8 Tips to Improve your Phone Photography

Taking good photos is not only about the gear you’ve got. You can get some really great shots on your smartphone just by using some of the phone photography tips in this post.

1. Light is key

Improve Phone Photography
Photo credit: Hernán Piñera

What does photography even mean? Quite literally, ‘photo-graphia’ means ‘light-drawing,’ therefore light is hugely important in capturing images whether it’s the middle of the day or the middle of the night. Look for natural light and shadows to add depth to your phone photography. Furthermore, try shooting in black and white to help you focus on the relationship of the photo with light, without the distraction of color. Finally, by learning some of the technical elements of your phone’s camera, you can increase light sensitivity for better composition. Which leads us to…

2. Learn the technicalities of your phone camera

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Photo credit: Jeff Shewan

Learning how to change the technical elements of your camera will give you a ton of control. Not only will you be able to take better photos, but you’ll know exactly how to quickly change settings when needed. Things like ISO, exposure, white balance, aperture, and focus, can be easily adjusted and when done correctly, they will improve your photography considerably. Especially relevant, ensure the picture size is the highest it can be for better photo quality, and turn on your grid lines.

3. Download a better camera app

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Photo credit: Anne Worner

Although the factory camera application of any phone is just fine, it will only go so far towards allowing you control over your settings. Photographers who want more control over features and technical items should seek out 3rd party apps which will give them more control over the elements discussed in point two above.

4. Keep the flash off

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Photo credit: Son of Groucho

Flash gives off very flat light which isn’t very flattering. If you need more light, adjust the ISO and exposure. ISO is the sensitivity level to light – the higher you set the ISO, the mores sensitive it is to light, therefore the more light it captures. The downside of increasing ISO is that your photo quality won’t be as smooth, rather more noisy. However if you’re in a low-light environment, manually increasing the ISO will avoid using the flash resulting in a more naturally lit photo. Furthermore, to compensate for the lack of natural light, you could also increase the exposure. A positive exposure is considered ‘overexposed,’ or too bright, while a negative exposure is ‘underexposed.’ While it’s good to keep the exposure balanced, or at 0, for settings with good natural lighting, only you will truly know how much light to allow based on each photograph.

5. Play by the rule of thirds

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Photo credit: H Matthew Howarth

Turn on the grid lines in your phone’s settings to help you place your subjects correctly. Grid lines divide your screen into thirds horizontally and vertically. Get into the habit of placing the subject of your photos along these lines or exactly where they intersect since this will yield a more interesting and eye catching photograph.

6. Stabilize your phone

Improve Phone Photography
Photo credit: Kuster & Wildhaber Photography

Don’t you just hate it when you could have had the perfect shot except it turns out blurry? If your phone hasn’t got automatic optical image stabilization (or even if it does) it always helps to hold your phone with both hands. Moreover, set your volume key as the shutter button rather than using the one on your screen. Doing this will better stabilize the phone, thus increasing photo sharpness.

7. Avoid the zoom function

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Photo credit: bm.iphone

If you want to get closer to something in your photo, physically move your body towards it. Using the digital zoom on your phone will significantly reduce the resolution and quality of the photo. If you can’t get any closer, you’re better off taking the photo at the highest quality as it is and later cropping it without changing its resolution.

8. Just do it… and lots of it

Improve Phone Photography
Photo credit: Garry Knight

Don’t waste time trying to figure out the best angle and position for the perfect shot right away. Rather, start by taking a few shots and reviewing them, then make small adjustments until you are happy. Remember, you don’t want to lose the moment! That being said, also experiment with different angles: get close to the ground, shoot from your knees, or climb a tree or ladder. Changing your physical frame will give you a unique perspective and interesting shots.


At the end of the day, your photography should be fun. If you want to learn more, look up some manual photography cheat sheets. They will help make those connections between logic, camera, and settings. Additionally, if you want some safe practice, check out Canon Outside of Auto. While the exercises are designed for a DSLR, the foundations are the same and can be applied to your phone photography as well.

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Taking good photos is not only about the gear you’ve got. You can get some really great shots on your smartphone just by using some of the phone photography tips in this post.

Now that you’ve mastered these phone photography tips, your next photo might just be the right one for your Diamonds in Ice order. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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