5 easy steps to taking better photos on your phone

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Not so long ago cameras were a forgotten feature thrown onto cellphones. The pictures were low resolution and served little purpose. With the birth of smartphones, cameras have become an important feature with hundreds of apps available to play with.

But first you have to know the basics to great phone photography. Now that the phone is a go-to camera for taking photos, the more you know about your camera phone and its capabilities and limitations, the less likely you’ll be disappointed.

Here are five tips that will help you get more from your smartphone camera:

• The first tip is the most basic. It’s one fundamental that every professional photographer knows. You can’t get good pictures if your lens is dirty. Use a clean dry cloth, preferably a chamois, to wipe the lens clean before taking any pictures. Try to keep from carrying your phone where it can get banged and scratched. Use a protective cover if possible.

• It is very easy to take out-of-focus pictures with little phones because they’re hard to keep still. This is also true of small point-n-shoot cameras. You need to hold the camera as still as possible even under ideal circumstances. If you can brace yourself or your hands and hold steady it makes the picture better. Take multiple frames of each situation. You may think that a picture is in focus, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.

• You need to take control of each photographic situation. Don’t have your subject stand in front of a window and expect the tiny flash on a camera phone to overpower natural light. Position yourself so the window is at your back and the light is flowing in on your subject and turn the flash off. You don’t need it. This is also true if you are shooting an object. If the light is bad move the object to a better location with good light.

• You need to get close to your subject. This is one of the biggest mistakes that amateur photographers make. Smartphones come equipped with a wide-angle lens on the camera so get up close to the subject. Robert Capa, the award-winning war photographer once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

• One of the most important tips is have fun. The more you enjoy taking pictures with your phone’s camera, the more likely you are to use it and the more you use it, the better your pictures will become.

You can download many apps for free, others for a few dollars. Some apps give you borders, some allow you to crop, straighten, sharpen, tint and just about anything else that soothes your creative soul. All the photos in this gallery were shot with an Apple 4 iPhone. I used a free version of the Photoshop Express app to create the frame around the photographs, as well as Pro HDR. Both apps are available on iPhone and Android.

How about you? Share your phone photography tips and questions in the comments below.

Also see: Reader SunShots: Cellphone pictures

Got a question about photography? Email our Director of Photography Robert K. Hamilton. We’ll address the most curious and poignant in upcoming posts.