girl taking a photo in a rear view mirror on a car in black and white
Intentionality,  Photography

Take Better Cellphone Photographs Right Now + Freebie

Raise your Internet hands if you have a cellphone. Good, let’s talk about taking better cellphone photographs. Cellphone photography has gone leaps and bounds in the last decade, so let us not waste the beautiful amounts of technology we hold in our hands. I have a set of super easy tips and then some bonus advanced tips on how to ensure you’re taking the best cellphone photos ever!

I know there are links on links on links out in the world all about taking amazing cellphone photos out there for you to read, but I recently gave a presentation to the Pilsen Skylighters 4-H Club in Kewaunee County on this topic so I thought I would also share with you!

The other reason I wanted to share these tips on cellphone photography is that everyone should have the knowledge on how to share their lives through images. Photography tells your specific story from your specific point of view, let’s make sure when someone 1,000 years from now finds our Google Photos accounts, they have not just a good story, but a beautiful one to see!

I hope everyone looks like this when they take photos!

Beginner Cellphone Photography Tips

  • Clean the Lens: Take a clean cloth or your shirt and just wipe off the dirt and smudges, you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference! I find this to be a good reminder to take the phone case off and clean up the whole phone and screen!
  • Set the Focus: When pointing your phone at your next subject, just tap on the screen where your main focal point should be. This will ensure you are clearly defining the most important part of the photograph you’re taking. It will set the focus and then you can snap the photo!
  • Adjust the Exposure: When you do the “focus tap,” a lightbulb or sun should pop up at the bottom of the screen. You can select that and move it left or right to quickly to brighten or darken the photo you are taking. This is great for low-light areas!

On these photos below, with just a few taps, I changed the exposure to “blown out” to “too dark.” Changing exposure can truly make your photos unique!

If you have a flip phone, I know you can do the first tip, so I apologize about the rest!

Now, I’m going to share more “advanced” cellphone photography tips that you can consider implementing when shooting and editing.

woman holding dslr nikon camera in one hand
DSLR not required for the below tips! This is all about the cellphones!

Advanced Cellphone Photography Tips

  • Rule of Thirds: The rule of thirds is a simple dissection of your screen into nine equal squares. You can imagine where the lines will intersect, or you can go into your phone settings and make the gridlines appear all the time. The idea is that your subject (people’s eyes, horizons, plants, food, etc.) should appear along the lines and where they intersect, as the human eye naturally looks at photos this way. Below is an example. Having the gridlines on your phone will really help you follow the rule of thirds all the time. BUT, rules are made to be broken! Feel free to be creative!
The calves heads are right on that top grid line. You can also put horizons on the lines or singular subjects.
  • Zooming and Cropping: When it comes to zooming and cropping, I would officially like to advise you NOT to do it. Zooming on a cellphone will give your photo grain and distort the true look of the photograph. If you can walk closer to your subject, do that instead. If you want to crop a photo, do so with care. Try and stay away from it, but if you must, do not crop on human joints like elbows, wrists and knees. When we do this, it makes it look like our limbs go on forever and is not very flattering. I would suggest cropping in-between joints if you must.
  • Change Perspectives: When taking photos of something, instead of just shooting directly straight on, move around a bit. Crouch down, shoot from the side, from above. Get creative, because you never know what you might get a photo of that you’d like to save!

By moving around these pretty animals, I was able to get a bunch of different shots, and I feel they progressively got better! You can also see how the light changed as I moved around the animals.

  • Editing: Editing photos is a lot of fun! You can change colors, increase contrast, make the photos warm or cool, saturate the colors and more! I love editing, and my favorite app to use on my phone is called Lightroom Mobile. (Android/Apple) This is the mobile version of the desktop app I edit all of my DSLR photos with and it has a lot of power! There are many features and it is really simple to learn!
  • Manual Mode: If you really want to start taking advanced photos with your cellphone, find how to adjust the settings manually in your camera app. It can be a challenge to learn the different terms and what they do, but here is a simple breakdown of manual photography for you to start your research. I personally do not use this on my phone very often, but sometimes it comes in handy!

Looking for an easy way to remember all of these tips without having to come back to my blog? Here is a super handy dandy downloadable FREE PDF of all the above! I suggest printing it off, hanging it on your fridge or putting it somewhere smart where you can reference it easily like your Google Docs or on your phone gallery!

Do you use any of these tips? Did you learn something new or valuable? I’d love to know if this was at all helpful! Thank you and happy photographing!

P.S. If you want the “in” on taking better animal photographs, check out this blog!

One Comment

  • Megan K

    Super helpful tips, thank you! I always yell at Max if he zooms in or uses the flash, ha! You’ve inspired me to adjust the exposure before taking the picture. Thanks for the freebie! xoxo

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