Smartphone photography tips for beginners

 

If you’re looking for smartphone photography tips for beginners (or photography in general), these next few minutes will point you in the right direction.

Smartphone manufacturers try to make the process of taking photographs, as easy as possible with their camera apps. Usually, it’s just a case of point and shoot.

But, what if you want something more than just a snapshot? I guess you do, or you wouldn’t be here now 🙂

Smartphone photography tips for beginners

Here’s 7 of my favourite tips if you’re just starting out in smartphone photography.

Clean your lens

You’d be surprised how many times I people just starting out in smartphone photography say, “My photos are never sharp”, or “Why are my images always blurry?”

And often, it’s because your smartphone is usually kept in your pocket, or in your bag. And your fingerprints and dirt get on the lens.

Try to make a habit, of wiping the lens every time you go to use your smartphone’s camera. This is probably the most important smartphone photography tips for beginners (and often, seasoned photographers).

So, just take your phone out of your pocket and clean the lens before you take a photo. A microfibre cloth is ideal, but if you don’t have one handy, your t-shirt will do.

 

Use two hands

Most smartphone cameras today have some form of image stabilisation built-in. But most often, it’s just an algorithm that adds sharpening to the image.  However, if your image gets over-sharpened, you’re left with an image that appears to be sharp, but is usually very ‘grainy’, or pixelated around all the edges of the subject(s).

On some smartphone cameras, automatic sharpening can be turned off. But regardless, keeping your smartphone camera still, is very important.

So, hold your smartphone as if it were a ‘proper’ camera. Use two hands to stabilise your phone. Especially in low-light, or outdoor situations. Tucking your elbows in, or leaning against something, helps stabilise you even more.

 

Take loads of photos

When you’re just starting out in smartphone photography, the more images you take, the better you’ll become at noticing what you like (providing you look  at the images critically). You can never take too many images, even if you delete 99% of them afterwards.

It’s always better to take 10 shots and delete 9 later, rather than take 1, then find out it’s not sharp when you view it later on your computer.

 

Try every built-in mode your smartphone camera has

Every smartphone camera will have a bunch of different pre-built modes for you to use.

Most built-in smartphone camera apps will have modes like:

  • Pro Camera
  • Night Sots
  • Panorama
  • Macro
  • HDR
  • Light Painting
  • Monochrome
  • and more.

Try them all. Try them in the situations they were designed for, and some that they weren’t. You can sometimes get some dramatic effects.

Experiment with everything until you find what works for you.

 

Practice composition

Good composition is, in my opinion, one of the 3 most important aspects of photography (The other 2 being ‘the subject’ and ‘the light’).

The rules of composition, should really be called the ‘accepted’ rules of composition. Because often the most dramatic images come when these rules are broken. But, you still have to understand what they are first.

2 good composition rules to start with, are…

 

Get low (or high)

Shooting up at the subjectProvided it’s not raining (unless you’ve got a change of clothes), try lying on the ground and shooting up at your subject. Or get above the subject, then try shooting down onto it. Changing your perspective can often provide a completely different and sometimes unexpected result.

Try shooting images from both aspects and different angles. You’ll often be surprised by the results.

 

Use a tripod

Joby GorillapodNow clearly, your choice of subject is going to determine which type of tripod you decide to use.

If you enjoy portrait photography, you’ll most likely need something you can use while you’re standing. If you prefer macro, or close-up photography, a simple desktop tripod will be more than adequate.

I mainly use my Joby GorillaPod, which retails for around £40. But, I bought it when I was using my dSLRs. You can pick up something almost as good for your smartphone, for around £10-15. If that’s too much money at the moment, small articulated tripods are available on ebay for around £6-7.

If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a tripod you can use, a smartphone holder for it can be as little as £3.

 

Bonus tip

As a bonus, there’s one more thing you should consider, that can make a huge difference to the quality of your images..

Buy a smartphone remote shutter trigger

The shutter trigger for your smartphone camera is usually a software button on the screen. And it’s great for taking selfies. Not so good for taking actual photographs though 🙁

Remote shutterYou can usually fire the shutter with the volume button. Or use the button on the standard wired earbuds for your smartphone. But, in my opinion, one of the best investments you can make in the beginning, is a bluetooth trigger. And you can pick up a perfectly adequate model for less than a tenner on Amazon, or eBay.

The issue with using either the screen based button, or the volume control is the same. You’re introducing movement onto the camera. And movement, especially if you’re taking a close-up shot, can prevent the image being sharp.

Using a Bluetooth trigger completely removes that problem.

 

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. 7 simple, yet important tips, for anyone just starting out in smartphone photography.

I’ve listed them in the order of importance as I see it. You may disagree?

Please, leave any thoughts you have, or anything you’d add this list in the comments.

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Steve

 

 

 

*prices correct March 2022

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