8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

They say the best camera is the one you have on you. Most people have a phone on them, and therefore a great camera. ( I have a friend who has a flip-phone, but that’s another story!) As photographers, we are so lucky to be able to have these powerful cameras that just slip into our pockets or bags. It’s a modern miracle!

Phone cameras are great, but you have to treat them like a camera, not a phone, to get the best out of them.

Redfern Sydney 2013. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Redfern Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

use the front camera

Your front camera is going to be way better than your back camera. For example, here are the tech details on my Samsung Galaxy S7:

Rear: Dual Pixel 12MP
Front: 5MP

More than double the megapixels. It is going to produce sharper and better images. Unless it is selfie-time, use your main camera to capture as much detail as possible.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

CLEAN THE LENS

Sound basic right? Fingerprints easily get on the lens, just by holding your phone. A quick wipe will guarantee you are not getting that David Hamilton look. I use and recommend a t-shirt. Haha.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

FIND THE GOOD LIGHT

Shooting in shadows or in full bright sunlight are going to do nothing for your images-especially if you are photographing yourself or others. Look for light shade, indoors with some soft light coming through curtains.

Harsh shadows, unless you are going for a high-contrast image, are not going to look great when shooting people or flowers for example.

Avoid using the flash. Generally the flash is just going to ‘blow-out’ your image and it will look terrible.

Shooting at sunset or sunrise is always going to produce better images too.

Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

reduce saturation PLEASE!

Nine time out of ten, you are going to want to reduce the saturation of your images slightly. Nothing screams inexperienced like oversaturated images. Hit that slider and calm the image down a little. You will always have a better looking shot by reducing saturation. Please. Nobody likes having their retinas burnt out by oversaturated images.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

KEEP YOUR PHONE ROCK STEADY

Nobody likes unintentionally blurred images. If you are going for a longer exposures, use a mini tripod or rest your phone on a park bench, post or against a tree. I love my mini tripod- it just goes in my pocket.

Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

don’t zoom

You will destroy your image quality. Simple as that. Zoom with your feet. That said, zooming a tiny amount will reduce distortion, I have found, when shooting portraits.

Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.
Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.

USE AN APP OR PRO MODE

Unless your phone has ‘PRO’ mode, (or even if it does) The Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor is amazing for shooting with complete control over shooting and for editing. It is available free for Android and IOS.

If your camera has a “PRO’ mode, use it to really take control of your photos. A whole world opens up to new possibilities when you don’t rely on Auto.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

think like a pro

By this I mean, look for different angles, (high, low) shoot through other objects like door frames (frames within frames), leading lines (like a garden path, or a row of trees). Use dynamic angles (tilt your phone). Get creative.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

CONCLUSION

If you think like you are using a ‘real’ camera, you will get more from your photos. If you have the attitude: ‘this is just a photo on my phone’ then that is all you will achieve. Clean your ‘camera’, get creative, play with apps and editing, keep your camera steady and watch those saturation levels.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

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