I have found that as a professional photographer – I generally try and keep the “big guns” at home when I’m out adventuring for fun, or hanging with my friends – so my iPhone has quickly become my favorite camera for all of life’s moments and for sharing on Instagram. I’ve put together my favorite tips for taking better photos with your camera phone and compiled them below.
This article is a longer version of the segment I filmed for King 5 News back in May 2014 for Memorial Day weekend.
All my camera phone photos are taken with an iPhone 5s.
1) Use better lighting – Finding the best spots to take a photo with good light is going to make the biggest difference in the quality of your photos! If it’s bright and sunny out, try to find a spot that is shaded and have your subjects face the brightest part of the sky. This will make sure your subject is well-lit without having to stare directly into the sun. Avoid taking pictures into the sun because your subject will be way too dark and you may get some sun flare (little streaks or spots of light in the photo). Camera phones have a hard time with this lighting scenario because of it’s automatic settings – so save the back-lighting for your DSLR.
2) Turn off your flash – Keep your auto flash settings to off. The only time you should use flash is indoors (for example, at a restaurant) or at night. The flash on your phone isn’t going to be enough to over-power the sun, and if you keep it on during the day, it’s going to make your pictures too dark. Best to keep it off unless you tell it otherwise.
3) Fill your frame – Unless you are taking a landscape photo, I recommend that you fill the frame as best you can with your subject.
4) Hold your phone horizontally – I am always using my camera horizontally because I want to fill my frame from top to bottom. When I post to Instagram I like to keep everything in squares and can crop off the sides of my photos without losing the important part of the image. You know when you take a photo of your friend but can’t fit it to a square without chopping off the feet? Frame them from head to toe with your phone held horizontally and you’ll never have this problem again!
5) Shoot from a straight-on angle – I always notice too must distortion when shooting vertical, which is why I stick to shooting horizontal, but I also notice a lot of distortion when shooting from a low or high angle. I tend to keep my phone at chest height to get the best perspective and flattering shots of people.
6) Avoid using the zoom – If you need your subject to be bigger – walk closer to them. Your feet are going to be your best zoom! The zoom function will make your photos pixelated and grainy – so when you need to get a better shot of what you are photographing, just move closer. Or better yet, pick up a Moment “tele” lens.
7) Tap to focus / correct exposure – On the iPhone, tap on the screen the object you are trying to make the subject of your photo. This will focus on that area. It will also tell the phone that is the most important part of your shot and it will adjust the exposure. If one area of your picture is too dark – tap there to brighten up the whole photo.
8) Take more than one photo – If you have a big group to photograph, or you are trying to capture something moving, take more than one photo. That way if someone was blinking you’ll have a few to choose from. The burst mode on the iPhone helps a lot when capturing movement.
9) Use an App to enhance your photo – Also avoid using the Instagram filters! I like to use any of these apps to play around with exposure, sharpness, shadows and colors: VSCO, Afterlight and Litely. VSCO is my #1 used App and is great for adjusting so many tiny details to make your photos look perfect.
10) Use Panoramic mode to get better landscapes – I’ve become obsessed with Panoramic mode on the iPhone. I use it to take my favorite landscape photos because I can fit more of the scene into a square, than just taking a straight photo. Some day I will pick up a Moment “wide” lens to improve these types of photos, but for now I’ve hacked the system by using Panoramic mode.
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