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How to take better pictures with your phone

Updated on March 14, 2015
Taken with my Iphone
Taken with my Iphone | Source

Why use a phone camera

Almost everyone carries a phone with them most of the time, and most newer phones have decent camera’s built into them, everyone should learn the techniques and tips to take the best shots that you can with your phone camera.

I have bought several small point and shoot cameras over the years that I could carry in a belt case, so I could always have a camera on me and be ready to capture those special shots, so I wouldn't have to say, I wish I had my camera with me. Phone cameras are not as good as a good point and shoot camera, because you don’t have the control over the critical settings to get the best shots, but the auto settings, at least on my Iphone do a pretty good job if you follow a few tips to get the best out of it, and stay within the limits of the camera.

Take lots of pictures

Here are 8 tips that will help you get the best shots from whatever camera you have available, but are geared to taking better phone camera shots.

1. Take extra shots. like most digital cameras, you're not limited as much as you are with film, so take lots of shots. Most shots will look good on the phone screen, but some of them will not always look good when you see them blown up. Don’t delete shots until you see them on a computer or bigger screen, unless they are obviously bad.

taken with my Iphone
taken with my Iphone | Source

Look at the background

2. Look at the background. The background can make or break a shot. If you have something bad looking in the background, or if it looks like a tree branch or pole is coming out of someone's head, it looks bad and takes some serious photoshop work to fix. The phone camera is likely going to set the aperture to get most of the scene in focus, even if you don't want it all in focus. Make sure you look at the background, or get close enough to get the subject to take up most of the screen so the subject is the background.

taken with my Iphone
taken with my Iphone | Source

Use both hands on phone

3. Use 2 hands when taking the shot. Hold the phone like a camera, keep your elbows in tight to your sides if you can and try to move as little as possible. Blurring the shot from camera movement is one of the biggest reason many pics taken with small lightweight phone cameras are not worth saving.

Steady against something

4. Steady your phone against something. Lean against a tree, sit down and put your elbows on a table, put the phone down on a table or something solid. As with tip number 3, getting a sharp focused shot is one of the biggest problems you face with a phone camera. The best composed cutest picture of your kids is still a frustrating bad shot if it’ blurry.

taken with my Iphone
taken with my Iphone | Source

Don't use digital zoom

5. Don’t use the digital zoom. If you want to get closer, use your feet and move closer to the subject to fill the screen more. The digital zoom will get you in closer on the shot, but it will cost you a lot on the resolution of the picture. Just a little digital zoom will make your photo grainy and show much less detail, so much so that you may not be able to make even a small print that looks good.

Clean the lens

6. Keep the lens clean. Because of the way camera phones are set up, getting smudges and fingerprints, and dirt on the lens is very easy to do. Clean it frequently when you're taking pictures. I have an Otterbox case on my Iphone that has a cover over the lens, and the design of the case is such that the lens is set back into the case 1/16 of an inch or so which makes it much less likely to touch the lens or get dirt on it, or scratch it.

Wife took with her Iphone
Wife took with her Iphone | Source

Watch the light

7. Look at the light. Move the focus and metering point of the camera to use a different spot for metering. You can change the shot from way overexposed to just right, just by a tiny movement of the camera, or a small movement of your body to a slightly different angle. Practice with the lighting and metering of your phone camera to see how it reads the scene, and what you can do to improve the lighting in the shot.

Post processing

8. Use post processing software and different camera apps on phone. The best free camera app I have found for the Iphone is the one from Smugmug. The thing I like about it is it has several settings, one being image stabilization that is very useful. It also has a burst mode for multiple quick shots, a timer, and an interval timer to take a shot every so often. It also loads fast and is ready to use in only a few seconds.

The best post processing free apps I have found are, HRD fx, photoshop express, and BeFunky. They all have different parts that i like to use to tweak my photos and make them look the best that they can look. Get the apps and play with them to see which ones you like the best.

Making your photos pop with post processing is the best way to really get the most out of them.

taken with my Iphone
taken with my Iphone | Source

What to do

As with anything else, practice if you want to get better at taking photos in general, and taking photos with your phone camera. learn what you can do with it and learn what the limitations are. Knowledge is the key to getting the best shots. The technology has gotten to where most new phones are pretty good as a camera, so get out there and practice with your phone and be ready to capture those lifelong memories that you will be proud to say, I took those pictures.

Other good photo articles

Understanding depth of field

A simple definition of depth of field is, how much of the depth of your photo is in focus. Objects that are outside of the depth of field, that are closer or farther from the camera are blurred and out of focus. Depending on the setting on your camera, the amount of depth of field, the part in clear focus, can be from a fraction of an inch, to as far as you can see.

Take better pictures by doing projects

One of the best ways to make yourself a better photographer is to do projects that will make you focus on a specific thing and allow you to explore all you can within that specific area to make you learn all you can and get you proficient in that area.

What is the rule of thirds

If you have been taking photos for even a short time, it’s likely you have heard about photographic composition. The composition of a photograph is how you arrange the parts of a photo, so that it looks pleasing and lets the viewer see the story your photo is telling. It is how you put all the pieces of the photo together.

What camera do you use most often?

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    • spease profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Minneapolis Mn


    • livingsta profile image


      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Good piece of information. Voted up and useful! :)

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 

      7 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Thanks for some great advice! I used to carry my camera everywhere but now with the iphone it's not always needed. I plan to look into those apps that you recommended.

    • spease profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Minneapolis Mn

      Thank you, Phone cameras can take good pictures if we do a few things to help them out.

    • unknown spy profile image

      Life Under Construction 

      7 years ago from Neverland

      beautiful photos! definitely a thumbs up!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good article on using the camera on phones to take photos. Most of the ones I have seen are dark, sometimes dark enough to make the subject almost invisible.

    • carter06 profile image


      7 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      This is great info spease, I'm so glad you've shared this as I'm always looking to improve on my photos and only use my Iphone these days.

      When I first got my 4 it was sharp & clear & it took some remarkable photos when OS of Paris with one that astounded me in clarity from the very top of the Eiffel tower & some on Burano Island & Italy, just amazing!!! but have also had trouble with a milky film on some which is frustrating...will apply your tips & maybe that will help...good job...

      Up, awesome, useful, bookmarked & shared...


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