Smartphones make life more convenient. They help settle arguments with a quick Internet search, let you hold all of your favorite music in the palm of your hand and give you an instant way to capture your favorite moments on camera. If you’re relying on your phone’s built-in camera to take important pictures, there are ways you can make your phone pictures even better.
Catch the light
The perfect photo opportunity can be ruined with poor lighting. If you’re taking a photo of someone and their face is in shadow, ask them to turn toward the light for a better photo. Natural light is always best, so take photos outside when possible. Cotton Coulson, a photographer at National Geographic, points out that direct sunlight can cause awkward glares or shadows if you’re not careful — that’s why slightly overcast skies creates the best lighting — so step into the shade if you notice unsightly shadows.
For indoor photography, ditch the flash. Adding a flash to your photos causes awkward glares, washes out your subjects and ruins any potential the lighting may have had. Taking a photo in a dimly lit room is possible without a flash; you can edit the photo after it’s been taken. It’s much easier to lighten a picture that’s too dark than it is to darken a washed-out photo.
Find an angle
Photography is an art, so you should put your own personal spin on your pictures. Find unique angles that may not have been explored before. This may require you to get creative: Lie down on the ground and take a photo from a lower angle; go a few steps up the staircase and take a photo from above. There’s no limit to the number of perspectives you can explore.
Be conscious of objects in the background. For instance, if you’re taking a photo of your friend outside and there are trees in the background, you don’t want to take a photo that looks like a tree is growing out of the top of their head.
Rule of thirds
One important part of any photography class is the rule of thirds: Avoid putting your subject in the center of the picture. Nikon’s Diane Berkenfeld suggests using gridlines to divide up the frame. In your settings, find the option that says “grid” and turn it on. Then, open your camera and try to position your subject near one of the lines on the grid. This will keep your subject slightly off center for a more visually appealing photo.
Don’t zoom in
Using the digital zoom function on your phone can be detrimental to a great photo. The digital zoom decreases the quality of a photo, adding a grainy texture to the image. Instead, Cotton Coulson recommends moving closer to the subject before taking your photo. If you can’t get any closer, go ahead and take a regular photo and crop it instead.
Don’t be afraid to edit your photos after you take them. You don’t have to be an expert with photo editing software to put extra touches on the images. There are countless apps available to help you edit. Start by cropping the photo and adjusting the brightness, contrast and any other settings that need some tweaking. From there you can begin to play with color, increasing or decreasing saturation or adding filters to enhance the image.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take a great photo. With smartphone cameras getting better and better, everyone has the chance to document their experiences on the go. Next time a photo-worthy moment arises, you’ll be ready to capture the moment with these tips.