Cell Phone Photography 101: What You Need to Know
Cell phone cameras have improved tremendously over the past 15 years, so much so that some people have ditched their digital cameras altogether. Between better resolution, automatic filters and other enhanced features, cell phones are capable of producing stunning pictures, whether you’re shooting a selfie or want to capture a special event.
Even though cell phones can produce some of the best photos taken, there are certain tricks to getting the perfect shot. Start taking better photos with these prize-worthy shooting tips.
1. Clean your camera lens.
This is a simple, yet often forgotten tip. Cleaning your camera’s lens might be the farthest thing from your mind, but a clean lens can be the difference between an amazing shot and a terrible one.
Cleaning the lens on a regular basis makes sense considering how we toss our phones into our pockets, purses, book bags and constantly touch the lens with our hands. As a result, the lens becomes a magnet for dirt, fingerprints and dust. The more grime on your hands, the harder it’ll be to take an incredible photo. Smudges and dirt can block light and decrease the clarity of your image.
2. Remember, light is your best friend.
You likely know the importance of lighting when taking photos. Improper lighting can produce a picture that’s grainy and blurry. Although lighting is essential, don’t go overboard with the flash. Better yet, avoid flash altogether and opt for natural lighting for a more organic, higher quality picture. This might require extra planning on your part, like taking photos near windows or planning outdoor shots instead of indoor ones.
3. Skip zoom.
It’s tempting to zoom in when taking a picture of a distant object with your cell phone, but fight the urge. Unless, of course, your cell phone is equipped with a quality zoom feature. If not, zooming can produce a grainy, highly-pixelated photo, which completely ruins an otherwise perfect shot.
Instead, get physically closer if you can, or take the photo at a distance and then crop it using a photo editing app.
4. Keep your hand steady.
Even the slightest hand movement while taking a photo can create a blurry, unfocused mess. Keep your hand and camera as steady as possible. It helps to find something stable nearby and rest your hand on it as you take the photo, like a tabletop, counter, or otherwise nearby surface. If you can’t stop your hand from moving, invest in a tripod. Compare prices at local retail stores or shop online on a reputable website. Make sure you purchase a tripod that’s compatible with your phone.
5. Use delay timer.
If your cell phone camera has a delay timer, set the timer for three, five or 10 seconds. Once you hit the button to capture a photo, a countdown appears on the screen, which gives you time to pose and play with different facial expressions before the camera takes the actual photo. This feature is also useful when attaching your phone to a tripod to capture a group selfie. You can set the timer and quickly join the photo.
6. Download a photo editing app.
Your cell phone likely includes built-in photo editing, but these features pale in comparison to those found on photo editing apps. Many inexpensive photo editing apps (Snapseed, Darkroom, Filterra, etc.) include crucial tools, like brightness, clarity, saturation and warmth of a photo, plus the ability to add filters for a softer or more dramatic photo. Playing around with filters and color can turn an ordinary photo into an awesome piece of art.
If you know people who take breathtaking photos with a cell phone, they probably have a few insider tricks up their sleeves. The truth is, good photos don’t always happen by chance—they often require the right technique and the right tools.