11 Smartphone Photography Tricks of the Trade
You need some updated smartphone photography tips.
Mobile photography is a quickly growing industry. So, it’s no longer as simple as point and shoot with your iPhone to get hundreds of likes on Instagram.
Today, you have serious competition if you want to stand out as a smartphone photographer. After all, today it’s easier and less expensive to take DSLR quality photos than you may think.
As a result, we decided that you need smartphone photography tricks to improve your skills.
Defining a Smartphone Photography Trick of the Trade
At this point, even your dad can competently snap selfies and capture panoramas on his phone. That’s a result of new phone camera technology.
So, if you want to be relevant in a world of competent phone photographers and standout in a world of great ones, you have to have some smartphone photography hacks up your sleeves.
Yes, that means everything selfie dad isn’t using.
Smartphone Photography 101 versus Smartphone Photography Tips of the Trade
There are a set of specific staple rules within the photography business that everyone adheres to – things like the rule of thirds and the golden/blue hour.
While these are necessary photography knowledge, they aren’t smartphone photography hacks.
So, for this post, they’ll be considered smartphone photography 101 and will not be included.
The Eleven Best Smartphone Photography Tricks of the Trade
The results you get may seem like cheating, but these tricks were created for a reason – to make your phone photos better!
So, you might as well use them. Employ them all, or choose just a few – the choice is yours!
These smartphone photography tricks will make your photos pop and make your social media content stand out in a time when everyone is trying to. You owe it to your follower count to keep reading.
Smartphone Photography Tip #1 – Learn Your Phone’s Specific Features
So, go figure – each brand of smartphone has its own unique features.
While every new phone is going to have a grid, a flash, and an exposure feature, some allow more or less control. We’ve already broken down the best phone cameras here.
Do your research regarding what it is your phone photography requires before investing hundreds of dollars on a new smartphone. You’ll find some good reads below as far as what each option offers.
This research can be the difference between slightly above average and mind-bending photos, so don’t take it lightly.
Smartphone Photography Tip #2 – Always Go With the Grid-Mode
Using the grid when taking photos will always make them better.
Have you ever heard of the rule of thirds?
It’s so much easier to make sure everything in your photos is in the right place with the grid.
Not to mention, by utilizing the grid, you can more naturally see how the eye gets drawn through the photo.
It’s a win-win. And, you’re not adding any extra steps to your photo taking process. Give grid mode a try and see if your photo composition doesn’t improve dramatically.
Smartphone Photography Tip #3 – Manual Mode is a Must
Exposure is a fancy way of saying how much light is being allowed into the lens when the photo is taken. ISO means something too.
Look, there are lots of photography terms relevant to manual photography but we’ve already done some writing we’ve already done on the subject.
The point here is that some phones allow you to manually adjust everything – from exposure to ISO. That’s a nifty feature to have in your tool belt when you’re competing with DSLR and mirrorless.
Even phones that don’t allow manual shooting usually have an auto-exposure control feature that does pretty well. Even if your phone doesn’t, you can always adjust everything when photo editing.
While this isn’t the preferable method, adjusting exposure while editing is better than having an over or underexposed photo.
Messing with exposure and learning the pros and cons of under and overexposing will teach you how to do some experimental things in your photos.
Things that’ll undoubtedly help you stand out from the pack.
Smartphone Photography Tip #4 – Finding Good Lighting versus Manufacturing Your Own
So, if you’re following the age-old adage of only doing photo shoots during the golden and blue hour, then these smartphone photography tricks of the trade won’t apply to you.
If, on the other hand, you struggle to drag yourself out of bed early in the morning or you work until the sun goes down, then you’re options are limited.
Sometimes it’s a struggle to get good lighting. But obviously, your phone’s camera has a flash!
Don’t ever use it.
There are other ways to get good lighting! Taking photos indoors, for instance, allows natural shadows to occur. You can try to obstruct or to divert the light for your own means too.
If you insist on shooting outdoors during the heat of the day, then use a top-class phone camera lens filter. The lens filter will act like sunglasses for your phone camera lens and give you optimal lighting when the sun isn’t cooperating.
Smartphone Photography Tip # 5 – Don’t Zoom – Just Get Close and Focus!
So, you may be under the impression that zooming doesn’t compromise the integrity of the photo’s pixels.
If this is the case, then you’re woefully mistaken.
There are differences between digital and optical zoom – they can be explored here – and when you try to enhance a zoomed image, problems arise.
Just do yourself a favor – crouch down and get all up in your subjects’ business.
You also always have the option of cropping your photo when editing. It’s better to zoom at this point if you have to.
If you feel that you still need the benefits of zooming, then do some reading on macro and telephoto lenses. You may find that one of these camera phone lenses solves your problem.
Smartphone Photography Tip #6 – Get Yourself Some of 2020s Best Smartphone Accessories
So, you’ve invested in a new smartphone with a dope camera. You’re ready to get out there and take some photos.
Now you’re reading that you need extra gear first? Not cool, man.
You don’t need gear to be an above-average smartphone photographer. In fact, it may even be better to start with just the phone to develop your skills.
Like Keith Richards, guitarist for the Rolling Stones, argues it’s better to start with inferior equipment and learn to make it work. Then when someone hands you something great, you – yourself – are talented enough to use it.
Smartphone Photography Tip #7 – Take Lots of Photos and Do Loads of Photo Editing
It may seem an obvious strategy, but merely taking loads of photos increases the likelihood that a great one comes out.
With the new editing tools available for smartphones, you should also do lots of image manipulation.
You can turn average images into mind-boggling ones with some practice – you may even do it by accident.
So, this strategy seems kind of like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks, right?
By practicing both photographing and editing, you’ll subconsciously be learning and developing your personal skills and style.
Smartphone Photography Tip #8 – Shoot in RAW
So, what’s RAW?
Well, a RAW file, in layman’s terms, is a super-dense file containing extra information on your photo. This additional information allows you extra editing power over your image.
So, it’s pretty easy to see why shooting in RAW would have its advantages, right?
Yes, there’s more to it when it comes to shooting in RAW – read more here – but the gist is, do it and be amazed at how your photo editing improves.
Smartphone Photography Tip #9 – Edit Photos Well (but be unique!)
So, you may think that using Adobe for your photo editing needs is to your advantage. But, we’re here to tell you that your logic might be flawed.
Think about it, if you want to stand out in a world where 90% of people use Adobe, then wouldn’t your first step be to find something different?
Well, we won’t go that far. But we will tell you to at least consider the other options. There are a litany of easier to use options that give you features that Photoshop does not.
To get you acquainted with some of the free user-friendly options available to you, give this a read.
Smartphone Photography Tip #10 – Share Your Work (Or, No One Will Know Your Talents)
If Chris Burkard never shared his work, then we wouldn’t know who he is.
While you’re probably not going to have his level of success regardless of how much of your work you share, it’s worth saying – people have to see your work to know your work.
Sharing photos is key – clients have to see your phone photography to want to hire you, right?
So, make social media pages, post to Youtube, and communicate with your competition. If you can share it, then it should be shared. But, a little less high-quality content is better than a lot of crappy content. Learn about some photo sharing options you may not of known about here.
Remember, no one will know you or your smartphone photography unless you do!
Smartphone Photography Tip #11 – Find Out What Kind of Smartphone Photographer You Are
So, what do you like to photograph?
Chances are, we’ve got a guide specifically for it.
- Macro photography
- Plant photography
- Architecture photography
- Underwater photography
- Portrait photography
- Action photography
- Food photography
- Travel photography
- Landscape photography
- Roadtrip photography
- Stock photography
- Wedding photography
- City photography
- Product photography
- Long-exposure photography
- Low-light photography
Focusing on one niche of photography will help you to become a master. If you must, find a few types of photography that naturally go together to expand the reach of your work.
Do note, this list is not exhaustive. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.
Maybe we’ll make a guide for it.