Tips for Smartphone Photography

Last Updated on January 23, 2022

Smartphone Photography and Editing Tips

Tips for Smartphone Photography

Smartphone & iPhone

Would you buy a phone worth $500 or $1000 and never use it to the fullest? You do that exactly, isn’t it? You never use your phone to the fullest, forgetting that it has a highly developed camera of its own.

You can travel without a camera these days and do landscapes, street, food, lifestyle, and portrait easily with smartphones. Don’t you need high-end cameras for photography, you may wonder! Well, not until you are going to have large prints.

And some of the modern-day mobile phones carry pretty powerful cameras on their own, even in terms of MegaPixels and large printability.

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Tips for Smartphone Photography

Learn more: Phone Photography Tricks Course

Some of the ideas to consider while shooting on a smartphone make use of the available features while understanding the limitations and not trying too hard. Some of the factors are below:

Do Not Zoom In

Unless there is an optical zoom, one must never zoom, whether it is a digital camera or a mobile phone. Remember, digital zoom is equivalent to cropping the image. The issues with digital zoom are multiple.

  • The shake in the image is directly proportional to the digital zoom
  • The photos are digitally enlarged to maintain the size in some of the cameras. This results in softer pictures.

Move-in Closer and Shoot

  • Move-in closer and shoot. Treat your smartphone as a camera with a prime lens
  • Crop the images later. This gives more leeway while quality is not compromised
  • Have one of the smartphones with two or more cameras of different focal lengths, which allow for the optical zoom

Tips for Smartphone Photography

Further Reading: Smartphone Photography Courses

Use the Grid on the Camera App

Use the grid in the smartphone is even more critical than in the DSLRs. DSLRs provide us with scope to do corrections later, including the perspective and distortion corrections. The straightening of the images is absolutely no problem at all.

In smartphone cameras, every pixel becomes more important, and hence you don’t want to lose them for these common issues which can be fixed while shooting. Also, you won’t usually get the proper lens parameters like the DSLRs do that allow for lens corrections.

How to use the grid on Smartphone Camera

  • Make sure the horizon is properly straight and matched with either the 2nd or the 1st horizontal line in the rule of thirds grid
  • Make sure the angles that you choose are straight. Unless you are sure of the creative angles, try to keep the horizon straight and don’t have converging parallel lines like those of high-rise buildings
  • The grid also helps in better framing so that you can reduce wastage of pixels while cropping

Tips for Smartphone Photography

Go Close

Photography becomes more straightforward when you can go close to the subjects and offer an unparalleled view. Focusing on details and filling the frame makes it easier to focus on the subject. It brings a natural depth of field into play, making certain parts of the frame naturally blurred out.

Ultimate Smartphone Close-up and Macro Guide

The macro mode of phone camera especially allows us to go really close. Going close will enable us to explore an almost inter-personal angle where we find details as well as a very shallow depth of field.

The language of macro photography is beautiful when explored carefully, and smartphones make it much easier to shoot macro as compared to DSLRs because of the extra cost required. A great tool to use while shooting portraits, food, or even some products, going close brings out the best of the phone camera.

Tips for Smartphone Photography

Go Wide – Smartphone Camera

Precisely the opposite side of the spectrum, going wide allows one to have a pleasing view if appropriately used. Think of all the landscapes and city-scapes and how they leave us wide-eyed with wonder, quite literally.

Also, the ability to use negative space properly will come in handy when going wide, especially when shooting portraits and landscapes.

Remember using the grids while shooting with negative space, and you will have better compositions every time. You must remember the good old rule of thirds; major subjects must be placed near one of the four points of intersection when a frame is divided into nine equal parts using two pairs of parallel lines.

The rule is especially more useful while shooting from a smartphone camera.

Tips for Smartphone Photography

Look Into the Eye

Well, not literally, but looking into the eye is general advice for shooting portraits. Unless you are sure of why you are shooting a top angle or a bottom angle, or some other different angle, it is best to shoot from the eye level of the subject. It is difficult to go through all the photos where the kids are shot from a top angle, and puppies are shot from a drone (or so it seems).

Getting down to the eye level of the subject lets us interact with the subject up close, and have the most essential part of any portrait, the eyes and the lips, speak. It also works in terms of shooting buildings; wherein, we need to maintain comfortable distance and try to shoot from almost straight on, which helps us make the architecture talk.

Unless we want to break this rule, which is very brave and creative and also allows us to use the wide-angle distortion of the smartphone camera creatively.

Tips for Smartphone Photography

Smartphone Photography – Edit it Well 

Editing a picture doesn’t mean taking away the natural look of the photograph. In fact, it is straightforward to increase the contrast and saturation sliders, or the HDR preset, and have a unique picture in front of you. Editing an image correctly involves getting the colour tones correct.

Remember, colour correction comes before colour toning. So to give the tone properly, in case you wish to, you first need to correct it. Snapseed provides with a brilliant White Balance tool in Tools menu. There’s one dropper/sampler icon there which is for manual selection of white balance.

We need to use that more often and select the non-coloured portions of the image. For example, the eyes of the humans, white walls of a building, etc., are generally without any tone.

In case it doesn’t work well, auto white balance is a great tool. Or you could manually adjust using temperature and tint, just like you would do in high-end images shot using DSLR.

Snapseed Photo Editing Course Screenshot_Snapseed_Visit

Smartphone Editing and Filters

There are styles which may be used, but better avoided for a natural look. They are like VSCO filters. What you would like to use is the tune image, details, and curves menu. Tuning allows you to adjust exposure, contrast, colours, highlights, and shadows.

Exposure helps in correcting any exposure errors, contrast gives the image a punch, details help in enhancing the texture, colours can be either over-saturated or desaturated, highlights help in getting the details from or burning the details from the lighter parts of the image and shadows help in getting the details from or darkening the details from the darker parts of the picture. Curves menu does the same thing as contrast, albeit with greater and more varied control.

Smartphone photography clubs, contests and exhibitions are not a rarity anymore. Also, we have our smartphones everywhere, and we can not miss a scene because of this amazing beast, only if we put a little more effort in hitting the shutter.


  1. Keep the lens clean
  2. Do not Zoom in
  3. Use the grids
  4. Go Close
  5. Don’t add fake blur
  6. Go Wide
  7. Use VSCO
  8. Focus your images
  9. Adjust the exposure
  10. Look for patterns and lines
  11. With good lighting comes great images
  12. Know the tools
  13. Get as close as possible
  14. Don’t use the flash
  15. Treat it like serious photography
  16. Use composition techniques
  17. Align the images right
  18. Use the correct editing tools
  19. Counter the shutter lag
  20. Invest in a good tripod
  21. HDR mode
  22. Edit your photos
  23. Use Lightroom Mobile
  24. Use burst mode
  25. Keep the background simple
  26. Portrait mode for some compositions
  27. Understand the light
  28. Use Snapseed
  29. Use the correct shooting height and angle
  30. Understand the limitations

Further Readings: