When the camera was invented over a century ago, owning one was sign of status and luxury. Now, the digitalization of photography has made it possible for everyone to capture their most important moments with a smart phone. Experts estimate almost two billion images get uploaded to the internet on a daily basis.1 Photography is the way we communicate to others what’s going on in our lives. From landmark moments like engagements and birth announcements to fun Friday nights out with your friends, our photos tell our stories.
Don’t you want your story to be clear, well edited, enticing and memorable? Here are seven ways to improve the photographs you take with your cellphone.
1. Manually Choose Your Focal Point
The lens on your phone will default to a medium point to keep as much of the frame in focus as possible. But what if you want a more shallow depth of field for a more dramatic photograph? Tap your finger on the point in the foreground you want the most focus on. Alternatively, you can select the background to have the foreground appear blurry and the background to be sharp and in focus.
2. Take Control of Your Exposure
When you manually choose your focal point, you may see an adjustment in brightness on the screen. This is a reflection of the change in exposure, or how much light the lens is allowing in. Your phone will adjust this automatically depending on the point of focus you chose. However, depending on the framing, this technique could overexpose some areas of the photograph, white-washing the details out. Solve this by adjusting the exposure manually. On an iPhone, once you set the focal point, you can tap and swipe up and down to increase or decrease the exposure. For Androids, you can adjust it in your settings.
3. Use Burst Mode for Sports and High-Movement Shots
When you tap and hold the shutter button, you’ll activate burst mode. This option will capture several continuous photos in rapid succession, allowing you to get amazing action shots in high-speed or active situations. This way, you’ll capture the precise moment you want (even if you have to sort through a bunch of throw-away shots in the process).
4. Utilize the Volume Buttons
The advanced sensitivity of the camera in the latest phones is fantastic when you want to capture every detail. It also makes it that much harder to avoid a blurry photo when you’re trying to balance your device and tap the shutter button. Instead, hold the edges of the phone and use either volume button the way you would on a traditional camera. This allows you to have a more stable grip and take a clear picture on the first try.
5. Use Your Headphones as a Remote Shutter Release
You found the perfect shot but you need to prop up your phone at a weird angle or use a tripod, neither of which are ideal for reaching the screen shutter button or the volume buttons. Use your headphones as a remote shutter release! Plug in your headphones as you normally would, then use the volume buttons as described in tip four. This will give you an extra couple feet of room to capture those perfect shots without compromising the stability of your phone.
6. Get Comfortable With the Rule of Thirds
Ever wonder why there are thin grid lines on your camera screen? Those are to help you compose your picture so that it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The most common composition guideline in photography is the rule of thirds. This rule suggests that a photo is more interesting when the subject straddles an imaginary line that divides the photograph into thirds (horizontally or vertically) because it creates a balance. Think about photos with the subject dead center and another where they are slightly off to the side. Which one is more pleasing? Not every shot you frame will fit into the rule of thirds, so use it as more of a guideline.
7. When in Doubt, Wipe Your Lens
Your phone is everywhere you go: in your pocket, in your purse, at the gym, facedown on a table. It’s also one area of your hardware that most cellphone cases do not protect, so it’s very likely that your lens gets smudged. A dirty lens can cause blurry or distorted photos, so make sure to wipe it down with a microfiber cleaning cloth on a regular basis for the best clarity.