Everyday Hacks

Up Your Phone Photo Game

Tricks for taking better photos with your phone

‘Tis the season for lots of picture taking!

And despite the fact that I own a practically new digital camera, all of my photos are taken with and stored on my phone. Photos of my teen, my niece and nephew, my friends, holidays, trips, special events and candid shots of day-to-day life — all of these pictures have been taken with my phone.

Admittedly, my photo skills could be better. While phone cameras have certainly improved in the last few years, my photography skills haven’t upgraded much. Thanks to my talented, professional photographer brother-in-law, and a little research, here are some hacks to improve our phone photography this year:

Clean the lens

This is perhaps the most important step in taking great photos. If you are like me, your phone spends a great deal of time in your pocket or purse and neither of those are lint-free environments. And our fingers often skim across the camera lens as we hold, pick up and fumble with our phones.

A clean lens gives you clearer photos, which is what you are after, unless the misty, hazy, wrinkle-reducing look is your goal (no judgment). Use a lint-free cloth designed for glasses or camera lenses. If you have dust that is particularly stubborn, you can purchase compressed air for phone camera lenses online which works much in the same way as compressed air for your computer keyboard.

Get focused

Pick a focal point for your photo, like your incredibly adorable child, and then use the camera’s focus function to make it focus on your subject. On my phone, I just tap the screen and it brings the main subject into clear focus and sets the light appropriately (so helpful, that phone!).

Hold still

Hold your phone as still as possible. You aren’t going to get the kids and pets to stay still, but you do have control over the movement of your phone. If you need a makeshift tripod, prop your phone on a table, a pile of books or any steady surface nearby while holding it to get the clearest picture possible.

Say no to the zoom

Zooming in on a subject can mess up the resolution of your image.

If you want a close-up, the resolution capabilities of your smartphone’s camera will work best if you do one of two things: either shoot your picture from farther out and crop it in a photo editing app or move in closer to your subject and take the picture close up.

Get a little space

Don’t be afraid to leave space in your photo. Let the background tell part of the story. A great Christmas-time photo will include all of those wonderful details like the tree, wrapping paper, and snow outside that make Christmas, Christmas. Just be careful how you position people so they don’t have trees, lamps and other items growing out of their heads.

Use natural light

Using the flash function on your camera will often overexpose the picture, giving it a washed-out quality. Take the picture near bright windows or go outdoors to capture the best light. When you take the photo, the light source should be at your back and on the subject. If the resulting image is still too dark, try brightening your photo by using the editing function to bring up the light.

Super selfies

You don’t need a selfie stick to make your selfies shine. Use natural light. Hold your phone at a 45-degree angle above your face and use the self-timer function so you’re not trying to hold your phone at an odd angle and take a natural-looking picture.

The holidays are a great time to take lots of photos of the people you love most. Make sure you have adequate storage space on your phone or that you have a way to upload and store the photos you’ll be taking. Don’t hesitate to take lots of photos and then keep only the best ones, remembering that sometimes the “best ones” happen in the moments you’re least expecting.

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Get a little space

Don’t be afraid to leave space in your photo. Let the background tell part of the story. A great Christmas-time photo will include all of those wonderful details like the tree, wrapping paper, and snow outside that make Christmas, Christmas. Just be careful how you position people so they don’t have trees, lamps and other items growing out of their heads.

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