Modern smartphones have had a major impact on the photography market as a lot are now capable of producing images just as good, or even better, than basic compact cameras. If a compact is all you wanted to use for your travels, why not upgrade your smartphone and have one less item to pack?
When you couple this improved technology with the hundreds of apps that are available which are designed to help you be more creative and take better photos, it's easy to see why there's a growing admiration for this form of photography.
As most people now carry a smartphone that has a camera built in we thought we'd put a list of ten tips together to help you improve your shots taken with cameras built into mobile phones, for those situations when you want a good shot and all you happen to have is your phone.
Think Of It As A Camera
Holding your phone in one hand and trying to press the shutter button will only result in blurry, wonky shots. Holding your phone with two hands quite close to your body will mean your phone is much more stable and as a result, your images will be better. A lot of modern smartphones now have dedicated shutter buttons to help you capture photos easily, and some even have the ability to take a photo from a squeeze of the sides, like the HTC U11.
Having your arms tucked close to your sides and standing as still as possible will stop any blur caused by movement from spoiling your shot. Don't move your phone away as soon as you've clicked your shutter button either as shutter lag can mean your camera's still processing the shot so you'll end up with a blurry photo of another part of the scene rather than the person or object you want a photo of. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9 have OIS built-in, to help combat this too.
Many companies are now producing lenses and supports for iPhones and other mobile phones which can help enhance and improve your mobile phone photos. One example is the USB Fever Super 20x Macro Lens which offers a magnification of 20x.
Zoom With Your Feet
If your camera phone doesn't have an optical zoom use your feet to move you closer to your subject rather than using the digital zoom which can lower the quality of the shot.
You'll be relying on natural light most of the time so get outside, when possible, and set up near windows or patio doors when working inside. If you need to turn a few lights on, do watch the colour cast they create. You can tweak the white balance on some phones or there are apps available which you can do this with too. Some also give you exposure compensation options so you can brighten or darken your shot. It's worth checking your settings, which we'll cover next, to find out exactly what your phone's camera can and can't do. Most modern phones pride themselves on having good low light capabilities, many of which use apertures of f/2 or wider to maximise light entering the lens.
Be careful where you position yourself when shooting outdoors as shooting in the direction of the sun can result in flare, although some people like the effect and it can actually work quite well with some shots. As well as having too much light in your shot too little can result in grainy shots where not much detail can be seen.
Check Your Settings
Go into your camera's settings and make sure that you camera is primed for the shot. Are there different scene modes to choose from? Experiment to find the right one. A lot of mobiles offer 'pro' or 'advanced' modes, allowing you to change the ISO and shutter speed, white balance etc manually, and experienced photographers will find this useful to personalise images. You may also find there are various shooting modes on offer as well as presets such as night, panorama and portrait mode all designed to help you take the best shot possible.
It's quite easy to take a shot where a finger or thumb is covering the lens so watch where you position your hands. As phones are put in pockets and carried around in bags they get dusty easily and due to us handling them a lot they get covered in greasy fingerprints quite quickly too so make sure you keep your lens clean and check it before you take any shots.
Try Different Angles
Working with a phone generally gives you more flexibility than a camera that's on a tripod so make the most of this freedom by varying your shooting angle and trying new shots. People don't always know you're taking a picture when you're holding your phone either, making them good for quick street candids. This doesn't mean you can take photos in places that say you can't though, you still have to obey the rules.
Don't Forget About Post Production
Using a phone to take photos with isn't an excuse for not correcting wonky horizons or adjusting the brightness levels in a shot. You can edit your photos with apps on your phone but the screen is a little small so don't overlook transferring them to your computer so you can edit on a larger screen.
Experiment With Apps
There's no excuse for not experimenting with your phone photography as the many apps that are available mean you can colour pop photos, add frames, create film effects... the list goes on. There's also apps out there that offer you shooting advice in the palm of your hand so if you want to brush up on your wedding photography while out and about, for example, you can. Some apps you have to pay for but there's also many free apps available which are just as good.