If you need to be reminded of how far technology has come in the last decade, look no further than the cell phone.
That little device in your pocket has some amazing capabilities, including the ability to snap a quick photo or two. In fact, the camera is one of the most popular features on today’s smartphones.
How popular? Well, in 2014 alone, an average of 1.8 billion digital images were uploaded to the internet every single day. That’s a lot of photos. But even though most people seem to be viewing life through a lens these days, not everyone has mastered the art of photography.
If that’s you, here are six practical tips to take your smartphone camera game to the next level.
A lot of great tricks are out there to help you make your smartphone camera shine, but you can only do so much if your phone was made in 2011.
Even in the past three years, smartphone cameras have made great strides in both their software and hardware, which makes getting that high-quality photo nearly effortless for you. While practically any current smartphone will be equipped with a decent camera, a few standout models to consider include the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, and the Google Pixel 4.
Even with the amazing technology in today’s smartphones, getting the perfect picture takes more than pointing your phone at something and hitting the shutter button.
One of the biggest differences between a good photo and a great photo is composition — positioning the subject properly within the confines of your screen or viewfinder in order to draw the eyes to the focal point of the photo.
Still unsure what that means? Watch this quick video to learn how you can start composing photos like a pro.
It happens too often. You’re trying to take a picture, but the subject is too far away so you stretch your fingers across your screen to zoom in.
Why is this so bad? Well, unfortunately, digital zoom actually sacrifices pixels in order to accomplish its purpose. When you use your fingers to zoom in on a subject, you’re essentially cropping the photo before it’s taken. Fortunately, smartphone cameras are evolving, and some multi-lens phones are now equipped with a telephoto lens that provides the option of optical zoom.
Nevertheless, a good rule of thumb with smartphone photography is to move as close as possible to your subject before you snap that pic.
One big advantage of DSLR cameras over smartphone cameras is their ability to adjust aperture and allow lots of light into every shot. This is accomplished through changeable lenses and large sensors.
Smartphone cameras, on the other hand, have set lenses and much smaller sensors due to the limited space within the phone, and all of those limitations can add up to a grainy, low-quality photo if taken in a dimly lit environment.
While you can’t always control the brightness in an environment, try to stage your shots in locations with a good amount of natural lighting. The result will be a crisp photo with plenty of margin for editing afterward.
PRO TIP: That little LED flash on your smartphone is better served as a flashlight. Natural light will always produce higher quality images with more natural coloring and balanced exposure.
Let’s not forget that your smartphone is essentially a handheld computer that can even put some laptops to shame. Take advantage of your phone’s raw power by investing in a simple-to-use, but capable, photo-editing app. A few basic features and adjustments to look for in a good app include exposure, contrast, brightness, curves, blemish removal, and lots of filters. While hundreds of results will show up if you search “photo editing” in your app store, a couple standouts that you should consider are Snapseed and VSCO.
In today’s digital world, there are about a hundred different ways you can share your photos, but not all of them are created equally. In fact, some platforms and services actually decrease the quality of your photos, leading to pixelated, low-resolution images.
Texting, perhaps the most popular method for sharing photos, actually compresses images by reducing pixels — meaning that perfect photo you took might not look so perfect by the time it reaches your friend’s messages. Even some cloud-based storage services reduce the file size of your photos in order to create more room in your digital drive.
Fortunately, you can avoid damaging those beautiful photos by emailing images when you need to preserve pixels and quality. If you prefer to use a cloud-based system, be sure to read the fine print to ensure your photos won’t be altered or distorted when uploading them.