How to take good photos with your phone: 33 tips and tricks

Gone are the days when high-quality photography was exclusive to those with expensive cameras. Today, armed with nothing but your phone, you can photograph striking images worthy of gracing the pages of photo books. 

Whether you’re a seasoned shutterbug or just starting, learning how to take good photos with your phone reveals a realm of creative possibilities. This guide will take your mobile photos from good to great, showing you how to capture memories and make art at your fingertips.

So, if you want to start taking better photos on your phone and make every shot count, follow these tips and tricks.

1. Capture the unscripted

Don’t underestimate the allure of candid photography. It’s not just about snapping away; it’s observing and anticipating that unguarded laugh or thoughtful gaze. Aim to be discreet and patient, allowing natural scenes to unfold before you click. These spontaneous captures often reveal a depth of story and emotion that posed shots might miss, making them standout pieces in any collection.

Phone photography with a grid up and a beautiful dirt road. Person using the rule of thirds

2. Learn the rule of thirds

To add depth to your photos, activate the gridlines in your camera settings. The overlay of horizontal and vertical lines on your screen helps you apply the rule of thirds: a compositional technique that places subjects along these lines or intersections for an engaging effect. An off-center subject can lend dynamism to an otherwise static scene.

3. Seek unique reflections

Reflections aren’t mere duplications—they’re opportunities for creativity within your compositions. Search out less obvious reflective surfaces like rain-soaked streets or architectural glass facades, offering unique lighting conditions and visual twists that captivate viewers’ attention far beyond conventional shots.

Person taking a well-focused close up photo of a flower on their phone

4. Fine-tune your focus

Autofocus is handy, but taking manual control lets you tell richer stories through your images. Whether highlighting a dewdrop against leafy backdrops or isolating street performers amidst urban chaos, tapping where you want crystal clarity is a subtle tip that yields transformative shots. This small step draws viewers’ eyes exactly where you intend, crafting photos with intentionality behind every pixel.

5. Embrace the abstract

If you have a photographic tendency to capture complete head-to-toe scenes 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. Use negative space effectively

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, and it frames focal points by providing contrast and context for impactful imagery. Play around using vast skies above landscapes to add serenity or shadow-laden alleys, creating tension around subjects. A mindful approach utilizing negative space turns empty spaces into powerful storytelling elements, allowing you to take better iPhone photos with simple shifts in your vantage point.

7. Shoot with burst mode

For those fleeting moments that pass in a flash—kids at play, pets on the move, or action-packed scenes—use your phone’s burst mode. This feature takes several shots per second, increasing your chances of nailing that perfect shot with sharp focus and just the right expression or pose. Reviewing a sequence lets you choose the best from an array of images where /timing is everything.

8. Look for leading lines

Leading lines aren’t just part of the scenery. They’re powerful compositional tools that guide your viewer’s journey through the image. Look for natural guides like walkways, fences, or architectural features, as these leading lines draw the eye deeper into a photo and create a sense of movement and depth.

9. Keep a clean lens

The simplest truth holds: A clean lens is key to clear photos. Without a cap to protect it, your phone’s lens is vulnerable to everyday smudges and dust—a quick wipe with a soft cloth before shooting ensures you start with impeccable clarity rather than relying on post-production fixes that might not recover every detail.

Cool street photography on a smartphone. Photographer is playing with patterns

10. Play with patterns

Our world abounds with patterns. When you spot them, they provide rhythm and structure in photographs. From manufactured designs like brickwork or textiles to natural views like leaves or waves, capturing repetition draws viewers in by creating familiar yet mesmerizing visuals.

11. Zero in on details

It’s natural to want to get everything in a single shot, but that means you risk missing out on smaller details that can make photos compelling. Intricacies overlooked at first glance become central characters under scrutiny. So, once you’ve got your landscape shot, consider what finer elements warrant their own stage—a shift from breadth to depth that often yields truly captivating imagery.

12. Use flash sparingly

Your camera’s flash isn’t always your friend, especially at night when its harsh light can flatten scenes and strip away a photo’s subtlety. In a dark setting, the flash alters colors and creates overexposed images, making the subjects look unnatural. But when used judiciously, even in daylight settings, it can lift shadows and add dimension back into well-lit subjects, giving nuanced results without the pitfalls inherent after dark.

13. Welcome symmetry

Symmetry, a cornerstone of compelling compositions, naturally draws us in. When you find or create symmetry in your photography, whether by splitting an image down the middle or aligning elements horizontally, you produce photos that exude harmony and balance. This technique works wonders for both natural landscapes and urban architecture—anywhere you can mirror elements to captivate the viewer.

14. Stabilize your shots

Sharpness is critical for high-quality photos, and stability is its faithful ally. Even slight movements can blur an image in low-light conditions or when capturing long exposures. Use stable surfaces like walls or tables to support your arms. Or better yet, invest in a tripod designed for mobile phones to ensure crisp images every time you shoot.

15. Shoot using the volume adjuster

Ditch the screen tap for sharper shots by using your phone’s volume button as a shutter release. This simple phone photography tip reduces camera shake significantly, particularly when shooting one-handed or reaching for tricky angles. Like a traditional camera, it gives you more control and stability, leading to clearer images without extra effort. It can also be an effective shooting technique when using burst mode.

16. Experiment with exposure

Exposure shapes the lightness or darkness of your photos and sets the mood. Play around by manually adjusting exposure on your smartphone. Brighten up shadows to reveal hidden details or darken highlights for silhouettes and drama. Finding a balance between light and dark can transform an ordinary scene into something extraordinary.

Sunset getting photographed on a mobile phone. Photographer is shooting in the golden hour

17. Harness the golden hour

The golden hour—shortly after sunrise or before sunset—is photography’s open secret for stunning natural lighting effects. It offers soft, diffused light that flatters subjects, enveloping them in warm hues ideal for shooting portraits, landscapes, and cityscapes. Make it a point to venture out during these peak times and capture the magic inherent in Earth’s most flattering spotlight.

18. Optimize portrait mode

Portrait mode isn’t just about blurring backgrounds. It’s about making subjects pop against softly defocused surroundings, drawing viewers’ eyes straight to the main focal points. Today’s smartphones have smart algorithms that differentiate between subject and background, providing DSLR-like results. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of this feature and emphasize who or what truly matters within each frame.

19. Enhance colors selectively

Colors have tremendous power. They can change an image’s mood and direct our attention. With editing apps at your fingertips, selectively amplify vibrant hues that demand notice or tone down others for added subtlety. This targeted approach ensures certain elements stand out, making your images more striking and memorable.

20. Capture the essence of motion

Your smartphone is a powerful tool for portraying movement in captivating ways. Utilize slow-motion to dramatize fast action, or switch to time-lapse to condense hours into seconds, showcasing the bustling pace of life or the serene progress of clouds across a sky. These features give you creative control over how motion unfolds within your visual storytelling.

21. Incorporate foreground interest

To give depth and context to sweeping vistas, include intriguing foreground elements, like rocks etched with patterns by the sea, close-ups of swaying wildflowers against vast backdrops, or architectural details framing urban expanses. This approach adds layers and creates three-dimensional scenes that draw viewers to journey through photos as they explore every plane.

22. Use selective focus for artistic impact

Selective focus is a powerful tool to draw attention exactly where you want it. You can take better phone photographs rich with artistic flair by focusing on just one detail—a droplet on a petal, the texture of aged wood—and letting the rest fade into a soft blur. This technique highlights the beauty in simplicity and guides viewers’ eyes through your visual story.

23. Time your shots for natural expressions

In portrait photography, timing is everything when capturing authentic expressions. Wait for those unguarded moments—when laughter erupts or thoughtful gazes emerge—for images that resonate with genuine emotion. Quietly observing your subjects helps you anticipate these fleeting expressions, allowing you to freeze them forever in time.

Cityscape from below being photographed on a phone. Photographer is using different perspectives

24. Shoot from different perspectives

Changing your viewpoint can drastically alter how you perceive an image’s subject matter. Shooting from down low makes even the most mundane objects monumental. Conversely, high vantage points shrink vast landscapes into understandable patterns. Shooting from different perspectives results in unique narratives compared to typical eye-level shots, inviting viewers to rethink familiar scenes anew.

25. Mind the horizon line

A skewed horizon line can unsettle an otherwise serene landscape shot. Use your camera’s built-in level or edit post-shot to ensure straight horizons, lending balance and stability to outdoor scenes. This small detail maintains order within nature’s vastness and keeps viewers grounded in reality.

26. Use overlays for composition

Beyond the rule of thirds, explore compositional guides like the golden ratio or diagonal lines available in some camera apps. These overlays can inspire you to arrange your photo’s elements in fresh and visually appealing ways. They push traditional framing aside, allowing for spontaneous and well-structured compositions.

27. Photograph during weather changes

Weather transitions bring about some of the most captivating lighting conditions. Be ready to capture these moments, whether it’s a storm clearing up or fog drifting in, as they provide unique atmospheric effects that add moodiness and drama to your shots. Such times offer fleeting opportunities to photograph landscapes under extraordinary light.

28. Emphasize scale in landscapes

Adding a familiar object or person within vast scenes gives viewers a sense of scale, amplifying the grandeur before them. Whether it’s a tiny figure against towering mountains or a lone tree amidst an expansive desert, these reference points help convey the majesty of nature’s canvas.

29. Capture contrasts

Seek out contrasts—old versus new structures or bright spots amid shadowy areas to create visual tension within your scene. These striking differences draw attention and encourage deeper contemplation of the story behind what might otherwise be ordinary elements when viewed alone.

30. Motion blur for dynamic effect

Motion blur adds a sense of speed and vitality to your photos. It’s particularly effective for scenes with movement, such as busy streets, sports events, or action shots. Adjusting the shutter speed on your iPhone or phone camera lets you capture both motion and stillness, creating an engaging, dynamic effect within the frame.

Editing a photo on a phone

31. Expect to edit

Even when you’ve framed your shot and set your focus, the photo might not be what you had in mind. That’s what photo editing tools are for! Whether tweaking brightness, adjusting contrast, or cropping for better composition, post-production is where good photos become great. It allows you to refine what you’ve captured so that your final image truly resonates with its intended purpose and audience.

32. Review and learn from your photos

Set aside time to go over your photos with a critical eye. Look for patterns in what works and what doesn’t, paying attention to elements like composition, lighting, and subject matter. Use these sessions as learning opportunities. Every image has a lesson to inform and improve future photography endeavors.

33. Share and collaborate

Engage with a community of photographers by sharing your work. Constructive feedback is invaluable; it pushes you out of your comfort zone and introduces new techniques or perspectives you might not have considered. Collaboration is the key to growth in any art form. It’s how we learn, adapt, and ultimately refine our craft together.

From phone captures to photo books

In a world where we have our smartphones practically glued to our hands, we often forget the satisfaction of holding physical copies of our photographs. Transforming your digital snapshots into beautifully bound photo books not only preserves them more permanently but also gives you an actual object to share and enjoy with others.

The leap from ordinary to extraordinary isn’t as vast as it might seem when taking photos with your phone. It’s all about knowing how best to use the powerful camera that lives in your pocket. Understanding light, composition, and color can turn simple shots into stunning visual stories.

With this handful of simple phone photography tips, you can elevate your images and capture what you see and how you feel about what’s in front of your lens. So, let this journey be both instructional and inspiring. By honing these skills, you’ll soon have enough captivating images for social media and other creative applications, like travel books and family photo albums.


Blurb is a print-on-demand service that helps turn your digital masterpieces into high-quality books that last a lifetime. With user-friendly design tools and a range of customizable options, Blurb makes it easy to bring the stories behind your images to life. Sign up to get started.

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