Tips for great photos with your phone camera

If you have ever wondered why your pictures aren’t professional-grade then read on and discover just how easy it is to get stunning results with your device using these smartphone photography tips.

Crop don’t zoom

This is one of the best smartphone camera tips. When you use a digital zoom on a camera phone the images degrades quickly as the camera guesses what’s there.

It is far better to crop the image instead as cameras with a resolution of 8 megapixels and above capture more pixels than can be seen on the display or even on a PC screen. Cropping will bring these hidden pixels into focus and you will have a close-up result containing original and not guessed pixels.

Manage lens flare

Lens flare created by a strong light or more often the sun can be either utilised or eliminated if you know how. You can use lens flare to create an eye-catching effect with the longest flares achieved by putting the sun near the edge of the frame.

However if you want to avoid lens flare and purple fringing then you can cup your hand around the lens, thus creating your own lens hood which cuts down the amount of light entering from the side of the frame.

Know when and when not to use HDR mode

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is simply the ratio of dark to light in a photograph and it is without a doubt the biggest cause of poor results. HDR mode brings out the visible details in the shadows and most smartphone cameras give you the option to pick between the normal or HDR result if HDR mode is turned on.

HDR mode works by taking several photos (usually 2 or 3) at different exposure levels and then it merges these to make one image that looks more like what the eyes see.

You should use HDR mode for:

  • Landscapes – These images usually have high contrast between the land and sky and this can mean that details in the land are under exposed and lose their detail.
  • Portraits in sunlight – Too much lighting on the face can cause dark shadows, glare or unflattering characteristics and HDR mode will balance the result for you.
  • Low-light scenes with bright elements – Here HDR mode overcomes the result where for example the flames from a campfire are exposed correctly but then the remaining low-lit areas of the scene are too dark to distinguish.

You shouldn’t use HDR mode for:

  • Pictures with movement – HDR mode takes a second or so to capture several images so if there is movement in the frame then this will blur the result and cause ghosting.
  • When you want high-contrast – HDR mode can make dark silhouette shadows less intense when these could be used to create an stunning effect.
  • Highly-coloured scenes – When scenes are too dark or light, HDR mode can bring colour back but when vivid colours are already in the scene HDR mode will wash these out.

Download more advanced smartphone photography apps

If your phone’s camera has limited features then you can download a camera app like Google Camera or Snapseed. These give you much more control over the results and instead of using the same old filters on Instagram that everyone else does, you can develop your own style.

Even free photo apps will give you high-end features for correcting camera tilt, blurring backgrounds and adjusting everything from the ambiance to the saturation levels.

Shoot without the flash

Most flashes just don’t work! LED flashes can throw out a lot of light but they ruin the colour temperature giving unnatural blurry results with red-devil eye effects. Instead look for another light source like when the spotlights at concert light the crowd for you. Ultimately though you may have to accept that a bad photo is better than no photo.

Clean your lens

Camera phone lenses are durable so you can wipe them clean or even wipe them on your shirt. If you use a lens cleaner then you may be surprised at just how hazy and dark your photos have become as less light is being let in.


Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) helps a lot here but for the best results don’t hold your camera phone with stretched out arms as this increases the movement of the camera. Instead keep your elbows pinned to your sides or better still rest the camera smartphone on a solid object.

Get to know your smartphone camera

We hope these camera tips and tricks help you to improve your photographic skills and remember to get to know your phone snapper so that you are prepared to capture those fleeting special moments that may occur only once.