How do I improve in front of the camera
Smartphone photography: 22 tips for better cell phone photos
Can you take really good photos with a mobile phone? If you had asked us two years ago, our answer would have been: "Absolutely not!" Today we say: "Of course!" Of course, beautiful smartphone photos don't take care of themselves. That would be too easy, wouldn't it? That's why we're giving you our best tips for great smartphone photos here.
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Hey We are Jenny & Basti
We are the founders of 22places, the 22places online photography course and the cameral love online shop. 22places is your place to go for helpful travel tips and easy-to-understand photo tips - independent and above all: always honest.
We are the founders of 22places - your contact point for helpful travel tips and easy-to-understand photo tips - independent, authentic and above all: always honest. Just learn how to take pictures in our online photography course and browse through our camera-loving online shop.Learn more about us!
A lot has happened since the first cell phone was made in 1973 and the first cell phone with a built-in camera came on the market in 2000.
For two to three years, smartphone cameras have actually been a good addition to normal cameras. Who would have thought?
Incidentally, the first mobile phone camera had an unimaginably low resolution of 352 x 288 pixels by today's standards. Crazy, right? It looks very different today.
Many smartphones today can easily keep up with the image quality of average compact cameras and it is not for nothing that a clever man once said: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” Somehow he is right.
Read our other photo tips as well
Basic tips for smartphone photography
We have divided our smartphone photography tips into different areas and start with this section with very basic tips. One or the other may sound banal, but is still often done wrong.
# 1 Keep the cell phone camera lens clean
This tip sounds so simple at first that you don't really have to talk about it. But it is actually a widespread problem. The lens on your smartphone camera is not protected by a lens cap, but exposed to the environment all day long: moisture, greasy hands, dust and lint in your pocket. All of this regularly clogs your lens.
Therefore, clean your camera lens regularly.
It is best not to simply use your T-shirt or any piece of fabric that you have on hand, but rather a soft cleaning cloth for glasses.
Otherwise, we can recommend this cloth, which we also use to clean the lenses of our normal cameras:
Microfiber cleaning cloth
And when cleaning up, don't forget that your phone has a camera on the front and back.
# 2 Always use two hands
Cell phone photos are often taken with one hand on the side. A big mistake. Treat your smartphone camera like a "real" camera. Hold it with both hands and concentrate on taking pictures. After all, anyone can take a snap, but it usually doesn't produce the desired results.
# 3 Know the capabilities of your smartphone
Modern smartphones offer numerous setting options with which you can consciously design your photos.
In the end, a smartphone is just like a real camera: if you only shoot in automatic mode, you will never use the camera's full potential.
So familiarize yourself with the functions of your smartphone! Because only then is photography really fun and the results you want.
If you feel like learning the basics of photography, we recommend our online photography course for beginners.
# 4 Know the limits of smartphone photography
You should not only know the possibilities of your smartphone, but also its limits. This point is ultimately about something very fundamental, namely the question of whether cell phone photography can completely replace classic photography.
Our answer to that is: no, definitely not. In this case, the no is not meant negatively at all. On the contrary: We don't want to compare smartphone photography with classic photography. We see mobile phone photography as an add-on, as an additional opportunity for photography enthusiasts to be creative and as a very good opportunity to take great pictures when you don't have your normal camera with you.
But there are simply situations in which cell phone cameras reach their limits. If the light gets worse or you want to zoom in on a subject, you will have your problems with any smartphone camera, no matter how good.
You should always be aware of this. So if you go on a safari or want to take pictures of the starry sky, the smartphone may not be the best solution and you should use a real camera in these cases.
# 5 Make sure you have enough storage space
High-quality smartphones offer the option of taking photos in RAW format (more on this in the next section).
The high resolution of mobile phone photos also has a disadvantage: The photos take up a lot of storage space. You should be aware of this and make sure that there is enough storage space.
Many smartphones have a free card slot into which you can insert a micro SD memory card. If you take a lot of photos, you should definitely get such a memory card and set your mobile phone so that the pictures are also saved on it. We both have an additional 32 GB card in our smartphones, which you can use e.g. B. can buy here:
32 GB micro SD card
Tips for composing images for smartphone photos
You always say: It's not the camera that takes the picture, but the photographer. There is something to it, which is why we want to give you our tips on how to design your smartphone photos in this section.
# 6 Take pictures, don't snap
Cell phone photos are often taken casually. It's also very simple: take your smartphone out of your pocket, pull the trigger, and the photo is ready.
If you really want to take good photos with your mobile phone, you should try a little more: don't just snap wildly, but think about each picture.
Think about what your photo should look like in the end. How can you best stage the motif? Is there maybe another perspective that would be better? It is very important that you think about it. Just by consciously thinking, you can achieve much better results. Give it a try!
# 7 Observe the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds or the golden ratio are part of the basic knowledge of image design. You mentally divide your picture into nine equal-sized rectangles.
With some smartphones, you can even display this grid and use it when taking photos.
If you use the rule of thirds, you will place the most important elements of your photo exactly on these lines and at the intersection of the lines. Your pictures will then often look much better than if you simply placed your main motif in the middle. Try it out!
Of course, this rule is not a panacea for good photos. But it helps you to think more intensively about your motif and to direct the viewer's gaze to the most important elements in the picture. But it is well known that rules are also there to be broken. You shouldn't stick to this rule for every picture, but apply it in those situations in which it makes sense to you.
Read more tips on how to create images in this article
# 8 Straighten the horizon
This point is really important to us.
Because it is done wrong so often, it really is a mistake because you can easily avoid it.
Please always, really always, make sure that the horizon is straight.
When photographing someone on the beach, the ocean should be straight, not one-way.
So don't always concentrate on your main subject, but also on the background in the picture. Pictures with a crooked horizon do not work!
# 9 Take advantage of the light
Since it is even more difficult to take good photos with a mobile phone in poor lighting conditions, light is a very important topic in smartphone photography.
You have the best light for photos at the time of sunrise and sunset. Since the light is softer at this time than during the day, you have a good chance of great lighting moods in your photos.
If you are in a sunny place, you should avoid lunchtime for photos or at least take very conscious photos. Often you have to struggle with strong contrasts, shadows or bright lights.
# 10 why not take pictures in black and white?
Black and white photography is a lot of fun because you get to know subjects from a different point of view. You also develop an eye for which motif looks more interesting in black and white than in color.
Try it out and deliberately only take black and white photos. You will see that it is a lot of fun and brings great results.
# 11 Landscape vs. Portrait
Also, think about the purpose for which you are taking the photos. Would you like to show the photos to your friends and relatives on your laptop, monitor or television later? Would you like to publish the photos on a website? Or do you just want to look at the photos on your mobile phone?
Depending on the purpose for which the photos are intended, you should also take them in the appropriate format. On a normal screen, landscape photos look like B. always better.
Technical tips for your smartphone camera
We already mentioned it above: It is essential that you know the camera technology of your smartphone in order to get the best out of it. In this section you will find our technical tips.
# 12 Get the image quality of your pictures right
If you want to take better cell phone photos, the first thing you should do is check the settings of your cell phone camera. Make sure that the best possible image quality is set. With the highest possible image quality, you also have larger image files, but the quality of the images is better and you have more options for later image processing.
As already mentioned, high-quality smartphones even offer the option of taking photos in RAW. You can use these raw files to edit your photos in an image editing program such as Lightroom and get the most out of them.
If you want to do more than just take snapshots with your smartphone camera, then this is a very important option for you.
# 13 Find out what options your phone has
You should not only control the image quality setting in your smartphone, but also all other settings.
Many smartphones have cool setting options, such as B. different modes for night photography, landscape, portraits etc. Try all setting options at least once!
With some devices you can even set the aperture, ISO and shutter speed manually, just like on a normal camera. So it also helps with smartphone photography to know the technical fundamentals of photography, but we have already mentioned that.
# 14 Don't flash
No matter what you do, please turn off the flash! Yes, cell phone cameras have a built-in flash and just like normal cameras, please don't use it.
We can only think of one reason to use it and that is when you have to photograph something for your records in the dark.
The flash either blinds the person in front of the camera or only illuminates the dust particles in the air. Both rather nonsensical.
# 15 Don't zoom
The zoom on your cell phone camera means "move your legs closer to your subject". Cell phone cameras do not have an optical zoom, but a digital zoom, i.e. as soon as you zoom into an image, you lose image quality. So better leave it.
Accessories for better cell phone photos
Taking photos with the cell phone should be fun, isn't it? So we would like to list smartphone accessories for you here, with which you can give your smartphone photography the icing on the cake for even more fun.
# 16 Use lenses for cell phone cameras
You can't change a lens on your cell phone, but you can put lenses on your cell phone camera! The most popular clip-on lens in smartphone photography is probably the fisheye lens.
Maybe you've heard of it before? If not, here is a brief explanation: A fisheye is a lens with a very large angle of view, so that you can depict almost 180 degrees of your surroundings in your photo.
But there are other cool clip-on lenses too, such as B. a polarizing filter lens (reduces reflections in the water, window panes, etc. and makes the colors stronger), a macro lens or a super wide angle.
Most of the time, the clip-on lenses are included in a set so that you can simply try them all out. You definitely have fun with it and there are creative photos on top. Here you can find z. B. a 4 in 1 lens set for just under 13 euros that fits almost all types of cell phones:
Clip-on lens set for smartphones
# 17 Always have a power bank with you
It is an absolute fun killer when your cell phone battery gives up before you do. We always have an external charger with us when we go on a photo tour. If you don't have one yourself, we can highly recommend this one:
Power bank for the smartphone
# 18 Use a cell phone tripod
When we are out and about with our mobile phones, we always have a mobile phone tripod with us. So you can z. B. take great self-portraits of yourself in front of a breathtaking landscape or take photos in low light conditions or at night without having to go home with blurred photos.
If you don't have a mobile phone tripod yet, we can recommend this one:
Mobile phone tripod
# 19 Try your hand at a selfie stick
We're not big fans of selfie sticks ourselves. Perhaps also because it has often gained the upper hand in Asian countries. But we have to admit that a selfie stick is often really useful. Especially when you want to take a great selfie in front of a great landscape. Most of the time you only see heads and the landscape in the background does not come into its own.
You can get a good selfie stick for just under 10 euros. So you could just try it out. We won't tell anyone either. Promised.
# 20 Make it easier for yourself with a remote shutter release
Remote releases are not only available for "real" cameras, but also for smartphones. This allows you to place the cell phone on a tripod, move up to 10 meters away from the cell phone and simply take the photos on the cell phone via the radio remote trigger. This has the advantage that you have more time to position yourself than with the integrated self-timer of max. 10 seconds.
This remote release works with most cell phones and does not cost the world at around 7 euros:
Remote shutter release
# 21 You can also take underwater photos with an underwater case
An underwater case for cell phone photos is a great alternative for anyone who doesn't have an underwater camera. Sometimes it is not necessarily underwater photos that require a waterproof case for the cell phone, but simply situations in which the cell phone can easily fall into the water.
We met in Mauritius z. B. I was really annoyed that we didn't have an underwater case for our cell phones with us. But at least we dared to go into the pool with our smartphones. Hihi. Meanwhile we have this case in use:
Our underwater case
# 22 Get cell phone display gloves for the winter
Unfortunately, it's not cozy and warm 365 days a year with us, so that temperatures sometimes come up where you go out of the house without gloves.
But even in winter you want to take beautiful photos.
Have you ever tried to use your mobile phone for more than a minute in freezing temperatures? That's not fun!
We had the experience during our road trip through Alberta, Canada. An early onset of winter made photography difficult for us.
We could still operate our normal cameras to some extent with our leather gloves, but with leather gloves it is not so good to type on a mobile phone display. Ok, we admit it: it doesn't even make a mistake!
For the next trip to colder climes, we are now equipped with cell phone gloves. If you don't have gloves with which to operate your smartphone, it's time.
Cell phone gloves
Our conclusion on smartphone photography
These were our tips for smartphone photography. The smartphone can definitely be a good addition to your own photo equipment, but in our opinion it is simply not a substitute for a real camera.
After an initial euphoria, we never really enjoyed taking photos with a smartphone, so in the end we decided to buy a high-quality compact camera as a lightweight alternative to our cameras.
We have written down all information about compact cameras for you in a detailed article. There we also explain why premium compacts are superior to smartphones:
Best compact camera: comparison of current compact cameras and recommendations
What do you think about that? Is a smartphone a real alternative to a real camera? We look forward to your comment.
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