5 Tips to Take Better Phone Photos

By Lisa Reid, Photographer at Picture This Studios.

This article was published in the June issue of the Camana Bay Times and can be viewed here.

Do you ever get picture envy when scrolling through Instagram? The average person takes anything between 3 and 10 pictures per day on their mobile phone – that is over 2000 pictures per year, but how many of those are really post or print worthy? While not everyone is destined to become a professional photographer, there are some simple tricks that can help you transform your pictures instantly…

  1. Keep Your Photos Simple

New photographers often overcomplicate their photos by trying to make it interesting with lots of details. But too many details distract the viewer and make it hard to achieve a simple and impactful composition. To keep your images simple, first look at the background and then your subject! Scan your scene for any distracting elements and then move closer or change your viewpoint to remove unwanted objects from your photo and give your subject all the focus.  

2. Embrace Negative Space 

Negative space is a photography term that refers to the empty space around your subject in your photo, like the sky, a wall or an empty beach. When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and it makes your picture more impactful. Using the landscape rather than the portrait orientation can assist in creating a better negative space-to-subject ratio. 

3. Don’t Centre Your Subjects

We always get taught to place things nicely in the middle. However, in photography, positioning your subject off-centre actually creates a more balanced and harmonious composition, which is referred to as “the rule of thirds”. One of the easiest and best ways to achieve this on your mobile phone is to turn on your camera’s gridlines, which superimposes a series of lines on the screen. Based on the rule of thirds, if you place your subject on the intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.

4. Straighten Your Horizon Line

Living in the Cayman Islands, we naturally take a gazillion beach, ocean and sunset photos. Many of us (including myself!) struggle to keep their cameras perfectly straight, often leaving you with a crooked horizon or badly aligned lines in what is otherwise a beautiful photo. Simply use your straightening tool in your editing mode to straighten your horizon and create clean lines to achieve the optimal visual balance in your photos.

5. Don’t Over-Edit

Editing is great and can certainly enhance your images significantly. However, with so many different editing apps available, many phone photographers tend to over-edit their pictures. Whether it’s over-saturating the colours, using strong filters or super-smoothing skin tones – it can leave your pictures looking fake or dated. Using your phone editing mode just brightening the image, adding some contrast and reducing the highlights is enough to make your pictures “pop”, while maintaining a natural and timeless look. 


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