On the Go: 8 Tips for Taking Better Photos with Your Smartphone

Smartphones have forever changed the way we communicate. And because of advancements in mobile technology, especially the camera feature, most people have ditched the traditional point-and-shoot cameras for their own mobile device.

Now with sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and personal blogs, it’s easier than ever to share photos straight from your phone directly to the Internet.

So, if you want a photo that stands out among the rest, not to mention learn a few basic photography skills, follow these eight simple (and fool proof) tips for great photo results every time.

thirds

Use the guides on your device to help place the subject (iPhone screen pictured).

1. Rule of Thirds
This is the single most important rule for a pleasing composition in any photograph. Start out by dividing your frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally (if you’re an iPhone user, simply turn your Grid to “on” in the Options menu). Then, pick a strong center of interest (an object or subject) and place it at one of the four intersecting lines on your grid. Once you’ve created your composition, snap your photo!

2. Angles
Taking a photograph at different angles can give a unique point of view and can create interest for the viewer. Remember, variety is good, so make sure to take multiple photos and then select the best one. Here are a few suggestions:

  • When taking a scenic shot, select an angle that will allow a leading line, such as a road, path, fence, or river that will lead into your picture. Make sure the horizon is straight and positioned either high or low in your frame (never in the middle).
The road leads you straight into the horizon.

The road leads you straight into the horizon.

  • When taking a photo of an object or a space, experiment by photographing down from a chair, balcony or staircase. You can also kneel, lie down or look up to achieve a different viewpoint.
Taking a look up provides a dramatic look at the sky, framed by the trees.

Taking a look up provides a dramatic look at the sky, framed by the trees.

  • When taking a photo of a person or subject, including small animals or children, it’s important to position yourself at their eye level to avoid distortion.

3. Background Noise
Busy backgrounds, or noise, can easily steal attention from the subject or focal point in your picture. A busy street or office settings are just a few examples. A simple solution to avoid this hiccup is to move closer to fill the frame with your intended subject. This will eliminate any background distractions and capture the details you originally desired.

There's so much going on in this photo that the focus is lost.

There’s so much going on in this photo that the focus is lost.

4. Lighting

There are two types of lighting to any photograph: Ambient light and a simple flash. Ambient light can be any existing light in and around your surrounding area (sunlight, moonlight, natural light, a lamp, overhead lights, etc.) If you are taking a photo indoors, it’s important to use only ambient light whenever possible. This includes opening windows and shades or turning on lamps and lights. If you’re photographing outdoors, make sure the sun is at your back and not too high in the sky. Early morning and late afternoon are the perfect hours during the day for any natural photographs.

Natural light adds more beauty to an already beautiful cake.

Natural light adds more beauty to an already beautiful cake.

5. Adding Depth
An easy way to achieve depth is to find a natural frame in the foreground of your scene. This can easily be a tree, an overhanging branch, a window, a door or arch. By adding a frame in the foreground of your image, you instantly create depth to any scene. In contrast, if you take a photograph of a larger subject, a building or monument for example, make sure to include something in the foreground to add dimension and size comparison, such as people, trees or cars.

Lots of examples of depth in this pic, enhanced by the use of the mirror.

Lots of examples of depth in this pic, enhanced by the use of the mirror.

6. Don’t Use the Zoom Function
Though many mobile cameras now have a zoom function, you should avoid using it. Different from the zoom function on traditional cameras, mobile zoom decreases the quality of your photo. For the highest quality results on your device, capture what you see on your screen.

If the red cup is what you want, just get closer to the red cup.

If the red cup is what you want, just get closer to the red cup.

7. People
Taking a photo of someone can be relatively simple. Make sure to take a full body shot or a head and shoulders shot, never an in-between shot (for example, from the knees up or from waist up). Also, don’t be afraid to get close when taking a head and shoulders photograph to fill the frame. When photographing people, it’s a good idea to take a few quick shots in a sequence. This way, people become relaxed and look more natural after the first shot.

Not getting a full-length shot here would have taken away from the fun poses.

Not getting a full-length shot here would have taken away from the fun poses.

8. Smartphone Apps
Smartphone photo applications can be your friend when it comes to adding the finishing touches to your image. Below are a few apps we highly recommended downloading. (If you’re using an iPhone, search in the iTunes Store; for Android users, look in Google Play.)

Before and after.

Before and after.

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