You could have the most expensive camera on the market, but if you don’t know how to use it or use the light around you, your pictures will be awful. On the flip side, if you understand basic photography techniques, you can make beautiful images with just your phone camera.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself because you don’t have a $3000 camera. Change your mindset. Be intentional and learn how to use the camera you do have. Become an expert at taking pictures with the gear you have available to you and I promise you’ll be ecstatic with your photos.
YOU are the one in control of the pictures that your camera takes. You are the conductor and the creator.
Even the best camera in the world can’t take a good picture if you don’t know how to use it. Your camera or smartphone is just a tool. If you don’t know how to use that tool correctly, it won’t matter how expensive or up to date it is, your photos won’t turn out the way you hope.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to master my smartphone camera even though I love my DSLR. I don’t always have my fancy camera with me, so I want to be fluent with both of my cameras in order to take pictures of my son whenever and wherever. Plus, I want to be the best teacher I can be and I know so many mamas primarily use their phone cameras!
I’ve got 10 tips to help you take better pictures with your smartphone:
1. TURN OFF THE FLASH
Lighting will make or break your pictures – especially if you’re using a smartphone. If you take pictures with artificial light, like lamps or ceiling lights, it will cause an unnatural yellow/orange tint. Use natural light as often as you can to avoid the yellow discoloration. Take advantage of windows and doors. By using natural light you alleviate the need for flash and can turn it off.
Although I always advocate for natural lighting, I truly believe, “moments always win.” Don’t skip taking a photo just because natural light isn’t available. Just keep it in mind and use it when you can.
2. USE TWO HANDS FOR STABILIZATION
Using two hands will help stabilize your phone and decrease blur in your photos. It’s helpful to alleviate as much blur on your end as you can, because if your kiddo is anything like mine, they definitely won’t be holding still for you.
3. USE THE VOLUME BUTTONS TO RELEASE THE SHUTTER
When your camera app is open on your phone, the volume buttons can be used to release the camera’s shutter and take the photo. This can reduce blur and allows you to stabilize your phone better. If you have an iPhone with the apple earbuds (they’re called EarPods), you can use those volume buttons to release the shutter as well.
Want to learn how to take frame worthy photos that you’re proud of, whether or not you have a fancy camera?
Portraits of Us is a comprehensive online course created by me, for moms! Learn everything you need to know to document your family’s everyday and take photos you’re proud of!
4. TAP THE SCREEN TO HOLD AND LOCK FOCUS ON YOUR SUBJECT
Tap the area you want to focus on and hold down. This will lock the camera’s focus on your subject and your image will be more clear. You may need to do it a few times if you’re subject is a fast-moving toddler.
5. TAP THE AREA YOU WANT TO EXPOSE FOR
Before you take the picture, tap the area on your screen you want to make brighter.
6. USE THE EXPOSURE METER TO BRIGHTEN OR DARKEN YOUR IMAGE
When you tap and hold on the area of focus (as described in #5) a little sun icon will appear. You can drag your finger up or down on the screen to increase or decrease the brightness and then snap the photo.
7. SET HDR TO AUTO
The HDR setting is a feature that takes multiple shots and then combines them into one final high quality image. This is great for a stationary object, but if your subject is a wiggly kid, the image will be blurry. Set your phone to HDR auto so it will turn on and off at the appropriate times.
8. DON’T USE THE ‘SELFIE’ CAMERA
The selfie camera on your smartphone is actually a lower quality lens than the outward facing lens. Always use the outward facing lens on the back of your phone to take pictures. This will help your pictures have sharper focus and be more clear.
9. CONSIDER TAKING BURST SHOTS OF MOVING SUBJECTS
When photographing a moving subject, hold down the shutter button (or volume button) for a few seconds. This will take burst shots (multiple pictures in a row at a really fast pace) and increase your chances of getting an in-focus photo. Another option is to tap the shutter button as quickly as you can over and over again. This will capture several pictures and increase the chances of capturing a non-blurry one. Go in afterwards and delete the duplicates from your phone.
10. DON’T ZOOM
When you zoom, you lose photo quality and your image will not be as clear. Instead, try taking a few steps closer to your subject.
All of these tips have really helped improve my smartphone photography and I hope you learned something new and feel more confident when you pull out your phone for pictures!