Mobile phones have pretty much replaced cameras in most people’s lives. While it’s true a good camera can outperform most phone lenses, the convenience and portability of smartphones make them the go-to choice when you need to take a photo right away. And as Instagram shows, a phone camera can take amazing pictures.
You can improve your phone photography skills by applying many of the same tricks and techniques used by professional photographers. We’ve assembled a set of nine Android and iPhone photography tips to improve your photography and create beautiful, evocative images.
The photos you take with a smartphone are likely to be viewed on other smartphones and tablets, meaning the photo will be viewed on a small screen. Understanding what this means for your photo’s presentation is one of the most important Android and iPhone photography tips you need to master.
Photos awash in details don’t translate well to small screens. People miss details and the photo looks crowded. Instead, think simple. Use your camera’s rule grid to create off-center compositions that look more natural than when the subject takes center stage in the photo.
Most people shoot photos from about chest height, which results in a common, predictable perspective. Shooting from a lower angle offers a new and more interesting view of your subject.
Low angles allow you to show your subject standing against nothing but sky, capitalizing on the classic technique of using negative space. You can include small items in the foreground that would otherwise be missed, adding further interest. So get on your knees or even lie down for intriguing photos.
A photo is two-dimensional, but with some careful composition you can trick the eye into a sense of depth. Depth in a photo draws the viewer’s eye to your subject, and is especially important in landscape photography.
A simple way to add depth is to look for leading lines such as roads, paths, rivers, and coastlines. Shoot with the leading lines moving from the foreground into the distance.
Going for a low angle that adds foreground details such as flowers or rocks also increases a viewer’s sense of depth, as does using an arch, window frame, or bridge to frame your subject.
If you’re shooting multiple subjects at once, try aligning them in the frame diagonally for a balanced composition. If you can’t move objects to achieve this, look for a shooting perspective where the subjects align properly.
A common photography mistake is to not get close enough to the subject, so this is one of the most important Android and iPhone photography tips to consider. Getting in close allows you to capture texture, details, facial expressions, and emotions you might otherwise miss.
Shadows are wonderful photography subjects. With the sun low in the sky, they can be used as leading lines. Shoot with your light source in front of you to capture shadows in the foreground.
Shooting towards the light can also produce silhouettes. With both shadows and silhouettes, you may have to lower your lens exposure. On the iPhone, this is as easy as tapping “set focus” and swiping down the screen until the shadow or silhouette is dark enough.
Glass, ice, shiny surfaces, and, of course, water, catch reflections. To capture your subject with its reflection mirrored on water, you need to go for those low angles again. This means holding your iPhone about an inch above the water as you take the shot, so keep a firm grip on it—a good photo’s not worth a soggy phone!
As with low angles and composition, the use of symmetry is one of those iPhone photography tips that has its origins in camera photography. Symmetry adds a sense of balance to your composition.
Man-made items and architecture are ideal symmetry subjects, but keep an eye out for symmetry in nature as well. A reflection on a lake’s surface is a good example of natural symmetry.
Try an experiment with your phone camera. Use the digital zoom feature. On most cameras you’ll be able to see a drop in image quality even before you take the photo.
Instead of zooming in on a subject, use the cropping tool instead. You’ll get a better-quality image, and cropping helps you adjust your composition as needed.