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How to Take Great Photos on Your Phone

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

Almost everyone has a smart phone, but not everyone knows how to use it to take great photos. I have twelve tips for taking better photos on your phone that will help you step up your Instagram game, or just help you take better photos of your friends and family.


An often skipped step that helps a lot. When taking photos on your phone, it’s important to remember that your phone is often knocking about in your pocket or bag. You could have debris or even fingerprints on your camera lens and it can be hard to tell that your lens is dirty just looking through your phone screen. Give your lens a quick wipe with a microfibre cloth and you are good to go.


Check your camera settings, you may have put the photo quality down to save room on your phone, but if you want to take a great photo you will need the highest quality possible. This is particularly important if you think you may want to print these photos later on. If they’re just going on facebook you can probably skip this step.


Light is one of the most important parts of photography. Good lighting can make or break your photograph. Natural light is often the best light to use, so opt for photos taken outside or close to a window if you are inside.


Unfortunately natural light can also be your worst enemy when taking photos outside. An overcast day provides the best light possible but if you have to shoot on a very sunny day, try to find shoot your subject in shade to reduce the contrast of light. This will also reduce squinting from your subject.


Vertical video syndrome doesn’t just effect video, but photo too. V.V.S. refers to when someone shoots their subject with their phone held vertical or portrait. This is fine for Snapchat but should be avoided on every other platform. Turn that phone around so it’s horizontal and your composition will be much nicer (unless you are actually taking a portrait, then you can keep it vertical).


When taking a photo on a phone it is extremely easy to knock the phone while pressing the shutter, which results in blurry photos. Find something you can lean your camera hand on to keep it steady, something like a table or fencepost. Failing that you can brace your elbow against your body for extra stability. If you’re still struggling to keep the photos clear, you can try using the volume button which doubles as a shutter in camera mode.


Composition is important in photography, luckily there is a trick to helping draw the eye where you want it to go. You can use the rule of thirds as basis for your photography composition. You can go into your camera settings and turn on the grid lines to help you while you take your picture, try to line up your subject with the guidelines or where they meet, and the horizon with either the top or bottom line for optimal composition.


To ensure the subject of your photo remains the subject of your photo you need to choose an appropriate background. You could pick something of a contrasting colour, or you could blur the background or make it black and white and keep your subject in colour. You don’t need to have photography backdrops, you could find some interesting street art or use a sheet. Get creative and play around with textures and colours.


Digital zoom is your enemy. When zooming in your camera app you are doing the same thing as when you crop the picture after it’s taken. The quality will be bad. DON’T DO IT.


Avoid using flash. It’s tempting to use flash when you’re in a low light situation because it's easy and it's built in and everyone uses it all the time. But unless you want your subject to look albino with pale skin and red eyes, then you should reconsider the location you’re shooting in. Find somewhere with more light or even get someone to use the flashlight on their phone to help fill the darkness from beside the camera. Just don’t use the flash unless you absolutely have to.


Don’t be afraid to edit! It’s not cheating. You can edit the photos you take on your phone without a photo editing app, just go into your settings and start playing with brightness and contrast. Iphone Photography School has a list of the best photo edit apps available on Iphone and Fossbytes has a list of the best on android

12Practice makes perfect – photography is a skill that requires practice, but when you have everything you need in your phone, there’s no excuse! Fat Mum Slim has a fantastic daily challenge with prompts that can help you take more photos there’s also an app for it which will send you daily reminders. I do this challenge whenever if feel like I need more practice at taking photos, I find it really motivates me to get out every day and get a bit artistic.


Media Melt is a Video Production Company based in Dunedin, New Zealand. If you have any enquires, feel free to contact us here


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