Upgrade your smartphone photos with these helpful tips

By Esra Mahgoub

Everyone once self-proclaimed themselves a photographer, when you unintentionally take a photo of your Starbucks drink where the lighting hits just right, with a blurry background and up close white & green cup. Or maybe the perfect sunset picture posted on your Snapchat story, where all you did was press a button. Here are some tips to make the most out of your smartphone’s camera, without carrying around a high-quality, yet expensive, DSLR camera around.

  1. Don’t use your phone’s flashlight

The smartphone’s flashlight takes away all of the important aspects of a good photo: detail, lighting, and focus. Natural light is the best kind of light, especially when looking to take professional pictures. If you’re looking to take pictures at night, set up additional light stands around the subject for a clear picture without a poor quality background. If you’re taking pictures of light, like fireworks, make sure you don’t have any extra sources of light in your picture that would take focus away from your subject.

  1. Exposure. Exposure. Exposure.

Exposure means how bright or dark a picture is. Most smartphones give you the ability to hold down the screen to change the camera’s exposure, but it’s important to ensure your photo isn’t over or underexposed. Allow natural light to hit your subject to avoid low quality pictures.

img_0559 img_0560

  1. Play around with edit tools, instead of filters.

Most smartphones provide built-in edit tools to change a photo’s light, and color. Within these tools, you can also change a photo’s brightness, contrast, black point, exposure, and saturation. These tools make a big difference in improving your photo quality. Filters, however, are a set combination of edit tools that don’t necessarily work for each and every photo, and may eliminate essential details.

dsc_0436-1 img_1820

  1. Shallow vs. Deep Depth of Field

A Shallow Depth of Field photo is when the subject of your photo is in focus, while the remaining part of the photo is blurred. A Deep Depth of Field photo is when everything in the photo is clear and nothing is out of focus, such as a landscape. Use this technique when deciding how to take your picture.

dsc_0342 file_000-1

  1. The Rule of Thirds

Imagine your photo is split into 3 parts, or thirds. In order to apply the rule of thirds, the main focus of your photo should be off-center, and the background should be out of focus. This is the photo’s composition. In your smartphone’s camera settings, you can enable a grid to appear on the camera screen, to assist with the rule of thirds.

dsc00864 file_003

  1. Don’t Zoom. Crop

Zooming in when taking photos eliminates detail, clarity, and focus. Instead, take the photo from far away to instill clarity, and then crop the unwanted portions of the photo. Cropping also gives you the ability to choose how much of a photo you want to remove, rather than the camera’s zoom.

  1. Contrast Colors

The color scheme of your subject, shouldn’t be the same as your background. Using tertiary (opposite) colors will bring more attention to your subject. It is best to keep the background simple and clean to avoid distractions.

img_3272 dsc00959

8.Change Perspective

The standard photo perspective is a stand-up shot, when the photographer is at the same height as the subject. Experiment taking photos from a birds eye-view looking down, and an ant’s point of view looking up. This technique brings a new perspective that people don’t see from a stand-up shot.

dsc00931 img_0558

9. Practice

High quality pictures aren’t developed overnight. It’s important to keep incorporating these tips into each photo and develop a habit out of it. Don’t just take one photo of a specific subject, take multiple shots to ensure a well-composed photo with good exposure, composition and focus. Since these photos are being taken on a smartphone, you can always delete any unwanted photos.

  1. Have fun!

Photography is all about capturing what you love, and what catches your attention. Experiment with different photo techniques, and perspectives to find a style that suits you best.