How To Take Stunning Photos On Your Smartphone

If you don’t have the money to invest in an expensive DSLR or if you simply don’t want the hassle of carrying a heavy camera around everywhere with you, then consider using your phone instead. Even if you own a DSLR, using your smartphone is good practice for learning composition skills without worrying about all the complicated settings, and nowadays smartphones can take pretty decent photos anyway. So here’s a few simple pointers to help you get the most out of your smartphone photography.

Focus

Although I said you don’t have to worry about changing the settings when using your phone, you’ll find there’s some really easy, useful ones to use. The first one is focus, which is basically what in your photo is sharp and what in your photo is blurry. The focus points in your photo will be sharp, and you can set these on most phones by simply tapping on the spot on your screen that you want in focus.

Brightness/Darkness

The second key setting is the brightness of your photo which is also called the ‘exposure’, and in the majority of smartphones this option should appear as a slider after you’ve pressed on your focus point. You can then slide up/down to make your photo appear darker or lighter. This is a really useful setting and if you own a DSLR then this will help you with judging when a photo is too bright or dark. If you want some examples of what a good brightness looks like then search for some free photos online.

Editing

One of the big benefits of shooting on your smartphone is the ability to quickly and easily tweak the settings after you’ve taken it. A lot of phones have quite a few settings you can use, but if you want to get the full potential out of your photos then I’d recommend downloading a dedicated photo editing app, and the one I personally use is “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC”.

This app also has a pc version and this is the most popular software used by professional photographers, but the phone app has a lot of these settings also. In the phone app you can change lots of things such as exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, temperature, vibrance and loads more. There’s also another benefit to using this app, because a lot of these settings transfer over to the PC version, so if you ever decide to edit your DSLR photos on your computer with Lightroom then you’ll be able to use it quite easily.

The Grid

A lot of phones have the option to show a grid, which is basically two vertical and horizontal lines, and this is very useful for a couple of things.

The first way you can use this is to make sure your photo is level, and an easy way to do this is to find a key subject as a reference point and then try to keep this on a level with one of the lines.

One other way to use these lines is for composing, and one technique which these lines are perfectly set up for is the rule of thirds. This technique of composing is well known by professional photographers, and is more of a useful guide than a compulsory rule to create a balanced, attractive photo. It’s pretty simple to use, all you need to do is compose your photo so key subjects are on the points where the lines cross, or along the lines if you have for example a path or river.

Composition Techniques

We’ve already covered one popular composition technique (the rule of thirds) but there’s a couple more we’ll cover and these are minimalism and balance.

Minimalism is self explanatory, and it simply means not filling your photo with lots of unnecessary subjects and keeping them to a minimum. You might be thinking that your photos will turn out boring if there’s only one thing in it, but some of the most effective photos shot by professionals are just really simple.

Removing background distractions is key to this technique, and this is where using your focus can help by blurring the background to make it more simple. One way to do this is by including only one or two subjects in your photos and then keep the surrounding areas as empty as possible without any points of interest.

Balance is how your subjects are distributed in the photo, and how much weight they carry. The benefits of using balance is they create different emotions in the viewer, for example a balanced photo would be pleasant to look at, while an unbalanced one could create a feeling of unease.

This requires some of your own judgement but an example of a balanced photo is placing an equal amount of subjects or similar sized subjects on the left and right of the photo, or another way is to place your main subject in the middle of the shot. On the other hand, to create an unbalanced photo you could place one subject to the left or right of the photo with little in the rest.

I hope you found some of the tips in this post useful, and if you’re serious about using your phone as a camera I’d recommend doing more reading up, especially on using the settings in your photo editing app.

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