How To Shoot Good Photos With A Smartphone

Up your smartphone photography game.

PHOTO Tracy Cheng

Many people tend to think that to create good photographs, you must have top-notch camera gear. While having professional equipment may be useful in some cases, most of the time, having a good photo all falls down to having a good eye and maybe some post-processing. With the quality of camera phones getting better and better these days, it’s not hard to shoot gorgeous photos anywhere!

Below are some tips to up your smartphone photography game!

1. Simplicity is key.

When you are shooting a picture, you are essentially telling a story in a small amount of space; as such, you will need a subject. The camera will capture everything you tell it to, and the viewer will be very confused if the picture is cluttered with many different things to focus on. As such, simplicity is key to a great image.

2. Use natural light.

Flash should be avoided if possible, and natural (sunlight) should be used to light subjects. The only exception to this rule is if the subject is standing directly in front of the sun, in which case the subject will be backlit; to avoid this problem, either ensure the sunlight is lighting the subject (and not behind the subject), or if absolutely necessary, use the flash to light the subject.

3. Follow the Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds is a composition ‘rule’ in photography where your image is divided into a grid consisting of two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, all evenly spaced out.  Your subject(s) should be near or within the intersection of the grid lines so that your photo will come out well-balanced and pleasing to the eye.

4.  Ask for permission.

It is often best to ask for permission prior to capturing local people while traveling. Many times, people are happy to oblige, and an added bonus is that the person will be looking at the camera which creates a better photo than the person trying to avoid the camera!

5. Avoid placing the subject in the middle.

While tempting for beginner photographers, a photo (following the rule of thirds, of course) that has a subject placed away from the center creates a much more compelling image.

6. Avoid using the zoom.

When taking photos at a distance, it may be tempting to zoom in closer to the subject to capture it at a closer distance.  However, smartphones are still not professional cameras, and zooming in results in the photo being more grainy, blurry, and losing out on quality in general.  Instead of using the zoom, play around with the perspectives and/or composition of the image, or walk closer to the subject if possible.

7. Capturing different details/perspective.

This tip is especially useful for tourist attractions that have been shot over and over again; look around your surroundings and see how you can capture the setting differently than everyone else.  Some tips include paying attention to small detail of a construction, or even tilting the angle of your phone differently to get a different perspective.

8. Create abstracts.

The best way to create an abstract image is looking for small details and focusing on them to shoot, without revealing the entire picture and/or landscape that you are shooting from.  This creates a more ‘artsy’ image and has the viewer wanting more.

9. Filters!

The best part about smartphone photography is the ease of post-processing that comes with the phone.  Sometimes a photo that is taken in its natural form doesn’t create as much of a ‘pop’ until filters or post-processing enhancement is performed on the photo. Play around with them and use them to your advantage!

10. Break the rules.

Photography is not a science, but an art-form.  With all types of art-form, while there are ‘rules’ that you can follow, breaking the rules can create an image that stands out!

Tracy Cheng

Contributor, JST SHOP Vendor

Tracy loves photography and documenting her travels. She has lived in Hong Kong, London, Toronto and Los Angeles, and has a piece of her heart in each city.

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