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You *Can* Take Amazing Photos on Your Smartphone

You *Can* Take Amazing Photos on Your Smartphone

It’s 2020, and the built-in cameras on our phones are now exceptionally good. Gone are the days of flip phones and blurry images. With technology like portrait mode, low-light image capture, and the best lenses to date, phones these days really are a photographer’s best, or at least handiest, friend. Working in content marketing as a photographer and designer, I’ve been watching in amazement as the camera quality on our phones has rapidly risen over the years. Now, just about everyone has the ability to take beautiful, high-quality photos with just the tap of a phone screen.

Photography is about capturing a moment. That’s what’s so amazing about the handheld technology of today’s camera phones. We now have the ability to capture any moment with a device that we constantly have with us. Why not use this power to create dramatically stunning memories?  Here are some tips on how to create the most amazing images, no matter what smartphone you have.

I like making sure something is happening in every square. When photographing a subject, align it with one of the dividing lines to make it a bit off-center. In the image on the right, I aligned the subject with the left line so it had more room to look “off into the distance”.
Change Up Your Framing

How you frame an image can drastically change a photo depending on the visual story you’re trying to tell. One of the first things you learn in any photography class is the Rule of Thirds. Basically, you want to try and create a dynamic photo by sectioning your frame into nine squares. If you always place your subject straight in the center of your image, try skewing it to the side a bit and see what a huge difference it makes. You can even add grid lines to your camera to help you line up frames according to the rule of thirds.

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If you look closely, you see that the natural light gets muddled the more you zoom in and the background gets more grainy.
Avoid Zooming-In

The cameras on our phones may be getting better, but most are not equipped with a telephoto lens. When you zoom in on your smartphone, you’re not technically zooming in. On most smartphones, it’s an effect that makes it look like you’re zooming-in, but in actuality, you’re just blowing up the image and cropping it. That’s why you’ll notice your images become fuzzy and pixellated the more you “zoom” — you’re losing resolution on your photos. Obviously, if you’re in the nose-bleed section at your favorite concert, you’re going to zoom that baby in for the memory, but for your day-to-day photos, refrain from zooming in on your subjects to keep the resolution clear.

Take a few seconds to physically stop and snap a photo. It makes a big difference when you’re snapping the O’Hare Airport’s Christmas decor — the photo on the right, for example, was taken while I ran to my gate à la Home Alone.
Steady Does it

Another unperfected aspect of the smartphone camera is the sensitivity to movement, especially in dark or dimly lit settings. The trick to creating high-quality smartphone photos is to keep the camera incredibly still when taking an image. Even the slightest of movement can make your photo fuzzy and out of focus. A good practice is to always brace your phone against something, like a table or chair, to keep it steady. You can also invest in a small tripod to help steady your shot.

Lighting is Key

The smallest changes in lighting can take your photo from bland to dynamic in an instant. Play around with lighting in your photos. A lot of the photos I have on my phone are of beautiful sunsets or neon lighting because it’s what my eye is drawn to. If you’re trying to look your best in natural lighting, the “golden hour” that occurs when the sun rises or sets creates a beautifully soft, warm light that is super flattering and generally lauded as the best time to take photos. Natural sunlight during the rest of the day can be too intense and create harsh lighting and shadows on your subject that is not usually ideal.

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Pardon my face and the disco ball, but this is a study on how vastly different a subject can look in photos when only the lighting is changed.
Additional Lighting Can Make or Break You

Put simply, flash is not your friend. Smartphone camera flashes are still lightyears away from the quality of a professional flash. But we can’t completely forego any lighting when capturing a scene in dim or minimal lighting. In these instances, you have a few options: 1) You can buy a light that attaches to your phone. There are so many versions of lights made specifically for smartphones, and it’s a quick way to get better lighting in a dim setting without using the bright flash on your phone. 2) You can shoot without flash in low lighting, BUT you have to keep the phone very still for this. You can get some awesome ambient lighting shots in low light without flash. 3) You can use our favorite option here at Konnect and recruit a friend to shine the flashlight on their phones at the subject while you take the picture. It’s a cheap and easy hack to get better lighting over the built-in flash.

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Edit or Filter Your Photos to Your Heart’s Content

Editing and filtering can take your photos from pretty good to amazing with the right touch. You can easily change the coloring, brighten up a dark photo and Facetune yourself until you’re unrecognizable. Most smartphones have their own built-in editing features, but there are also tons of apps on the market that can jazz up your images. Editing and filtering can also make it easy to create a uniform feel on your Instagram feed. Play around with editing until you find a style you like. Once you nail that down, you can create similar edits in multiple photos, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an influencer.

Once You Know the Rules, There are No Rules

The fun thing about photography is that it’s such a vast medium. I’m always guilty of stopping on the street wherever I am to take a photo of something that catches my eye. I also love to create blurs in images just to see what effect I get. Follow these “rules” when you want, and completely disregard them when it suits you. The important thing is to get to know your camera phone. Whether you’re using your phone to take images for social media marketing or just to capture memories, I hope these tips help you capture the moment perfectly.

Happy Capturing!

-Alyssa Hitchcock

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