Tuesday Tip: Best Mobile Phone Photography Tricks

How to take good pictures with a phone

People are taking more photos than ever—and they’re using their phones to take them. In fact, 85% of digital photos are the result of mobile phone photography (up from 50% in 2011). This is because, as professional photographer Chase Jarvis said, “the best camera is the one that’s with you.”

To take the best photos with your phone, try these mobile phone photography tips.

Mobile Phone Photography Tips

Clean your lens

OK, this one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of photos that are muddied because of dust and fingerprints on the lens. Clean the lens with a microfiber cloth, a wipe intended for use with camera lenses or a Q-tip moistened with distilled water. Or your T-shirt. But don’t spray the lens with a household cleaner. It may cause damage.

Change your settings

Frequently, factory settings are not optimal. So, if you haven’t already, change your image-quality setting to the highest resolution and most megapixels. You can find the options in your camera’s settings menu.

Use your headphones

Too often when you tap the shutter button on your screen, your phone wobbles at the crucial moment. To take steadier photos, use your headphones. Plug them in and the volume button will function as your shutter. Or, if you don’t have headphones, use the shutter button on the side of your phone.

Apply HDR mode

The latest versions of the camera app in both iOS and Android offer you the option of using HDR (high dynamic range). HDR balances the ratio of light, dark and color in your photos. You should see “HDR” in a prominent place somewhere on your display. Most new phones also have an “HDR auto” mode that switches on HDR whenever your camera senses it will be useful. Keep in mind, though, that HDR photos take a few milliseconds longer, so avoid using it on fast-moving subjects or when you can’t hold your phone steady.

Take a burst of photos

This is a very handy function. Hold down the shutter button on your screen and your phone will snap a series of continuous photos. When you’re done, you can sort through them. At least one should be good. This is also a very useful function for capturing moving objects or people. Burst mode is built into iPhones and most Android phones.

Customize your focus

You can tap the screen anywhere to set your focus on the spot you’ve just tapped. This will target the focus and exposure levels at that spot and ensure your subject will be in focus and won’t be over- or underexposed.

Try panorama for landscapes

If you’re taking a picture of a landscape or cityscape, try panorama mode. It captures more of a subject than can fit in an individual photo by snapping multiple photos then joining them cleanly together in a single image. Tap the shutter button to start panning, tap it again to stop. If you have an iPhone, you’ll see the “Pano” mode when you open your camera app. If you have an Android, you should have panorama mode somewhere in your settings.

Get on the grid

A basic premise of good photography is the “rule of thirds.” Imagine a grid of lines superimposed on your phone display, dividing it into thirds horizontally and vertically (nine blocks in all).

Cell phone photography tips - Image example of the rule of thirds

On most new phones, you don’t have to imagine the grid—you can go into settings and display it on your screen. Then place your subject(s) along the lines or at the points where the lines intersect. You’ll get more interesting photos than if your subject is right smack in the middle of the screen.

With these mobile phone photography tips, you’ll be able to snap better pictures with your phone than ever before.