heaven. I could suddenly share my passion for photography and my little world with the WORLD!

One recurring theme throughout the past ten years that I have seen with photography is that a lot of people think that you need the most expensive kit or phone to take photos. You really don’t what you have is fine! There is a great book by Chase Jarvis called “The best camera is the one with you”. Really great book.

You don’t need a big fancy camera or the newest phone to take great photos you just need to understand a bit about photography and how it applies to you. I am going to share six simple steps to

improving your own photography using your phone.

Yup that one in your hand!

It really couldn’t be easier!

Embrace Natural Light!

This one step is a game-changer for your photography. Try and make the most of any natural light that you have when shooting with your phone. I know that shooting indoors sucks but trust me you can make it work!

You’ll want to move closer to the biggest window in your house. Get as close to the natural light coming into that room. Make sure that you don’t have anything blocking the light as you don’t want strange shadows in your photo.

If you’re outdoors and it’s super sunny (hahaha) then move to the shaded and take advantage of the softer light there. If it is sunny (haha) then you want to where possible avoid the light being directly over the top of you, as it will cause shadows. The best time of day to shoot outside in is the hours after sunrise, or the hour before sunset during the summer. In the winter months, an hour either side of midday is a good rule of thumb!

Super tip:

Don’t forget that with your phone, you can touch the screen and then slide your finger up or down to adjust the brightness manually before you shoot. The best way to find the best spot inside or outside is to get out at different times of day, and in different environments and see how it works best for you.

Take Lots Of Photos!

The beauty of photography now is that you can take a load of photos! When you first start you will be easily taking 40/50 photos to get that one great one, trust me I have been there and have the archive to prove it. It takes many shots to find the perfect one.

As time goes on, and you get more experienced and you will need to take fewer photos. You will know the time of day to take the photo, where in your house is the best spot and what setting on your phone camera you need to use. Of course, when you’re shooting try new things, experiment with moving around, get down low for a different angle, get up high, move your subject matter, change the background. These can all change your photos!

Super tip:

If you know where in your house you have the best light and a clear space put together a props box with backgrounds and items that you think to compliment your photo.

Explore Composition!

When shooting on your phone, it’s a great idea to turn on the grid on to help with your composition. As you take a photo consider the composition, move your phone around so you create negative space,  this is where you leave blank space around the subject matter, or move your subject matter so that it’s in the center, then off center, then in the bottom third of the photo.

Play around, and because you’ve taken lots of photos, you’ll be able to see among all your photos what style you like best. Flat lay photography is a big thing in the Instagram world and can easily look really cluttered if you put too much in a frame.

Super tip:

Using the grid on your phone, you can use the lines to place your subject matter. Anywhere the lines cross is considered a great place to put whatever you want to be the focus of your photo. Try taking some photos at each of these points on the grid.

Focus!

There is nothing more off-putting then scrolling across a blurry photo or the wrong thing being in focus. The focus is one of the most important parts of taking a photo because while most other problems can be fixed with editing, there’s nothing you can do for an out of focus photo.

When taking a photo on your phone, you want your photo to be crisp, clean and clear. The best thing about your phone is that you can adjust the focus by tapping on the screen! A box will appear, and that will be what is most in focus in your photo.

So make sure that box is where you want the focus to be.

Super tip:

With some phones you can use the portrait feature to create a nice depth of field – with a little blur behind your subject matter, this is great if you are taking photos of someone or yourself!.

Editing!

This part of photography can be so much fun. Most of the time it’s difficult to turn a bad photo into a good one, you know if it’s not in focus ain’t no fixing that, but with a bit of editing it’s possible to turn a good photo into a great one.

With editing, you want to enhance your photo to make it as awesome as it can possibly be. When editing try playing around with brightness, contrast, saturation, orientation – you know if its a little wonky, warmth – if the photo is too blue or too orange, and sharpness.

If I’m taking photos of a horizon or a photo that has lines in it, It is always best to straighten it so the horizon is straight. It will make such a difference to your photos and take it from good to great! It’s also great to consider cropping the photo too if you have a little bit too much negative space the focus of your photo can look a bit lost.

Super tip:

Some really great photography Apps to try are: Lightroom, Little Moments, A Color Story, VSCO, TouchReTouch, and SnapSeed – this is my personal fave!

Shoot Every Day!

As with anything you do, the more you practice the better you get. Taking photos every day is something I strongly encourage. It increases your skills, but as it’s a fun, creative exercise to do especially if you are a journalier because you will see your improvements month after month! It will also make you look at the world differently.

You start to see little moments to capture and document!

Super tip:

If you haven’t already joined in on a Photo A Day Challenge and give them a try. They’re easy to do, a great way to encourage you to shoot every day.

These are just a few of the things that I have learned over the year and I hope that these tips will help you improve your photography and that you give them a go! But I’m not done I have a few more bonus tips for you!

Extra Phone Tips!

  • Hold the camera still. To avoid blurry photos, hold your phone with two hands to get the best photo possible.
  • Wipe the lens. Our phones get a lot of abuse, thrown into handbags, played with by the grubby hands of our kids. A quick wipe of the lens can get rid of marks and blur, and mean a crisper, cleaner photo.
  • Avoid zooming. Move closer to your subject matter where possible.
  • Don’t use the flash. Use natural light, or if you’re shooting at night, try and use any light sources you can find.

Now you are armed with a few simple tips that will help you with your photography and hopefully up your Instagram game!

Happy photo taking!

Sam

2 thoughts on “How to take better photos with your phone

  1. Some excellent tips here Sam and a really good read. I like using my DSLR but sometimes it’s way easier and quicker to use my Smartphone, especially if you can get close to the subject.

  2. Fab post with some fantastic tips. I have always loved photograph and am gutted that my DSLR has died. But the modern smartphone really does do an excellent job.
    Mobile and Instagram is definatly my favourite combo and I am another snapped fan.

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