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How to Take Good Scene Photos with Your Cell Phone

Updated on September 12, 2019
Phoneography is a new photography venture.
Phoneography is a new photography venture. | Source
Tilt and shift your phone to change the perspective of your scene photo.
Tilt and shift your phone to change the perspective of your scene photo. | Source

How to Take Good Scene Photos with Your Cell Phone

If you have a cell phone with 8-megapixel camera, it is good, however, you can take good pictures even with your 3 megapixel phone camera.

Each day cell phone camera is getting better with more megapixels, quality lens, flash, video mode, scene modes, facial recognition, focus and resolution. Of course, less megapixels means your photos will have noise, but some tricks will help you take better shots with cell phones.

Before you begin taking pictures, you have to know your phone camera. Don’t let your camera decide the kind of photo for you. Play with cell phone camera settings. Auto mode can sometime create nice pictures but not always.

Turn off the photo effects while taking pictures. You can always apply effect later during post processing. Use third party photo editing applications to apply photo filters.

You can apply multiple filters to create an amazing scene photo.

How to Set Camera While Taking Scene Photo with Your Cell Phone

ISO: If you are taking pictures in bright lighting conditions, set ISO to minimum. If you are in low light, set ISO to maximum.

White Balance: Instead of Auto mode, try to play with incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, cloudy, twilight, shade etc. according to different lighting conditions.

JPEG: Always set the quality of your photos to maximum.

Scene Mode: Don’t let your camera decide the scene mode for your photo. Play with scene mode settings.

Flash: When the flash is in auto mode, camera will fire flash automatically while taking pictures in low light. However, it is highly recommended that you turn off auto flash.

Make interesting facial expression while taking scene photo with cell phone
Make interesting facial expression while taking scene photo with cell phone | Source
  • Style your hair, apply makeup, and wear nice clothes and get ready for the photo shoot.
  • Choose an interesting background. Bright colors will create a nice background for your scene photo. Your background and foreground must be well lit.
  • What do you want to capture, just your face or head and torso? Position yourself according to the type of photo you want. Choose an angle for your shot.
  • Make interesting facial expression. You can also use props.
  • Hold your phone steady and press the shutter. Wait for a while for photo stabilization.
  • Take pictures in different angles. Tilt and shift your phone to change the perspective of your scene photo.
  • Framing is important. Compose your photos in symmetry.
  • In the beginning, you can use mirror as a guide to take pictures. With constant practice, you will be able to take good scene photo with your cell phone camera, without needing a mirror.
  • Use third party camera applications to take a perfect scene photo with your smartphone.

Use mirror as a guide to take good scene photo with cell phone. With constant practice, you will be able to take good scene photo without needing a mirror.
Use mirror as a guide to take good scene photo with cell phone. With constant practice, you will be able to take good scene photo without needing a mirror. | Source

8 Ways to Take Good Scene Photos with Your Cell Phone

  • You can control the exposure in your scene photo by tapping on the bright part and the dark part on the screen while in shooting mode.
  • Instead of being depended on flash, try to use the source of light in and around you. Use scene mode in your camera to take pictures in different lighting conditions.
  • Take pictures in night mode when you are shooting in low light environment.
  • Make sure cell phone camera lens is clean, does not have fingerprints or dust.
  • While shooting with your camera phone, try to avoid bright reflection and hot spots. Remember, you can capture best scene photo in diffuse light.
  • Always take pictures in maximum resolution. When you set your cell phone camera in maximum resolution, you can capture minute details.
  • Use photo-editing programs such as Photoshop or GIMP to improve the quality of your cell phone photos.
  • Sync your cell phone with computer and store your photos in hard disk. Alternatively, you can also use cloud storage.

Patan Durbar in Kathmandu by Samsung
Patan Durbar in Kathmandu by Samsung | Source

How to Take Good Photos with Your Cell Phone

Remember the photography rules you have learned. Cut your frame into three parts horizontally and vertically, and position your subject away from center. This is called the rule of the thirds. You can practice this by using grid feature in your camera. The rule of the thirds also allows you to segment different things in your frame.

When you are taking pictures in contrast lighting conditions, use HDR mode. HDR mode will give you even color and light on your photo. When you take pictures in HDR mode, your phone camera will take several shots and combine them to create a perfect shot. You can use HDR mode while taking pictures of moving subjects. You can also shake your phone to take a picture of still subject in HDR mode.

India by Nokia N79
India by Nokia N79 | Source

Pros of Phoneography (Phone Photography)

You can use your cell phone camera in many ways: to document your life as well as preserve your memories of places and things.

You don’t have to carry your heavy SLR/DSLR, or point-and shoot camera. You will have your camera wherever you go.

You don’t need to use complicated image manipulation programs. You can quickly edit your photos in phone photo editing programs.

You can share your photos on social media instantly.

Since your phone photos are relatively small, you can have a large collection of photos.

Farm yard by iPhone4
Farm yard by iPhone4 | Source

Cell phone camera takes lower-quality photos compared to traditional camera. In order to compensate this factor, get close to the subject and try to capture details.

Keep your cell phone steady while taking pictures. If you can hold your phone still, you won’t have blurry effects. However, you can experiment by shaking your camera while taking pictures. After pressing shutter, remain still for few seconds to get sharper image.

The zoom feature can be a wonderful tool to take distant pictures. The zoom feature in cell phone camera is digital. Digital zoom does not create good pictures as in optical zoom. Instead of zooming, get closer to your subject as much as you can.

Quality of your photos taken from cell phone depends on lighting conditions. Pay attention to the source and strength of light. If you want to brighten your subject use flash. However, if you want to take silhouette photographs, don’t use flash. You can experiment by taking pictures in different lighting conditions.

Cell Phone camera has short focal lengths, so try to be close to the subject. If you want to get shallow depth of field, you can later blur the background in the image in photo editing program. Cell phone camera is not best when it comes to take pictures in wide angle. Try to focus at small subject while the scene is in the background.

Raft by Android Phone
Raft by Android Phone | Source
Sunset by Windows Phone
Sunset by Windows Phone | Source

Photography Apps for Your Smartphone

Built-in applications may not satisfy your curiosity for phone photography. Here are some third party applications for your smartphones.


Camera360 is a camera as well as photo-editing program. It is available free for Android device. You can apply amazing effects before and after taking photos. Social media sharing is available with Camera360.


PicsArt is a free photo editor available free from Google Play. Some of the features of PicsArt are: apply photo effects, take pictures, and share your photos on social media.


Aviary is a wonderful photo editor. Limited version of Aviary is available free for iPhone as well as Android phone.

Sunset by iPhone4
Sunset by iPhone4 | Source

What do you think about phone photography?

See results


There are few effects in free version of Photoshop application for iPhone, however, paid version is a powerful photo editor. You can apply wonderful effects with few taps.

Color Splash Effects

Color Splash is a free photo editor for Android device. You can do quick edits with few taps as well as detail editing.


Instagram for iPhone is a wonderful place to apply photo filters as well as share your photos online. You can create professional shot by applying Instagram filters.


DXP is an application for iPhone. You can get free or paid version. You can blend photos using different blending modes with this app.

© 2013 Vinaya Ghimire


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    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      7 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      The nice thing about a cell phone, it's usually handy. Thanks for the advice on how to improve my phoneography

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      7 years ago from Taos, NM

      Vinaya: This is a great hub. The photos you have taken with cell phones are extraordinary. Thanks for all the tips you give on how to take pictures with phones. My phone takes pretty good pictures and has an auto shoot, but this is so helpful now. Great writing and great work, as usual!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile imageAUTHOR

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal



      It is not always possible to carry our camera, however, where ever we go we have our cell phone. I also love taking pictures with my cell phone. Though technically not great shots, I have taken some of the best pictures from my cell phone.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      This was a great topic and very insightful! I have taken some of my best pics with my iPhone.......I love it. Thanks for sharing. (Voted up)

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      7 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

      I followed this a few days ago, because it looked interesting, and today I read it. This is a great topic. I always have my cell phone on me, but don't always have my camera, so this is a good tutorial. I also like that you listed Smartphone apps. Very handy! I think I'll check some of them out.

      Thanks for sharing this with us. Voted up and sharing!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile imageAUTHOR

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal

      @Eddy, thanks for your generosity.

      @Sannel, I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for sharing on the social media.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a really useful and interesting hub. I'm doing most of my photography with my cell phone, since my other "good" camera is too big to carry around. I have actually had some amazing shots with my cell phone and with these excellent ideas, I'm sure my pictures can only improve. Thanks!


    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      This gem just for me and I vote up and save.

      Keep them coming Vinaya.


    • Vinaya Ghimire profile imageAUTHOR

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal


      J.S. Matthew





      Thank you my dear fellow writers for your wonderful feedback. I enjoy taking photos with my professional camera as well as cellphone. When it comes to document life, I have found cellphone camera is more handy.

      Have a great weekend.

    • StephSev108 profile image

      Stephanie Marie Severson 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for the great hub...I needed this!

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 

      7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      These are great images taken using a cell phone! I can't believe how clear they are, especially the one with the raft and India. Really good!

      Voted up and interesting.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image


      7 years ago from KOLKATA

      What a convenient way of taking snaps! I have seen how young boys and girls flaunt their latest cameras with maximum facilities but end up taking pictures which cannot even match the quality offered by ordinary cameras. Excellent ideas and thank you for the useful hub.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      You are certainly on the top of your game with this one! Cell phone photography has taking off and just continues to grow. I have been amazed at some of the cell phone photos I have seen and what could be more convenient?

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and shared.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hey Vinaya!

      Great and useful Hub here as always! I have a few cameras but I have caught some amazing shots on my cell phone. Voted and shared. Nice to see you my friend.


    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      7 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Vinaya,

      Thanks for another useful and interesting hub here. Learned a lot, as I always do from reading your hubs.

      Great info!

      Voted up +++ and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper


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