Photography has never been more freelance than it is today, thanks to the penetration of the smartphone. Smartphones have only become better in the last few years. Pioneer smartphones came with low-resolution cameras that could only take gritty pictures.

Today, even the cheapest smartphone in the market has multiple camera lenses, startling resolution, and expansive storage options that would also give the user some trouble to fill.

The advent of photo-sharing platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram has made photography to be one of the integral parts of any internet user.

Everyone wants to take the best photos regardless of their purpose. So if you have got the latest eye-catching smartphone, there is a strong chance you are eager to take your photography game a notch higher.

We have compiled a list of smartphone photography tips that everyone – both photography amateurs and professionals – can consider and improve their skills.

Would you like to be a maestro photographer? Here is how to improve your smartphone photography skills:

1 First, begin with a clean and new slate

Before you take a picture, you will want to ensure that your gear is orderly. Often, that means conducting a brief pre-shoot cleaning. So take some time to wipe your phone’s screen and camera lens before capturing your first picture.

Although it might look OK to simply wipe everything on your jeans, coarse materials, like denim or cotton shirts, whether they are damp or not, may end up scratching the glass covering on the camera. If you would like to keep the front of your phone camera blemish-free, consider using a soft material – like a microfiber napkin – to wipe any smudge.

2 Do some framing

Framing your shots requires a creative mind, but that does not mean you must line up everything all by yourself. Most smartphones nowadays assist in composing and framing your shots. In iOS and Android, for example, you can enable gridding through the Camera option in the Settings section.

Proceed to enable “Grid” to permit the rule-of-thirds cover. On Android Smartphones, follow the Settings>Apps>Camera>Grid Lines process to choose between the square overlay and rule-of-thirds cover options.

The art of framing serves two purposes: it composes the image and ensures that you are not capturing unwanted objects while you shoot. As a photographer, ensure everything is in the frame because you need it to be there.

3 Turn on the gridlines to balance the shot

If you turn on the gridlines, the screen will be superimposed in a series of horizontal and vertical lines. These lines are based on essential rule-of-thirds. The principle of rule-of-thirds proposes that the image should be cut into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Turning on the gridlines, therefore, splits your image into nine equal parts.

To utilize this feature, just place your points of interest along the lines or at points of intersections, and your photo will come out more balanced and level. How you turn on/off the gridlines depends on the model of your phone. For the latest iPhones, follow the Settings>Photo&Camera>Grid process. If you are using Samsung Galaxy, open your camera app, proceed to Settings, and scroll down to on/off the gridlines.

4 Set the right focus 

Most of today’s phone cameras will, by default, focus on the immediate foreground of the frame. That’s nice, but not every image you capture would confirm to these default settings. Adjusting where your camera should focus on is as easy as ABC;

just open your camera application and tap on the screen where you want the camera to sharpen its view.

Some phone cameras tend to struggle in following an object in motion and refocusing as needed. Tap the screen shortly before snapping to correct the camera’s focus and ensure the moving object has significant focus.

5 Try taking pictures from weird angles

At this point, we need to agree that there is no rulebook to which every photographer, whether professional or not, must adhere. We have seen some memorable pictures taken from unorthodox angles turn out to be more breathtaking than anything else we’ve ever seen. It all boils down to understanding the subject from a different perspective, except that you need to be creative.

Take the bird’s eye view/overhead view; for example – to capture this kind of shot, the photographer needs to perch themselves above the object. You’ll need a ladder, roof, or even a rope to capture the photo. To utilize the reverse bird’ s-eye view, on another hand, the photographer will need to lie on their back. When it comes to taking photos from weird angles, your imaginations are your limitation.

6 Go slow on the flash

Most of us have the Flash feature set to ON by default and don’t even remember when we did that. If you want to capture great photos with your smartphone, you should turn the flash off. The powerful LED light is often an inch or less away from the camera. So using it unnecessarily will result in blurry images or strangely lit photos whose subjects appear to have red devil eyes or jaundice.

Therefore, flash should only be activated when necessary, like when capturing pitch-black scenes.

If you are a professional photographer who must take photos in the dark, you are advised to find an alternative source of light. The only exception should be when capturing a rare monster that only shows up abruptly once in a millennial.

7 Turn your smartphone on its side 

One of the common mistakes many smartphone photographers do is to capture photos (and videos, sometimes) with their phones held vertically. I can’t mention the number of times I’ve been frustrated on Instagram trying to get some detail about the background of a girl’s photo. The internet is mainly horizontal. We don’t consume content vertically but horizontally.

Not only are vertically captured images and videos inelegant, but they also pose a VVS (vertical video syndrome) danger. As a content maker, therefore, you should practice producing horizontal pictures that occupy the whole screen instead of just a small slice.

8 Ditch the zoom feature

So there are types of zoom: the digital zoom and the optical zoom. Digital zoom is mainly found in phone cameras. It is a mere cropped and resized picture. Optical zoom, on another hand, is found primarily in full-blown advanced cameras.

It is achieved by adjusting the lens to make images appear to be close. As you can see, digital zoom is a not-so-perfect imitation of the optical zoom.

As much as you would like to have a closer view of an object, zooming it with your phone camera won’t be a good idea. Often, the image comes out as blurred to varying degrees, depending on the megapixel calibration of the phone camera.

The vibrations from the photographer’s hands can worsen the situation. Avoid capturing grainy and low-resolution images by ditching the zoom feature. Smartphones that come with several camera lenses – Galaxy Note 10+ and iPhone XS aren’t better either.

9 Consider the cloud storage

If you often run out of memory on your smartphone, it is probably the right time to consider cloud storage solutions. Cloud storage platforms, like iCloud, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s Onedrive, can be a satisfying way to take gigabytes and even terabytes of photos and videos without worrying about the space on your phone. Some of these cloud storage solutions allow your phone camera app to upload the pictures to the cloud immediately.

However, you’ll need to make a few settings, like instructing the relevant apps to upload only pictures with the highest resolution. Some of the cloud storage options give a specific size of free space (Google Drive, for example, offers up to 15GB of free space) beyond which you’ll pay a given monthly fee. As a dedicated content creator, cloud-based backup options are among a fistful of investments you are obliged to make.

If you are operating on a tight budget, the unorthodox trick would be to sacrifice picture quality for increased free space. You can simply sign up with one cloud storage service provider, upload low-quality photos to exhaust the small free space you’ve been offered for by the specific cloud storage services provider, and move to the next platform.

If you must hold on every pixel of photography you took, you have no choice but make monthly subscriptions with any appropriate provider.

10 Steady your body – or use phone tripod

A tripod stand is to photography enthusiasts what a spanner is to a mechanic, especially if you are a photographer with shaky hands. Shaky hands capture blurry photos. Tripods help you in achieving the correct angle before capturing the image. It also gives you a range of photography styles and techniques.

Tripods are necessary for taking time-lapse pictures and low light photography. The best part, however, is that your photos will come out clear as intended.

You don’t need TV crew size tripods. Small pocket-sized tripods would be perfect. Most manufacturers ensure that their tripods are device-agnostic, I.e., they can be used with almost any type of smartphone.

11 Get yourself a shutter button

Ever been frustrated with how the timer snaps the photo when the subject is its worst posture? Worse yet, tapping the screen never capture the best looking self-portrait no matter how steady your hand may be. That is the reason why you need a functional remote shutter. If your hands are steady enough, a remote shutter button can help you shoot multiple satisfying self-portraits.

The benefits of the shutter button are similar to those of a tripod stand – in the long run, you get to improve your technique and style. Some smartphones, like the Galaxy Note family of Samsung smartphones, feature an onboard stylus that also serves as a remote shutter button.

12 Or ask your Android smartphone to take your picture

You probably don’t need the shutter button. The latest versions of the two dominant OSs – Android and iOS – keeps your device on alert all the time, listening for commands. So, why not ask Siri or Google Assistant to take pictures for you? Google’s Pixel smartphone is a little more advanced – it allows you to set the perfect moment to capture a photo; you can instruct it to capture a picture whenever you kiss or smile.

13 Focus on one object

This is a no brainer but worth mentioning; always remember to focus on one object. Too many times, I’ve seen photographers take generalized photos instead of emphasizing one subject of interest. Most photos you’ll take have just one subject, ensure that you focus on that specific subject.

Some photographers often cite the need to avoid making one subject fill the whole frame as the reason why they would take pictures without focusing. That’s permissible because the subject actually needs to stand out. But that doesn’t mean you should take a photo as if everything in it is a subject. Focusing, therefore, goes a long way to emphasize the subject without eliminating the background.

If you often forget to focus or your smartphone camera, you can use apps and filters the subjects look more vivid. Before you reach here, however, consider setting appropriate contrast, saturation, and brightness before taking the photo.

14 Embrace negative space

In photography, negative space is the blank space between and around the picture. Negative space is underrated; it can take a photograph from “average” to “good” or “great.”

Leaving large empty spaces in a photo makes your subject stand out more prominently than if you didn’t. The presence of swathes of negative space also evokes stronger reactions from viewers. But how does negative space look like? It is often an expansive skyline, empty field, large wall, or water.

Conclusion

The key to captivating photography, like any other art, is to keep practicing and learning

Good pictures are the lifeblood of your content strategy. Sometimes you don’t need intricate DSLRs or full-blown cameras to take good photos, especially in the modern era in which camera quality has increased with the reduced price of the smartphone. Learning basic smartphone photography tricks can be more worthwhile than attending a professional photography class.