Mobile Phone Photography Tips

It’s often said that the best camera is the one that you have with you. And with so many of us carrying a phone with us, this camera is often your mobile phone. 

Like with anything, mobile phone cameras are getting better and better with each new phone release. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell if a photo was taken with a mobile phone or a DSLR/mirrorless camera.

Clean your lens

It might seem like a basic tip, but a dirty lens can significantly impact the clarity of your photos and can often be overlooked. But with our phones being handled for many hours each day, it makes sense that the lenses collect all sorts of dirt and grime. Simply give your camera lens a wipe with something like a microfiber cloth before taking pictures.

Understand your camera settings

Get familiar with your phone’s camera settings and its limitations. Yes, it’s possible to take great pictures in auto mode, and this is often the best when you’re trying to take a photo in a hurry but take the time to learn about how to adjust exposure, focus, and white balance. Knowing how to adjust these settings can make a big difference in your photos. The beauty of mobile phone cameras, is they show you what the photo will look like live on the phone screen giving you a good indication if you’ve nailed the settings.

Use natural light

Cameras need light, generally more the better. Whenever possible, capture photos in natural light and avoid using the built-in flash. The built-in flash can create harsh shadows and unnatural lighting and isn’t that strong so can’t light a scene well. If you’re shooting indoors, position yourself near windows to make the most of natural light.

Find interesting perspectives

Experiment with different angles and perspectives to make your photos more dynamic. Try shooting from low or high angles to add variety to your compositions, instead of whipping it out of your pocket and snapping away.

Mind the composition

Follow basic composition principles, such as the rule of thirds. Place your main subject off-centre to create a more visually appealing and balanced image. It’s possible to enable an on-screen grid on your phone to help compose shots using the rule of thirds. Doing this alone can make massive improvements in your photos instead of always framing smack bang in the centre of the frame.

Keep it steady

Hold your phone with both hands to reduce shake and ensure sharper images. If possible, use a tripod, stabilize your phone on a steady surface or even lean yourself against something solid to help make the shot as steady as possible. If you can’t hold your camera still, try to control your breathing before taking the photo. You can even try taking the photo as you slowly breathe out which helps get a steadier shot.

Experiment with focus and exposure

Most smartphones allow you to tap on the screen to set the focus and exposure point manually. Use this feature to control where the camera focuses and adjust exposure for better results. Also, experiment with portrait modes where you can select where in the shot you want to focus, and the rest will be in the soft focus that you tend to get with DSLR/Mirrorless cameras.

Use HDR mode wisely

High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode helps balance the exposure in scenes with both bright and dark areas. However, it’s not always necessary. Experiment with HDR to see when it enhances your photos and when it’s better to turn it off.

Declutter the background

A busy or messy background can distract from your main subject. Look for clean, simple backgrounds that complement your subject rather than compete with it. Simple things to watch out for are items blocking the subject you are trying to photograph or an object like a pole sticking out of their head. If there is something, move it or move the subject before taking the shot.

Edit with care

Enhance your photos using editing apps, but be mindful not to overdo it. Adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation subtly to maintain a natural look. Many smartphones have built-in editing tools, and there are also plenty of third-party apps available. But with photography, it is always best to do it right in camera first and edit the minor things to finish off the photo. Trying to fix issues such as out-of-focus images afterwards, is often impossible to do.

Capture candid moments

Some of the best photos are those taken when people are unaware. Let’s face it nobody likes having a camera pointing at them and capturing that awkward grin/gurn face. Try to capture spontaneous and genuine moments for more authentic and memorable shots.

Use burst mode for action shots

If you’re capturing fast-moving subjects, use your phone’s burst mode to take a rapid series of shots. This increases the chances of getting the perfect shot in action-packed moments without having to worry if you missed the moment or not.