3 Tips to Improve Your Phone Photography

So you love photography, but don’t have the latest camera gear. Or maybe you just want to make sure that you capture those important family moments without Granny or Grandad's head, arms or legs being cut out of the photo. Don’t worry, I'm here to help you go from zero to hero. If a mobile phone camera is all that you have access to, this is not a problem at all. You can still create stunning, Instagram worthy photographs.

Let's get started! Here’s my exclusive list of beginner's tips to help you on your way.

1. Use The Grid

Composition is key. This means that where your subject is placed within the frame is important when creating scroll-stopping images. For this tip, you will need to ensure you have a ‘grid’ appearing when you open up your camera.

The 'Grid' shown within the camera on an iPhone.

The grid's not appearing? Don't panic. If you are an iPhone user you need to go into ‘Settings’, scroll down to ‘Camera’, and then turn on ‘Grid’. Android users need to go into their camera, press the ‘Settings’ icon in the top right corner, scroll down to ‘Grid Line’, and tap to select the ‘3 x 3’ option.

Now that you’re all set-up and raring to go, you need to know how to use this grid. One technique you can use is the rule of thirds. This is when important parts of the image, i.e. the subject, are placed on any one of the grid lines or placed directly at the spots where the lines intersect: the points of interest. These are the areas where people’s eyes are naturally drawn to when looking at an image, making it feel more natural and satisfying for the audience to look at.

2. Let There Be Light!

The word ‘photography; comes from the Greek words for ‘light’ and ‘drawing’, meaning that taking a photo is quite literally the process of drawing with light. With this in mind, it means that the lighting is the most important part of the procedure, so it is definitely a factor you need to consider when creating your images.

Light sources come in various shapes and sizes. They can be a lamp, a window, or even the sun. No matter what your light source is, where it is placed is what’s important. I personally recommend ensuring that it is behind and slightly to the side of you (roughly at a 45-degree angle). Traditionally, this set-up is called Rembrandt Lighting. Using this means that the subject will be well-lit and any shadows created won’t be too unflattering. When you're taking the photo, make sure as the photographer, you aren't blocking out any of that important light. Otherwise, you'll create nasty shadows in the picture.

Extra tip: if you’re photographing someone outside and the sun is too bright, give them some sunglasses to wear or reposition so that the sun is even further round to the side, but still out of the frame. This means that they won’t be squinting in the final image.

3. Edit with Apps

Now that you’ve got your image, it’s time to edit! Editing involves adjusting different elements of the photo to change its appearance. This can involve lots of changes or just a few small alterations.

There are hundreds of apps out there that you can use. My personal favourite is Adobe Lightroom, which is free to download and most features are free to use. Otherwise, VSCO and Instagram are both great, free alternatives that come with preset filters for you to use.

Adobe Lightroom

All of these apps are relatively easy to work with, using sliders to manipulate the image. Editing with sliders gives you great control over how strong or weak you want the different settings to be. Here's my advice. If the photograph is too dark, boost the exposure. Increase the contrast to make the image pop. Adjust the saturation levels to reduce or amplify the colour levels. However, the most important part of the editing process is that you experiment with all of the different settings to find your own unique style.

And there we have it! Three tips that will help you to create more interesting and successful images that your Instagram followers and Facebook friends will love! Give these tips a try and share your final images with me over on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.