1. Composition Always Matters
Just because you’re not using your camera, that doesn’t mean the rules of composition don’t still apply. Don’t just plonk your main subject in the middle of the screen – think about interesting framing and subject placement.
2. Shooting apps
If you don’t use any apps to stretch the possibilities of your phone’s camera, you really should. There are so many ways you can increase your photographic versatility and potential with an app, and many are either free or available for less than £2.
There are generic shooting apps that give you some control over camera functions like aperture, ISO, white balance and so forth.
For more specific effects, there are a host of apps to suit any needs. Panorama, burst (more on that later), time lapse – whatever you want to try out, there’s probably an app for it. If you’re after a specific look, many smartphone apps can do a pretty credible job of emulating old film cameras, as we discovered.
For a more creative touch, why not look into trying out high dynamic range on your phone? HDR Camera is a neat little app that makes HDR shots ridiculously easy, instantly blending three exposures together for smooth results.
Image: An HDR shot, quickly blended with the HDR Camera+ app
3. Don’t Touch the Digital Zoom
Most of the slicker cameras bundled with phones at the moment have a digital zoom function that allows you to get in a little closer. For the love of god, don’t touch it!
There is no faster way to take awful-looking images – even just viewing in your phone screen, the loss of quality is obvious.
If you want to get closer to a subject, move your phone or move your feet. If that really isn’t possible, then consider cropping in after the fact.
Image: The above scene, digitally zoomed in. Why would you ever do this? Why?
4. Get Some Accessories
The ubiquitous popularity of smartphone photography has given rise to a host of accessories designed to allow you to push your shots a little further. If you’re serious about your phone snapping, considering investing.
iPhone users who want a little more creative versatility should look into the Olloclip range, a series of brilliantly clever little clip-on lenses that can hugely push up your versatility.
Image: As demonstrated
5. Available Light is Key
Try not to use the phone’s on-camera flash. It will make everyone sad. Instead, make the most of the light available to you. Again, move if necessary. Ask your subjects to move if it’ll catch the window light a little better.
Image: As demonstrated
6. Use Burst Mode
Even considering how quick and easy it is to reach for your phone, it is still easy to miss the crucial moment that makes for a great picture. A good way to sort this is by using burst mode when shooting, maximising your chances of getting that shot you want.
While burst modes on phone cameras are getting better and better, we’d still recommend downloading the Fast Burst Camera app. Available for Android and iOS, it’s a superb app that lets you crank out shots at up to 30 photos per second (depending on the speed of your device). If you’re shooting any kind of action, it’s a must.
7. Editing apps
Shooting isn’t the only area in which apps can augment your photography. There are loads of editing apps available that allow you to take more creative control over your images. We rounded up a few of the best.
8. Pay Attention to White Balance
Though phone cameras are pretty sophisticated at the moment, they still tend to struggle with white balance, especially in low light. You’ll get much better results if you remember to take control of white balance when shooting in subdued conditions, either through the phone’s camera or a dedicated shooting app.
9. Linger on a Scene
If you’ve got time, wait a little while to see how a scene develops. A nicer shot may come to those who wait.
10. Get Candids, Not Poses
Everyone looks better in a candid shot than they do in a forced pose with a rictus grin. A phone is less obvious than a camera, and you can use that to your advantage to get some great shots of people looking relaxed and at ease.
It is a Universal Photography Truthtm that most people look their absolute best in the split-second before they notice a camera pointing at them.
11. Keep It Clean
That bottle of lens cleaning fluid? Works just as well on your phone. Something that sits around in your pocket all day and spends the rest of the time being handled and prodded will get grubby very quickly. Clean up the lens for better shots.