Phonetography: How to Take Better Photos With Your Smartphone


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While having a full-fledged DSLR does help in taking great photos, it’s not really necessary. As the world-renowned photographer Chase Jarvis once said (or continues to say), “The best camera is the one you have with you.” He means that anyone can take amazing pictures with any type of snapper, as long as they’re willing to be creative and resourceful.

One camera we always have with us is our smartphone. And they’re not just for selfies and Instagram photos of good food. Here’s how you can take beautiful portraits and capture the breathtaking essence of landscapes with just your iPhone.

Composition is King

While a sharp and colorful photo is great to look at, it’ll become boring or jarring if your subject is awkwardly placed in the picture, or if you don’t have a subject at all. This is where composition comes in. Composition is the arrangement of elements in a picture. It’s used in various forms of visual art, from sketching to filmmaking.

One way to improve your photos’ composition is by turning on the grid on your phone’s camera app. For the iOS devices, you can find it in Settings>Photos & Camera> and switch on the “Grid” option. For Android, it depends on where your manufacturer programs it to be. It’s mostly on the “settings” window of your camera app. When you open your smartphone camera, you’ll be greeted with four lines segmenting your screen into 9 parts. Try to place your subject to where these lines intersect and you’re guaranteed to have much more interesting photos.

This practice is called “the rule of thirds.” According to the Digital Photography School, viewers’ eyes often wander to the sides where the intersections are,  rather than the center. As such, it’s a much more natural way of seeing a photo. Test this on different subjects, like your friends, your pets, or even inanimate objects.

The Sun is Your Friend


If you want to take nice portraits on your phone, you need to get some sun. Indoor photos often come out dark and grainy, even with your lights on. Step out of the house or office, find an open space with lots of sunlight and snap away. If you’re not feeling like going outside, pop a window open and let some natural light in before you take a selfie. Just remember to never go against the light, or you’ll look like a specter.

If you want to upgrade your portrait game further, try to time your shoots during the golden hour. This term is used to describe the period just after sunrise or before sunset, where the sun shines a soft, golden, glow on everything it touches. This timeframe is also great for taking landscape shots of the mountains in Layton city, as the peaks reflect the beautiful golden light.

Take Care of Your Hardware

If you find that your photos are starting to look blurry or smudgy, give your phone’s camera window a quick wipe with a soft cloth. This gets rid of moisture or any debris the glass may have on its surface. If your phone still doesn’t focus correctly, it may have scratches on the camera or the mechanism is broken. In this case, you need to get your phone repaired as soon as possible.

To prevent scratches, don’t settle your phone on rough surfaces and keep your it away from your pant or bag pocket that has metal objects that may damage the camera window, like coins or your keys. Take care of your hardware, and you’ll be rewarded with sharp and vibrant images with every shot.

Smartphone photography is becoming more and more popular as today’s units get closer to taking professional camera quality images. However, the beauty of a photo still relies on the person taking it. Take these tips into consideration and you could become the next mobile photography award winner.

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