With the event world’s plentiful photo opportunities, it’s no wonder that the best camera is the one you always have with you: your smartphone! Become a phone camera pro with our top 10 tips for getting the most out of your photos (and be sure to share your best shots with us).
1. Clean your lens regularly
It’s so simple it seems obvious, but how often do you really think about wiping the camera lens of your phone? A quick clean can make a noticeable difference in the clarity and color quality of your photos. Using a microfiber cloth or Q-tip is best as lenses are fragile and can become scratched easily.
2. Use two hands
Bye-bye blurry photos! Using both hands to stabilize your phone will reduce the blur, producing sharper images. Hold the phone with one hand and gently press the shutter button (the button you use to take the photo on the screen) with the thumb of your other hand. Your phone doesn’t actually take the photo until you take your thumb off the shutter button.
Hint for iPhone users: Besides the shutter button on the screen, you can also use the volume buttons to take photos.
3. Focus your photos
There’s a handy trick you can use to make sure your photos are always focused precisely on the area you want. Simply tap on the screen in the camera viewer to adjust the focus of your photo. Whatever area of the screen you tap will be the area the camera focuses upon.
Hint for iPhone users: You can also screen tap to adjust the exposure (brightness/darkness level) of your photos. Tap the screen once and a small sun icon will appear. Then slide your thumb in an upward direction on the screen to brighten up your photo, or downward to reduce the brightness. Do this after you have the focus the way you want it. This is very handy for bumping up the light in photos that look too dark, or toning down the exposure of photos that are too bright.
4. Light is key
The right kind of natural light can work magic for your photos.
Lighting to avoid: Harsh, direct light on faces, as this creates unflattering shadows. An example of this is mid-afternoon on a sunny day. In addition, make sure the light source isn’t behind your subject (unless you’re going for a silhouette effect), because this will darken your subject to the point where much of the detail gets lost.
Ideal lighting: If it’s a cloudy day, you’re in luck! This is the type of light your camera phone handles best. If it’s not cloudy, a bright patch of shade can work wonders. However, beware of patchy shade (like shadows cast from trees) that will cause your subject to look like it’s patterned with shadow instead of getting nice, even lighting. The lighting during sunrise and sunset will also make your photos sing!
5. Use the grid to compose your shots
For iPhone users, you can turn on the grid by going to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid.
The best photo isn’t always one where the subject is smack dab in the middle of the frame. While that can work well in some scenarios, generally, you want important elements of your photo to fall on a cross section of the horizontal and vertical lines that make up the grid, or within one (or multiple, depending on the scene) of the nine boxes. The horizon line should usually fall on one of the horizontal lines. Composing your photo really depends on the scene itself. For instance, if you’re capturing a photo with a beautiful sky, you’ll probably want the horizon to fall on the lower horizontal line, that way you get more of that gorgeous sky in your photo.
6. Just say no to the zoom and flash
The greater the zoom, the more diminished the sharpness of your photo will be. If you want to get a closer shot of your subject, instead, physically move yourself closer or crop the photo later. Also, turn the flash off (phones usually default to auto), and turn HDR on. Camera phone flashes aren’t the greatest, so it’s best to use natural light whenever possible. HDR gives your photos an extra boost by capturing greater detail in the bright and dark areas, which is excellent for shots taken in natural light as well as low light. However, it’s not so great for action shots, so you’ll probably want to turn HDR off for that.
7. Give it some thought
Getting a great shot is all about taking in the scene and knowing where to stand or position yourself as the photographer. Pay attention to that; don’t simply take a snapshot and walk away. Look at the image on your screen and do a quick evaluation of what could be better. Most of the time, all you need to do is adjust your position. You’d be surprised what stepping two feet back, a foot to the side, or squatting down can do.
Hint: The best way to position yourself depends on what kind of photo you’re going for. For example, if you want a shot of your subject without background distractions, get up close and personal; fill the frame with your subject. If there are interesting elements in the scene you want to include, remember to use the grid to compose your shot.
8. Look for new and exciting angles
Step outside the typical snapshot. Be creative and have fun! Experiment and don’t be afraid to take lots of photos (you can always delete the ones you don’t want later).
9. Adjust the brightness/contrast and saturation
After you’ve captured an awesome shot, this simple step will make you even happier with your photo. Don’t think about filters yet (you may just ditch them). Take thirty seconds to play with the brightness/contrast and saturation. Smartphones usually come equipped with the option to do this in their photo editing menu, but there are also some great apps available. Though my personal favorite is Afterlight, the most popular photo editing app is VSCO (which is free).
living in a world that’s been thrown off its axis is generally not a good thing.
10. Be social, share your photos!
Smartphones make it easy to post your photos directly from your phone to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This is a really fun way to share your best shots with your friends, family, and your event community. Or course, remember to use your event’s hashtags when you do!
We can’t wait to see your fantastic photos! Happy photographing!