Tips & Tricks

How to take your smartphone pictures to the next level

All the pictures that I post on Instagram and in every single blog post come from my i-Phone.

I don’t own fancy, expensive DSLR cameras. I used to own a Canon Mark II with two optical lenses that cost me about $2,500 dollars. I had to lug it everywhere I went – the bulk always on my mind as a heavy and expensive accessory. If I was a professional photographer, owning an expensive piece of equipment would totally make sense, but as an amateur photo taker, I just don’t see the point for such a large investment. Especially with smartphones nowadays are getting better and better.

In the U.S.A. you don’t have to worry about carrying pricey cameras around as much. Venture out anywhere else and it’s a whole another story. For example, my friend’s boyfriend got beat up pretty badly for his camera in the backstreets of Paris. He ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw. I am not saying it will happen, I am just saying that if you are running around with something expensive worth stealing, the chances are that you are more than likely going to be targeted for it.

But enough of horror stories. Here are some tips to take your OK smartphone photos and turn them into something extraordinary.


1 Composition

If you want your pictures to pop and stand out, adding texture to the photo with foreground or background will do the trick. Think flowers at the bottom frame of the picture, reflection of a lake or fluffy clouds at the top. If you don’t have flowers readily available, try to add yourself or your buddy into the picture.

For background textures, try high definition, sharp front objects, and a blurry background.

2 Timing

The best time to shoot photos is sunrise or sunset. If those times are not available to you, make sure your photos are not overexposed or too light. You can do that in your camera app by clicking anywhere within the photo frame and adjusting the light with your finger up and down.

3 Accessories

Anyone can point and shoot a photo on their phone. If you want to take your photos a bit further and make them look polished and professional, accessories are your friend.

Zoom lenses are nothing new in the world of smartphones, but good ones are hard to come by. I love the ones from MOMENT.

Also a good, easily foldable, and durable tripod is a must for a slow shutter, beautifully flowing water picture.

4 Apps

Photo editors are a dime and dozen. It took me a few years to narrow them down to what works best for me. The ones I use the most are Quickshot, Afterlight, and Photoshop. For Photoshop, I use the app version since its less pricey, and also less confusing and complicated for first time users.

If you want to take your pictures even further, try camera apps that have far more reaching photo options than your standard phone camera.

My favorites are ProCamera and Camera+2. They cost $8.99 and $4.99 respectively with additional in app purchases.

ProCamera is great for features such as rapid fire, anti-shake, saving your photos in various exposure modes, or to save your photos with the highest possible resolution in TIFF format.

Camera+2 is great for slow shutter photos (You will definitely need a tripod for this one). Your hand, even if you think you are holding it perfectly still, will shake, and the photos will come out blurry and useless.

5 Keep learning

Even the best professional started as a novice. Keep learning, experimenting, watching other people who are already great in their field (Instagram is a great tool for this), tinkering with the different modes and options.  Don’t be afraid to mess up. The beauty of today’s technology is that we are not limited to 25 picture rolls of film.

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