How to Take Better Smartphone Photos

By now, you’ve probably said goodbye to the days of carrying around cumbersome and expensive cameras and equipment.  As mobile devices continue to consolidate existing technologies, one thing we can all agree on is that your smartphone’s camera is likely one of your most used applications.

The incorporation of HD capabilities in smartphone cameras have steamrolled the consumer-facing photography industry and, for better or for worse, allowed the typical user to capture, what appear to be (ie on mobile devices, websites, and social media platforms), near perfect quality images.

If you’re a company using a smartphone as your main camera and showcasing that brand content on social channels, there are definitely some rules you want to follow to create the best images, and by doing so, accurately reflect your brand aesthetic while also drawing in your desired customers.    

Here’s a crash course in capturing great images on your smartphone:  

1.  It’s all about the light

We can’t stress this enough.  Light is the key to everything in photography.  Too much light and your photo is overexposed, too little and it’s like looking into a dark cave.  By nature, smartphone lenses are small, therefore they let in very little light.  For better results, try taking the photo outside, or at the very least, inside a well lit room.  If you’re capturing something outside, be careful of lens flare and always keep the sun out of the picture frame.  In following these simple lighting tips, you’ll be on your way to capturing brighter, more engaging photos.  

2. Don't be a square

Even on Instagram, a square image is not always best.  Take advantage of the new ability to post rectangular photos.  In doing so, you’ll be able to capture so much more in the photo and get a lot more creative with its composition.

3. Invest in a good editing platform

We’re not saying go out and buy photoshop, but there are simple, free applications, that allow you to easily edit content.  The key word here is edit.  Editing is different than applying a filter.  Don’t apply a filter to your photo.  We repeat: don’t apply a filter to your photo.  Often times filters unnecessarily darken, lighten, and blur images, and, unless you’re selecting the same filter every time, the aesthetic of your feed will be all over the place.  We recommend vsco cam.  Within this app, you can adjust sharpness, skin tone, clarity, exposure, etc without overdoing it.  Which leads us to our next point…

A few other great photo editing apps: Afterlight, Snapseed, and Camera+.

4.  Don’t get carried away with editing

Yes, editing is an important step in making your photos pop, but too much of anything isn’t good.  Strive to make your photos stand the test of time by showcasing only bright, crystal clear content.  It’s just as important to keep a similar color scheme throughout your feed to make sure you are developing strong brand continuity.

5.  Don’t worry about using the flash

Trust us, your smartphone’s tiny flash isn’t lighting up anything, it’s just making your image worse.  Stick to the rules of number 1 and you’ll be fine.  

6. Take multiple photos

Take advantage of the technology in your hands.  Most smartphones have a tremendous amount of storage space so feel free to take as many pictures as you need until you get the right one.  To capture the perfect moment, take a burst of photos and then delete the rest.  Always remember to use technology to your advantage.

7. Don’t overthink it

You’ve seen great photography before.  Pick a site for inspiration/stock photos for inspiration and keep things simple.  If you’re engaged in what you’re photographing, chances are your audience will be as well.

If you have any additional tips to share, please feel free to comment below!