5 Tips for better photos with your phone

 
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It seems like more and more I am taking out my iPhone to take photos of our daily life. Let’s face it, phones are easy to carry around and in an instant I can pull it out of my bag and start shooting. Don’t get me wrong, I love my DSLR and it will always be my main photo takin’ contraption, but it is nice to switch it up on occasion and still be able to take some great photos.

Here are some things I always do when taking photos with my phone. If you start using these tips today, your phone photos will drastically change.

*all photos were shot with my iPhone 7

 
 

1. USE THE GRIDLINES

 

Gridlines help balance your shot when taking pictures with your phone. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the quality of your mobile shots.

Turning on gridlines will place lines on your screen based on the rule of thirds, a composition principle which states a photograph should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.

 
 
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According to the rule of thirds, if you line up your subject along the lines or at an intersection your shot will seem more balanced and pleasing to the eye. This is essential when using a smartphone since there is no optical viewfinder.

Here’s how to activate gridlines on iPhone cameras:

  • Go to “settings”

  • Select “photos & camera”

  • Find “grid” and turn it on.

And here’s how to activate gridlines on Samsung Galaxy (Android) phone cameras:

  • Open the camera app

  • Go to “settings”

  • Scroll down and switch the “gridlines” option to “on.”

2. USE NATURAL LIGHT

No matter how you look at it, light is the single most important element in photography. Without light, there would be no photography of any sort. Therefore, to improve our skills when taking photos, we need to develop our eye to have a keen awareness of the available light. While it is quite possible to use your flash, more often than not they result in horrible shadows, washed out faces, shiny hot spots, and highlights from reflective surfaces. So let’s focus on bringing your photos to life with natural light.

If you want to create beautiful portraits, you need to shoot in the best light. Why is this? Because great light flatters the subject. Mediocre light makes the whole image fall flat. So what’s the best light? The best light for indoor portraits is window light. But it is important to make sure the sun is not directly shining on your subject. Just having them facing the light will produce dramatic differences in your photos.

Here’s an example of my son facing the window light and then a photo of him in the same spot, but turned around with the light behind him. These photo were taken in portrait.

 
 
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Quite a difference, right? Does that photo on the right look familiar? So many times I see people taking photos where the subject is not facing the light and knowing what a difference this makes, I want to run to them and share this secret. It will take your photos from drab to fab in an instant!

If you are really wanting to take a great photo, just look for the light (natural) and scoot your butt over there for a minute to take the shot. I promise you won’t regret it.

You can also use a window to produce rich, dimensional light by placing your subject close to the window. Again making sure sunlight isn’t directly shining in on them.

 
 
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And these same rules apply outside as well. Remember you do not want your subject in harsh light. Yes, you want them to face the light, but if the light is directly shining on them you will get squinty faces. In this instance, get to an area that is shaded. Once there, you can then turn your subject toward the light (still in the shade) and you will get a better photo.

For the best outdoor photos, try to get outside when the sun is low to the sky (early morning or when the sun is close to setting). Overcast days are also ideal because then you can face towards the direction of the sun at any time of the day and not be blinded since it is hidden by the clouds.

3. GET CLOSE

When you use your smartphone camera’s digital zoom, you lose a lot of fine detail. Instead, try taking just a few steps closer in the direction of your subject and see if your picture doesn’t improve. And when I say closer, I mean super close if you have to. Don’t be afraid to get up in there! You’d be amazed by how getting just a little closer to the subject can make all the difference in the world in terms of picture quality. Plus this allows you to capture all those sweet little details that are sure to warm your heart for years to come.

 
 
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4. GET CREATIVE

This is probably my favorite part of photography. Getting creative can make the most boring moment seem amazing and can result in some of the most memorable photos you’ll own. It’s all about seeing from another perspective. A favorite creative trick of mine and one I use frequently, is a birds eye view - up above. To do this, you would have to position yourself above your subject. Sometimes I just pull up a chair, or a step stool. Sometimes I’m tall enough if my kids are playing on the ground. It just depends on where you are, but there usually is always some way to get up above. And if your feeling super creative, you can always tape you phone to the ceiling to get yourself in that photo. HAPPY GREY LUCKY has the most amazing blog post where she goes into detail about doing this.

 
 
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Another favorite of mine and one you should start trying today is to get down to your subjects level. Try to see things from their point of view. Photos like these are so interesting and fabulous for story telling. I almost ALWAYS am down on the level of my subject (unless I am above them).

 
 
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5. USE AN EDITING APP

 

Want to know how to turn a good photo into an amazing one? Use an app for some basic phone editing. My go to is Lightroom, mostly because I use it on my desktop and it syncs with the mobile app so I have all of my photos and presets there.

But regardless, it’s super easy for anyone to use, and that’s the best part about it! You don’t need fancy editing skills to use the app, all you need is a good filter (or preset) and a few adjustments and you’re good to go.

 
 
 
 

Let me show you. Below is a video of me editing the above iPhone photo of my son playing on our bathroom tub. Watch how I turn this basic photo into one that’s a bit more dramatic and emotive in the Lightroom mobile app.

 
 
 
 

I hope these give you the confidence to GET AT IT with your mobile phone camera! I would love to follow along with some of the photos you take implementing these tips. Use the hashtag #thedailylensmobiletips on IG when you post a photo so I can check it out…or if you don’t have IG, shoot me over an email. Can’t wait to see some of your photos!

 

NEED SOME MOBILE PRESETS?

Check out my NEW mobile preset collection for the Lightroom mobile app that’s sure to make your editing process go easy!

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