How to take great photos with your phone

Joel Upton

Gone are the days when you need a fancy camera to take a great photo. A couple of taps on the device that’s in your pocket can produce high-quality images. My hope is that I can arm you with a few tips to encourage you to get the most out of your smartphone. Equipping you to share great images will help you tell the story of what God is doing where you are right now.

5 tips and tricks for taking great photos with your phone

1. Make sure your lens is clean

This one might sound funny but I’ve pulled my phone out of my pocket many times to take a picture of my kid only to find there is a massive smudge across the image – the inevitable result of my phone being bounced around in my pocket all day! A quick check and wipe with your t-shirt and away you go.

2. Keep your shots simple

Try and focus on one subject and make sure that there is a good deal of negative space around it. This will make your subject stand out and give you a more compelling photo. But what is negative space? Negative space refers to the areas around the subject of an image. It can be the sky, an empty field or a large wall – but make sure it’s free from other things to look at. 

A good rule of thumb is to have two-thirds negative space. To help with this your phone will have a setting where you can turn on gridlines. This is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to improve your smartphone photos and helps you keep to the ‘rule of thirds’.

3. Get to know your phone’s camera features

This one follows on from the last tip. While every phone will vary, they all have features that change how your phone takes a picture. Get to know these features and how they change your photos.

Don’t rely on your phone’s auto-focus. Instead, tap the screen where you want to focus and the phone will sharpen that part of the picture. This especially helps when there isn’t an obvious subject.

Your phone will allow you to pinch and zoom in but it’s best to avoid doing this as it’s just a digital zoom so the photo will appear grainy and pixelated. If your phone has an optical zoom then it’s fine to use that. If not, simply move closer to the subject so that you maintain a high-quality image. While on the subject of resolution, make sure your camera resolution settings are set as high as they can go.

Play around with the editing tools your phone comes with. Adjust lighting and contrast with a simple slider but avoid any heavy filters!

4. Take note of lighting

Take advantage of natural light and avoid using a flash. You often can’t pick the time of day you’ll be out and about but you can be mindful of working with the light around you. Move around your subject to make the most of the light you have. Remember that lighting determines not only the brightness and darkness but also the mood, tone and atmosphere of the photo.

5. Have fun and take lots of photos!

Shoot as much and as often as you can. The more shots you take, the more you’ll learn from your experience and the better you’ll get. Try different angles, lighting and settings to see what works.

Finally, to be sure all your hard work isn’t lost, make sure you send your pictures by email or a cloud sharing service. WhatsApp and other social platforms cut the resolution so it’ll appear fuzzy when viewed outside of the app.

Want to take your camera skills to the next step?

Read this guide on how to make great videos using your phone.

Read now

Joel Upton

Joel runs Crosslinks' social channels and creates videos and online media to help connect you with our people and projects. He lives in Sussex with his wife, Alexa, and their four children.