● Get to know your phone’s camera
Before you get serious about smartphone photography, it’s important to know what you’re working with. Take a look at your phone’s camera settings. Chances are, your phone has a preset resolution and various default options for controlling focus, exposure and so on. Even though it might seem daunting, the more you can control with your phone’s camera, the better.
● Clean your lens
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but making sure your lens is clean is a must. Our phones are constantly being handled and often kept in lint-ridden handbags and pockets, so fingerprints and flecks of dust on phone camera lenses is common. Both of these things can ruin your shot, so be sure to keep a microfiber cloth handy (a sunglasses cloth or face tissue also work).
● Get comfy
Having a steady hand is essential for taking a crisp photo with your phone. If you know you’re going to be taking heaps of photos, make sure you can hold still without getting too tired. Using both arms to hold your phone, or resting your arm on a sturdy piece of furniture might help you do this. It might also be worth considering investing in a tripod with a smartphone attachment or- dare I say it- a selfie stick, for steady wide-shot selfies that won’t make your arms burn.
● Learn about composition
The very backbone of a good photo lies in its composition, or how you balance the elements of your picture. There are various “rules” about the positioning of your subject, background, foreground that are definitely worth scratching up on. For example, the rule of thirds, where instead of placing your subject in the centre, you place them towards one of the outer thirds. Another is the rule of odds, which is where odd groupings of objects appear more satisfying than even groupings due to our nature to look for symmetry and consistency.
However, rules are made to be broken. After you’ve gotten the hang of the different aspects of composition, being creative with your compositions makes for equally as, if not more eye-catching photos.
● Lighting, lighting, lighting
Where there’s leeway in how you might play with composition, lighting can make or break your smartphone photography game. If photographers could control the weather, we’d have bright, diffused light like that on an overcast summer day all the time. But we can’t always be so lucky. Smartphones are becoming more and more capable of taking pictures in less-than-ideal light, with many having night photography features. When in doubt, try to take your photos in daylight or at least have your subjects facing a light source.
Using your camera app to zoom instead of moving closer with your feet is the first step towards taking bad smartphone photos. Unless your smartphone happens to have optical zoom (most don’t), using the digital zoom feature, which works by enlarging pixels, will result in noisier, more pixelated pictures. It’s best just to walk closer if possible, or do some clever cropping when you edit the photo later.