You don’t need a super expensive (and complicated) SLR camera these days to take absolutely amazing photos. The level of camera technology built into your iPhone, along with a handful of amazing apps that help you channel your creative side, have become so advanced that even the most amateur of photographers can now make their camera roll look like it’s been compiled by a professional.
Social media has also made it easier to capture special moments and share them in real-time, so why not give those memories the love they deserve by considering these easy hacks to take amazing photos with your smartphone.
1. Know your phone
Get used to your phone. If there’s a way to add a shortcut that lets you fire up the camera straight away, it’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss those quick photos that often pass you by.
If you own an iPhone you can set your home button to act as a shortcut to launch the camera.
2. Consider lighting carefully
Lighting in photography is incredibly important, especially with your smartphone, which aren’t equipped with large apertures like SLR cameras. Bad lighting can kill the best of pictures, even with a fancy SLR, so make sure the subject of your photo is well lit.
If you’re indoors, keep the light to your back – light behind the subject will badly darken the image. And regardless of how good your lighting is, also make sure you hold your phone steady. Some camera apps also aim to help counteract the effect of shaking. iPhone users can use Pro Camera, which costs $2.99 from the App Store and includes an Anti-Shake Image Stabilizer. Android users can opt for the popular app Camera 360 which features a similar stabilizer.
3. Avoid digital zoom
This is a deceiving feature that should be avoided wherever possible. All it does is enlarge the image instead of zoom in, immediately pixelating the image. This won’t produce the highest quality of images. Whenever possible, simply move closer to your subject.
4. Consider composition
Think about your photo before you take it. Consider the rule of thirds. The iPhone camera app, and a number of Android models, will place visible grid lines on your screen to make it easy to visualize the photo before you take it. Place main subjects along grid lines to strengthen composition.
Take the rule of thirds into consideration. Many camera apps on the iPhone, and on various android handsets, will place visible grid lines on your screen making it easy to visualize the image with the rule of thirds in mind. Placing the main subjects directly along grid lines strengthens composition.
5. Find the perfect background
Unfortunately, camera phone’s aren’t able to isolate the subject from the background. There’s a couple of ways to deal with this. The first one is to go with less clutter. Make sure your subject is in front of you, with a simple background. The second way is to simply fill the image with your subject.
This consideration is incredibly important when it comes to portraits. But there are also times that you can throw this rule right out the window, such as in street photography where a busy scene can fill up the screen and make for a pretty amazing image.
6. Take advantage of apps
Sometimes (and only sometimes), applying a cool filter to a picture can make it better. Instagram has made this trend ever more popular, but filters aren’t always necessary.
Yet, the Apple and Android app stores are filled with programs that can easily up your photography ante. Check these out and play around with them and you can really take your smartphone photos to the next level: Snapseed, Hipstamatic and VSCO.
7. Avoid the obvious shot
We’ve seen them all (way too many times, and we’re all guilty): cloudy skies and telephone poles, your own shoes, and your cup of coffee. There’s only so many ways you can frame these “moments” in time. Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new. If you really want to photography another morning’s cup of coffee, tilt your phone. Zoom in a bit. Zoom out. Mix it up. There’s nothing wrong with change.
8. Keep your lens clean
Finger smudges aren’t artsy. They never have been, and (probably) never will be.
For those who wear glasses, use a microfibre lens polishing cloth for the best results. If you don’t already have one you can grab one from Amazon for a couple bucks. But whatever you do, don’t use tissues! They’re fibrous and could potentially scratch your screen.