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How to Take Good Photos With Your Phone: 25 Tips & Tricks – Part 1

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.

rule-of-thirds.jpg

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.”

gridlines.jpg

Source: Lynda.com

2. Set your camera’s focus.

Today’s phone cameras automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to sharpen the view.

If you’re taking a photo of something in motion, for example, it can be difficult for your camera to follow this subject and refocus as needed. Tap the screen to correct your phone camera’s focus just before snapping the picture to ensure the moving subject has as much focus as possible. A square or circular icon should then appear on your camera screen, shifting the focus of your shot to all of the content inside that icon.

3. 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.

focus-on-one-subject.pngfocused-food-shot.png

Source: Patrick Janelle

4. 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.

negative-space.pngembrace-negative-space.png

Source: Eric Christian

5. 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.

interesting-perspectives.jpgbookshelf-perspective.png

Source: iPhone Photography SchoolPaul Octavious

6. 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.

capture-reflections.pngplaying-with-reflections.png

Source: Joshua LottCarlos Copertone

7. 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 circular — 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.

leading-lines-path.pngleading-lines-spiral-staircase.png

Source: Carlos CopertonePaul Octavious

8. 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 as photographer Eric Christian did in the first photo below.

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

symmetry.pngsymmetrical-stairs.png

Source: Eric ChristianCarlos Copertone

9. 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 colours. 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.

symmetry-in-buildings.pngsoup-pattern.png

Source: Patrick Janelle

10. Play around with colour 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 favourites is Touch Color — an app that automatically converts a picture to grayscale and lets you fill in the parts you want to colourize.

Colour 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 colour blocking, the photo’s other elements remain intact for a cohesive image.

Grayscaled photo taken on mobile camera with color blocking to reveal purple flower in woman's hand

Source: Coloring Pages 

 

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