How To Improve Your Smartphone Photography Skills

Everyone owns a smartphone these days. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to know how to take a good photo with the built-in camera. As a photographer I get to hear often it’s because I have a fancy smanschy DSLR. But that’s kind of incorrect. You just have to know how to use your tools.

So how do you use your smartphone camera? Well, let me give you some tips.

Don’t use the flash

photographing at night with Huawei P10

Just don’t. Turn that thing off! It will cause your photo to look so bad. If you need an extra light source, it’s best to use an extra smartphone to brighten up the scene. In case your shooting close enough. If you are shooting a landscape, I suggest you experiment with the shutter speeds.

Use the camera-settings for creative expression

photography in RAW with Huawei P10

Using the manual settings will give you some extra freedom to put your own touch into the photos. I suggest to try and keep the ISO as low as possible. A higher ISO will cause more noise in the pictures. Play around with freezing time, or showing light trails by using a long exposure too.

Use the back-camera as much as possible

Selfie in een selfie

It’s hard if you are planning on making a selfie, but just try to use the back-camera as much as possible. The resolution and image quality are better. The front-camera sensor usually is a lot smaller, and thus less qualitative.

Look for the light

If you are planning on making a portrait or a close-up of some products. Go to a window. The natural light will give an even lighting and a natural feel. A window is a free softbox, so try to use it as much as possible.

Find the shortcut to your camera for quick shots

Most smartphones have a shortcut to open the camera. On Huawei, it’s a double-click on the volume down button. This takes a picture immediately and opens the app. This way you can never miss a shot. Perfect if you are doing street photography and something happens.

Don’t zoom

I know it’s tempting to zoom in and then take a picture. But you are actually zooming in on the pixels, and not the scene in front of you. Best it to move closer yourself. Of course it’s not always possible. In case you really need to: make the picture and then crop out the part you want.

Edit the photos at a later moment, preferably out of the sun

photographing in HDR with Huawei P10 Middelheim

Most of us make a picture and then start editing it right away. Missing things that happen and having the sun shining on your screen is not ideal. Even for my Instagram-stories, I wait until later when I can sit down for a minute and actually go into editing.

Use the editing app that fits you

There are loads of apps to edit your photos. Some are better than others, but the most important thing is that the app is focused on your needs. I like to use Snapseed because it gives me full control. But you can use VSCOcam too, or the Instagram editing… or the native app on your smartphone.

Learn more about all the controls in VSCOcam and Instagram.

Know your compositional rules

The rule of thirds, central positioning for symmetrical shots, going low to the ground, … The possibilities are endless. Practise on all of them so you get a hang of them.

Extra tips:

Buy extra lenses

You can find loads of them online. I suggest looking for those who are made of glass rather than plastic. Glass lenses are more qualitative. These lenses help you get more possibilities. Going macro for example. Or a fisheye for those extreme angles. The sky is the limit.

Use a tripod

If you are planning on shooting at night or capturing a landscape, use a tripod! It will help you stabilize your pictures. Using one can also help you lower the ISO and get sharper images.

Are you applying these tips to your smartphone photography already? Let me know in the comments below!

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