Lindsay Kolowich has recently published on HubSpot her tips on how to take beautiful pictures with a phone.

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Before the days of smartphones — if you can remember such a time — taking a great photo was a labor-intensive process. You’d have buy a fancy camera and editing software for your desktop computer, and invest some serious time and energy into learning how to use them.

But thanks to our mobile devices and the editing apps that come with them, we can now take high quality photos and edit them without too many bells and whistles — all from the same device that we use to make calls.

Brands are catching on, too — the kinds of visuals remain important to marketing. But make no mistake: Taking a great photo on your smartphone is not as simple as pointing and shooting. There are plenty of bad smartphone photos out there — I’m sure you’ve seen at least a few.

Download our complete guide to using Instagram here for tips on using phone photography for business and marketing.

What’s the secret to taking great pictures with your smartphone, then? As it turns out, there are a few of them. Check out these tips below to improve your smartphone photography game. (And once you have the photo-taking part down, check out some of the best photo editing apps for mobile.)

How to Take Better Photos on Your Phone: 18 Tips & Tricks

1) Use gridlines to balance your shot.

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera’s gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera that are based on the “rule of thirds” — a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total.

According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.

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Source: Digital Photography School

To switch the grid on …

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

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Source: Lynda.com

2) Focus on one subject.

Many of the best photos include just one, interesting subject. So when taking a picture of one, spend some extra time setting up the shot. Some professional photographers say that the subject shouldn’t fill the entire frame, and that two-thirds of the photo should be negative space — that helps the subject stand out even more.

But be sure you tap the screen of your smartphone to focus the camera on your subject — that’ll help to ensure that it’s focused and the lighting is optimized.

Pro Tip: Once you’ve taken your photo, you can use filters and apps to make the subject even more vivid, or to crop it to frame the subject correctly. The brightness, contrast, and saturation of the photo can also be adjusted accordingly — all from your phone.

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Source: Patrick Janelle

3) Embrace negative space.

“Negative space” simply refers to the areas around and between the subjects of an image –and it can take a photo from “good” to “great.”

When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer. And what does negative space looks like? It’s often a large expanse of open sky, water, an empty field, or a large wall, as in the examples below.

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Source: Eric Christian

4) Find different perspectives.

Taking photos from a unique, unexpected angle can make them more memorable — it tends to create an illusion of depth or height with the subjects. It also makes the image stand out, since most mobile photos are taken either straight -on or from a bird’s eye view.

Try taking a photo directly upward and playing with the sky as negative space, like in the first photo below. Or, you can try taking it at a slight downward angle.

Pro Tip: If you take a photo and find the perspective is a little askew or tilted, use the SKRWT photo editing app to make the lines look clean and square.

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Source: iPhone Photography School; Paul Octavious

5) Play with reflections.

There’s something so idyllic about seeing the sky reflected in a body of water. There’s a reason why we love seeing that — our eyes are drawn to reflections. So look for opportunities to play with them in photos.

There are plenty of out-of-the-box places to find reflections — puddles, larger bodies of water, mirrors, sunglasses, drinking glasses, and metallic surfaces are just a few.

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Source: Joshua Lott; Carlos Copertone

6) Use leading lines.

In some photos, there’s a line that draws the viewer’s eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or circulinear — think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the woods.

Leading lines are great for creating a sense of depth in an image, and can make your photo look purposefully designed — even if you just happened to come upon a really cool shape by accident.

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Source: Carlos Copertone; Paul Octavious

7) Look for symmetry.

Symmetry can be defined as “a vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance.” And pictures that contain symmetry can be incredibly pleasing to the eye — it’s also one of the simplest and most compelling ways to compose a photo.

In photography, symmetry usually means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other. That’s a bit different than reflections — symmetry can be found “in the wild,” as per the staircase picture, or you can set up your photo accordingly, like photographer Eric Christian did in the first photo below.

And remember — use those gridlines from tip #1 to line everything up perfectly.

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Source: Eric Christian; Carlos Copertone

8) Keep an eye out for repetitive patterns.

Repetitive patterns are very pleasing to the eye — they appear whenever strong graphic elements are repeated over and over again, like lines, geometric shapes, forms, and colors. These patterns can make a strong visual impact, and photographing something like a beautiful, tiled floor can be enough to create a striking image. Other times, it’s more fun to keep an eye out for where they appear naturally or unintentionally, like with the congruent fire escapes on the left.

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Source: Patrick Janelle

9) Mess around with color blocking.

Isn’t it cool when an entire photo is black and white, except for a single object? It turns out that yes, indeed, there are apps for that. One of our favorites is Touch Color — an app that automatically converts a picture to grayscale and lets you fill in the parts you want to colorize.

Color blocking can help to highlight the elements of a photo that you want to stand out, like a plant or something else with a bold hue. It achieves a similar goal as negative space, in that it can help a single subject stand out — but with color blocking, the photo’s other elements remain intact for a cohesive image.

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Source: Coloring Pages

10) Avoid zooming in.

When you take a photo from a distance, it’s tempting to zoom in on something specific you’re trying to capture. But it’s actually better not to zoom in — doing so can make the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated.

Instead, try to get closer to your subject — unless it’s a wild animal, in which case we would advise keeping your distance — or take the photo from a default distance, and crop it later on. That way, you won’t compromise quality, and it’s easier to play around or optimize a larger image.

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Source: Obama Pacman

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