Cell Phone Photography Tips

Hands holding a cell phone taking a picture of holiday gifts

The holidays are here and that means capturing memories. Taking photographs with your cell phone has become synonymous with having a phone. Cameras in cell phones continue to improve. For many, that means it becomes your main use for taking pictures and videos. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your holiday photos.

#1. Lighting your subject

Lighting your subject is a crucial step in the process of photography. Think of it this way: better lighting, or balanced lighting lends to better photos. It’s important to note how light impacts your image.

If the subject of your photo looks dark - it is. Avoid shooting into dark and shadowy areas. When possible either bring your subject into the light, change the direction you’re shooting, or add lighting. Be aware of how the light and shadows fall on your subject and use that to create. When you’re looking at the image, you’re looking for the right amount of light and color.

One tip to remember is to avoid shooting into bright lights. Try to have the light come from the side, above, or in front of your subject.

#2. Get Close

The closer you’re able to get to your subject, the easier it is for the sensors in the camera to do its job. This helps maintain a clear in-focus shot of your subject. Fill your field of view instead of relying on the zoom. However, don’t forget the perspective of your image. Too close, and you’ll run the risk of distorting your image. For really close images (flowers or bugs), use macro mode in your settings.

#3. Keep Still

The slower your shutter speed the more important it is to keep still. Any slight movement will impact the final shot, especially in low light situations (slow shutter speeds). There are a lot of options on the market for small, portable tripods that will help ensure you’ve got a steady shot. Some simply stand, while others can wrap around objects (like poles) or adjust for uneven ground. Using a timer can also help with a tripod, as even clicking the shutter button can move the camera enough to distort the image.

#4. Editing Images

There are a number of editing tools available for pictures. Some phones come equipped with apps for photo editing. Others can be purchased. All of them have similar functions, and they are quite useful. Take the time to learn how to navigate your desired program. It can help improve your overall image, while helping you better understand your photography process. However, these programs can’t perfect every image. Thinking you’ll fix it in editing is not the best method. Focus on taking a proper photo (balanced lighting, shutter speed, etc.) then enhance or edit the photo to draw out more as needed.

#5. Avoid Using Digital Zoom

It may be tempting to use the digital zoom on your camera. Being able to zoom in on your subject is a handy feature. However, current technology for zooms on cell phone cameras tends to significantly decrease the quality of the image. In essence, the image becomes more pixelated (grainy). Some phones are better than others, but a better option is taking a clear quality picture and then cropping in through your editing program.

#6. Use Pro Mode

The next time you open your camera on your phone, navigate to your settings. You’re likely to see a number of options from night, macro, panorama, and pro mode. Pro mode is like taking the auto function off while giving you full access to adjust the shutter speed (how fast the camera takes a photo), aperture (amount of light coming into the lens), white balance (keeping your images true to color), and a host of other functions. You don’t need to adjust everything each time, but knowing how these affect your image is helpful. In the end, it will help you take better photographs.

#7. Follow Composition Rules (Then learn to break them)

Basic rules of composition include the “rule of thirds”. Simply put, think of your overall image as being broken into three areas. Don’t place your subject squarely in the center of your frame. Instead, place them a third of the way in the photograph. This will help bring more life to your photos. Use that knowledge and play with it. Change the level of your camera to create interesting shots. Shoot from the ground, up high, up close, or from the hip. Play around with it and see what comes out.

#8. Keep Your Lens Clean

Keeping a camera lens clean can be a challenge, but even more so when your camera lives in your pocket, bag, or left out on a desk. A result of this is a lens that will collect dirt and dust, and potentially get scratched. Most cell phone cameras don’t have a lens cover. Before you take a picture make sure to clean your lens using a soft cloth

#9. Have Fun

Taking photographs is a great way to remember moments in our lives. Whether you’re using it to take photos of family, vacations, or creating something new have fun with it. Like any skill, it takes practice. YouTube is a great resource for additional training and education. The next time you pull your camera out to take a picture try something new. You might be surprised what you learn, and what you’re able to capture.