When taking photos on the go, it’s natural to reach for a camera phone, then point, shoot, and post. Even if you’ve got the basics down, you might still end up with a lot of duds and so-so images in your photo library. If you want to start taking better photos on your phone and make every shot count, follow these tips and tricks.
1. Consider candids
In a world of selfies, it’s easy to forget the power of candid photos, but spontaneous portraits can be more interesting to look at. If you’re putting together a family album or travel book, these of-the-moment photos also add extra personality. You’ll have to take more pictures in order to get a winner, but it’s worth it to capture people looking natural and relaxed.
2. Try the rule of thirds
Check out the gridlines function in the Settings menu on your camera phone. With the grid on, you’ll see horizontal and vertical lines on screen superimposed over the image in view. You can then apply the rule of thirds, a guideline for photo composition, by placing your subject along the lines or at the points where they meet. Positioning the person or place of interest off-center can create an image that instantly captivates the viewer.
3. Seek out reflections
A great way to play with perspective, composition, and lighting is to photograph reflections. Maybe it’s a person reflected in a storefront window or a mountain landscape on the surface of a lake. Creative opportunities are all around you, so keep an eye out for puddles, mirrors, sunglasses, windows, glassware, metallic surfaces, and bodies of water.
4. Fix your focus
Unless you tell it otherwise, your camera phone will use autofocus to prioritize the subject in the foreground. If you want to shift the focus to another part of the scene, tap the screen where you want to sharpen the image. You should see a circular or square icon appear to indicate the new area in focus. This trick can do wonders for you when photographing people and objects in motion.
5. Think abstract
If you tend to believe great photos need to feature a complete head-to-toe scene with perfectly centered subjects, this creative exercise is for you! The goal of shooting abstract photos is to capture something familiar from an unusual perspective or show only part of the whole scene. A close-up or tilted shot of food, architecture, or everyday objects can be surprising, exciting, and even mysterious for the viewer.
6. Explore negative space
In photos, the space surrounding your subject is just as important to the composition as the subject itself. That area is known as negative space—but it’s actually a good thing! Adding negative space around someone in a portrait can create a dramatic effect because the eye zooms in on the person. So look for ways to use walls, sky, fields, or solid color backgrounds behind your subject.
7. Look for leading lines
Sometimes your environment can give you clues about how it wants to be photographed. One way to create eye-catching compositions is to follow the leading lines that are naturally occurring in the room or landscape. Train your eye on pathways, roads, stairways, or architectural angles that direct the viewer’s eye, while creating depth and perspective in the scene.
8. Keep a clean lens
It sounds obvious, but a clean lens makes a huge difference. Since your camera phone doesn’t have a lens cap, every time you toss it in a bag or pocket, the lens collects dust, grime, and fingerprints. Editing all that stuff out digitally is much trickier and more time-consuming than starting with a crystal clear lens. Better to keep things simple by carrying a lens cloth or handkerchief with you for a quick lens cleanup.
9. Play with patterns
The world offers plenty of visual patterns that make great photos, so it’s just a matter of paying attention. Think of all the repeating shapes and colors you encounter in the course of just one day: wood panels, floor tiles, windows, leaves, fences, wheels, rooftops, and so much more. What configurations catch your eye?
10. Zero in on details
It’s natural to want to get everything in a single shot, but that means you risk missing out on the smaller features that can make photos really compelling. After you take a full landscape or portrait view of your subject, step in for a few close-ups, paying extra attention to background textures, clothing patterns, colorful objects, or quirky details.
11. Use flash sparingly
Even though your camera phone may automatically turn the flash on for night pictures, it’s not always the best option. In a dark setting, the flash tends to alter colors and create overexposed images, making the subjects look unnatural. Sometimes the flash is actually more effective in well-lit spaces when you simply want to soften shadows in the foreground.
12. Welcome symmetry
The human eye is naturally drawn to symmetrical things in real life—that goes for people and objects in photos, too! In photography, there are different ways to create symmetry in a scene. As you compose the image, see if the shot can be divided into two parts vertically or horizontally. If yes, chances are you will create a pleasing photo that is balanced and proportional.
13. Expect to edit
Even when you’ve framed your shot and set your focus, the photo you end up with might not be exactly what you had in mind. Don’t worry, that’s what photo editing tools are for! Whether you do a quick fix right on your phone or use photo editing software later, plan to make a few tweaks to color or cropping, at the least, if you want to get the best possible photograph.
Creating a beautiful book on the go is easier than you think. Use the Blurb mobile app on your iPhone or iPad to create, print, and share a photo book today.