How To Take Better Photos With Your Phone – Part 1

How to take better photos with your phone | Tips from a professional photographer

When I launched my 52 Project this year, some of my readers asked about whether it’s possible to take ‘good enough’ photos with their phone. Phone cameras have so many great features today, and it is definitely possible to take some really nice photos with them.

There are so many features on phone cameras these days that it would be impossible to cover them all in one post, so today I’m starting with the 3 I think will have the biggest impact on your photos. I’ll cover more features in future posts.

All of the photos in this post are taken with my iPhone 6. For each tip you’ll also find an explanation on how to achieve the same result with a Samsung phone. Got another type of phone? Let me know and I’ll do some research and update this post with the relevant information.


Tip 1: Don’t Zoom

The first thing to do for better phone photos is to stop using the zoom. Using the zoom is one of the big reasons you’ll end up with blurry phone photos. The zoom on our phones is a digital zoom, which means that it basically takes the whole picture, crops it, and blows the cropped part up to full size. This results in grainy images.

If at all possible, move closer to the subject so you don’t need to zoom. If you really can’t get close enough then take the photo without zooming, and crop it afterwards.

Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this point. The first one I zoomed all the way in, the second one I moved closer to the flowers and used no zoom. Hopefully you can see that the photo using the zoom is much less crisp, and much more grainy.

How to take better photos with your phone | Tips from a professional photographer


Tip 2: Find Your Focus

Just like a ‘real’ camera, your phone camera has the ability to focus on your subject and, depending on how near or far the subject is to the background it can also make the background nice and blurry.

On an iPhone press and hold down on the part of the screen where you want to focus, until ‘AF Lock’ pops up (see the image below.) This means that the camera is now focussed on that part of the image. If your subject is far enough away from the background it will also give you a blurry background.

To focus on a certain part of the image with a Samsung phone you can use a feature called ‘Selective Focus.’ This tutorial explains how to use it.

How to take better photos with your phone | Tips from a professional photographer

Tip 3: Control The Exposure

Very simply, exposure controls how light or dark your image will appear. It’s very easy to control this on a phone camera.

On an iPhone tap the screen at the point where your subject is. You’ll notice that the exposure of the image changes so that this point is better lit. You’ll also see that a box with a sunshine symbol next to it appears. On Samsung phones do the same thing and a lightbulb symbol appears. Drag the little sun or lightbulb up and down to change your exposure. You’ll see your photo become lighter and darker as you do this. Once you have the exposure you’re looking for take your photo.

What other questions do you have about using your phone camera? Let me know in the comments below, or over on my Facebook page.

Picture of Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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