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6 Tips For Better Smartphone Photos

There is no question that our phones have at many times replaced our cameras. For some of us, they are our only cameras.  Yet, so often we hate the results because of the camera phone’s limitations. So how do we improve these images until technology perfects them for us? Here are my 6 tips that will help you yield better smartphone photographs.

1) FIND THE LIGHT

Help your images appear sharper and more crisp by using front or side light. This means the light (sun or household bulbs) is directly in front or to the side of your subject. Your photograph will also have nice highlights, mid-tones and shadows, making a richer image.

Image of a Farm at Sunset

2) EXPOSE FOR THE SHADOWS

Generally, backlighting for smartphones isn’t ideal because the photograph is often underexposed. But the dreamy look of backlight would be too sad to avoid. If your smartphone allows you to pick your exposure point, touch the shadows to help immediately brighten the exposure.

3) AVOID THE ZOOM

Smartphones have a wide angle lens and many have the ability to zoom in. Avoid, avoid! The quality is far worse zooming in on the phone than if you were to walk closer to the subject (for a closer composition), or crop in an editing program later.

4) TURN OFF THE FLASH

The flash certainly has its place, but consider shooting without it when the ambient (available) light can help create a more realistic and dramatic mood.

5) DON’T MIX LIGHT

Window light, household bulbs and the sun all have different color temperatures which means that when used together, it can create a messy mix of blues and oranges. When indoor and window light is available, turn off the indoor lights and move towards the window. It will also help you control the shadows, making them look more natural when only coming from one light source. (Window light and shade give gorgeous light!)

6) MAKE THOUGHTFUL COMPOSITIONS

Take time to make a thoughtful composition instead of a random snapshot. Explore different angles and perspectives and let color, texture and shapes help you make interesting compositions.

All images photographed by me with my iPhone 4. Want to learn more? Check out my online classes: Photo 101, Tabletop Photography, Babies, Toddlers & Kids and Photo Workflow.

  1. 1

    Thank you for the tips, Nicole!
    I’ve also figured out the importance of “natural” daylight … when the daylight blends with electric light, the “yellow” appears. Your pictures above are so sharp, vivid in colors with a perspective that creates depth!

  2. 2

    Love the tips! Thanks!

  3. 3
    Megan

    Thanks for the tips! I just got the Iphone 4 and have been hesitant to take many pictures with it because I didn’t think the quality would be as good. But those pictures are amazing!! How does the quality compare to a standard point and shoot camera? (I’m saving up for a DSLR, but until I just have to deal with what I’ve got) :)

  4. 4
    Lorraine

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the tips & I love that you were able to take such nice photos with your iPhone. My dog broke my digital camera so that’s all I have to take pictures, for now.

    Do you have any advice as far as what kind of lightbulbs to use when taking pictures indoors? I use 75 watt bulbs and my pictures always have this yellowish tint to them, when I use the iPhone.

    Thank you!

  5. 5
    Chris mauldin

    Hi Nicole I would like to have some ideas on taking creative shots, instead of just point and shoot.

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