One of the best things about phones nowadays is their incredible camera quality. Whether you’re a young traveler or a mother of three, chances are the last few pictures you took were done with your phone. I can still remember the first digital cameras, and the fact that we now have this level of quality in our pockets is almost unbelievable. However, simply owning a phone with an amazing camera doesn’t make you an amazing photographer. Our phones might be able to do a lot, but they can’t take a great picture on their own. So here are my top tips for taking better pictures with your iPhone or Android.
1. Don’t rely on autofocus
A phone’s camera is designed to automatically focus on a subject in the foreground, but you won’t always have one of those. Taking pictures of scenery or close-up shots need different focus points, as do moving subjects. Tapping your phone’s screen allows you to manually refocus the camera lens, but make sure you do this just before taking the photo. Moving subjects can blur quickly, so be ready!
2. Try not to zoom in
Some phones pride themselves on their zoom capabilities, but this isn’t something to shout about. Using zoom lowers the image quality, so you’re basically wasting the amazing camera you’ve got available. Simply try to get closer to your subject. However, if this isn’t possible, you can always take a picture with no zoom and then crop and edit at a later date. The image will be of noticeably better quality than if you had zoomed in.
3. Flash isn’t really your friend
Although phone camera technology has advanced massively, flash technology still seems to be stuck in the past. Our phones use several LEDs for their flash, and these produce a very cold, harsh light. Subjects tend to look much better under soft, warm light, so try to use the environment instead. Luckily, phone cameras are becoming much better at capturing low-light photography, such as the iPhone 11 Pro Night Mode. In the meantime, you can always use a photo editing tool to brighten the image at a later date.
4. Focus on one subject (but not too much)
If you look at the work of various professional photographers, their images usually focus on one particular subject (this can vary if the photographer is taking a landscape or nature scene). This helps to draw the eyes of the viewer to that subject, giving the shot a purpose and story. Additionally, try filling ½ or ⅔ of the shot with negative space, such as a brick wall or grassy field, to bring even more emphasis to the subject.
5. Play with your camera’s exposure settings
While tapping the screen focuses the lens, which is very useful, it also automatically sets the exposure setting. You’ll have better luck experimenting with your camera’s exposure settings, which refers to how much light the lens allows in. To do this on both Android and iPhone, simply tap to focus on a specific point. Then tap the sun/moon icon that appears when you set the focus and adjust the exposure slider.
6. Turn on your camera’s gridlines
While it may seem annoying at first when taking the shot, turning on your phone’s gridlines can be a great way to frame your photo like a professional. After turning this setting on (which can be found in Settings, Photos & Camera, Grid for iPhone users), you’ll notice a 9-square grid overlaying your phone’s camera screen. Phone camera gridlines follow a photography composition principle called the Rule of Thirds, which states that photos should be broken into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. This will help you keep your photo more balanced and easier to visually digest.
Taking pictures with your phone can be a quick and convenient way to capture priceless memories. However, the various features offered by modern phones make it very easy to produce near-professional level content with the right tricks. If you’ve been trying to take better pictures with your phone, then hopefully some of my tips will help. Much like photography with a normal camera, it’s important for you to practice the act of taking a good picture, as the camera can only do so much. At least with practicing with a phone camera, you won’t have to spend money on purchasing and developing film!