8 Tips for Taking Better Camera Phone Photos in 2014

8 Tips for Taking Better Camera Phone Photos in 2014

I'll start off by admitting the obvious: I am by no means a mind blowing photographer. A lengthy scroll through my 1600 Instagram photos, if you dare, will tell the tale of improvement; although there still are plenty of hastily taken and posted photos.

However, I did do that art school thing: I have a foundation of the basic principles/elements of design and composition... blahblahblah.

iphone1

I like to tell myself that I DO know how to implement that knowledge. Sometimes I'm right. My husband might beg to differ, especially when in the middle of IKEA arguing over how to decorate our home. He wants a vase full of crushed seashells topped with a tumbleweed, and I want a vase filled with grandma's faux flowers. But that's another story for another time. Okay, that has nothing to do with taking iPhone pics.

How can we take better iPhone pictures in 2014? Here's my point two cents:

[Side note: I am currently using an iPhone5S, though some of these photos are taken with an iPhone4S, and I indicate which. I am writing this assuming you know how to operate a camera phone too.

My unfortunate subject matter for some of the examples is my middle son, Emmett, who is currently sleeping through the barfs and the heavy D's of whatever virus which has struck Happy House. Hmm. That sounds happy. Okay, go!]

Lay Off the Flash

iphone2

Taken with an iPhone4S, in the dungeonous, dark house in which we used to live. (regrammed)

Only use that blinding lightning strike to find your keys in the dark. A huge part of taking pictures that are pleasing to the eye exclude this harsh, unflattering, direct light. Turn it from "Auto" to OFF. Unless you like how that looks, then by all means...

Use Natural Light

iphone3

Taken with an iPhone5S

The best photographs, in my opinion, use natural sunlight to illuminate the subject. Find a place in your house or outside which is filled with filtered, not direct light: It might be your bathroom, your front porch, the landing at the top of some stairs, the floor in your kitchen.

Pay attention to the kind of light projected in those spots as the sun moves in the sky throughout the day. These lighting patterns can create different moods for your pictures. It's fun to test and practice taking pictures in the same spot at different times of the day, and on different days when it might be raining outside or cloudy.

Take as Many Photos as You Want (aka: PRACTICE)

Don't feel guilty about taking "too many photos." FUH-REAL.

If you're trying to photograph your fidgety children, how can anyone, even a professional photographer, expect to get a beautiful picture if he or she only snaps one pic?

There's a delete function on your phone for a reason. Take 20 photos, select the 3 (or, in my case, the ONE) you like best, and delete the rest of the blurry attempts. It doesn't have to be 20 successive photographs of the same thing. Maybe 20 photos throughout the day, maybe during a family gathering. It doesn't have to be 20. Whatever your magic number -- you don't even need to keep count! I'm just tossing a number out there. Just... refer to the link above.

One clean photo is better than 20 blurry photos, but sometimes it takes the 20, or however many, in order to achieve a winner. The more you practice, the fewer photographs you'll need to take in the future.

Try Different Angles

iphone4

Taken with an iPhone5S

Don't be lazy just sitting there and snapping a pic of your kids from your recliner. Get up and get down to their level. Hover above the scene. Take a picture of precious toddler fingers gripping a toy. Try something other than the obvious.

Zoom In

No. Don't use the zoom function, ever. It makes the photo grainy, and lemme tell you about my favorite fuzzy portrait I've ever seen... er... no. In conjunction to number 4: Get up and physically "zoom into" your subject.

iphone5

You're trying to capture your pathetically sick child and not give everyone a tour of your disheveled, un-color coordinated living room. And I promise you, there's plenty more clutter where that came from (iPhone5S).

This crops out all of the distracting... crap... surrounding your subject and creates a cleaner photograph.

iphone6

With the living room cut out, Emmett is clearly the story I'm telling, and the story on which the viewer focuses. It's cleaner and easier to view, even with a print on the blanket (iPhone5S).

Don't Worry about Setting

iphone7

When we lived at Bumpy Bridge House, I took a lot of photos outside.(Regrammed) (iPhone4S)

Trust me on this one. I used to live in a house with a kitchen full of peeling cabinets and a black/burgundy marble floor.

If you can employ numbers 4 & 5, having an ugly background doesn't matter because you're not taking a picture of your ugly background; you're taking a picture of your cup of coffee, or your pet, or your child.

Unless you're using your iPhone to photograph your house for a realtor (which in that case, WHO ON EARTH HIRED YOU?), no one needs to see the entirety of the environment to understand the photographic story you're telling.

Editing Program is Optional

Yes. A computer and Photoshop absolutely expand the possibilities of enhancing your photo quality. Obviously, it's counted as a necessity these days for professionals. But, if you don't know how to take a clean picture in the first place, no app or program in the world is going to fix that. I assure you, an expensive camera won't fix that either.

HOWEVER. You can find one or two photo editing apps for your iPhone, if you'd like to play around with it. If anyone is interested, I can dedicate another post about Photo Editing Apps, but it would be more technical and in-depth than the purpose of this current post.

Get Inspired

Find and follow other bloggers, designers, photographers and artists who you admire! Try to utilize the above tips to create a photograph in a similar style to one you enjoy viewing.

iphone8

Taken with an iPhone4S in the burgundy living room at Bumpy Bridge House. Who knew?

Overall, if you want to improve your pictures, that's really the first and only step required: striving for improvement.

The steps I've listed above will tend to naturally fall into place and (hopefully, if I'm a good teacher), you'll begin to think about the purpose of the photo you're about to snap, and you'll adjust your picture taking habits accordingly.

Related Posts

TUTORIAL: Take Better Pictures with Your iPhone

The best camera is the one you have with you, a mentor once said to me, and I've heard it dozens of times since. It's the camera you have with you that you know how to use, and that you can easily share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your blog from. I mostly carry two cameras - my professional Canon DSLR and my iPhone 4S! I use both cameras for different reasons on the SAME day (at Disney World, anyone?) and I have to come to learn that using a smartphone camera is a photography learning experiment all on its own! Even though it doesn't have the same manual settings and complex lenses as a camera, you can still learn it to the best of your ability. Here are my tips on how to get eye-catching photos from iPhone (or any other smartphone) photography.   Read more >

5 Tips for Taking a Great Headshot With Just Your iPhone

See that photo of me at the top of the page? I took it. And while I love my Nikon, and I know I can take amazing photos with it, I took that headshot with my iPhone. I swear. One day, I know I'm going to call Jody Mack, my very favorite local photographer, and have her take "real" headshot pictures of me to go in my sidebar and on my About page. (They probably be so good that I'll even want them on my business cards.) But in the meantime, bloggers need to know that you can take a headshot with just your iPhone (or any smart phone) and get quality professional results.   Read more >

iPhoneography: It's About the Apps

[Network blogger Megan Peters uses her iPhone to photograph most everything. And she as plenty of apps to help her do it well. Take a look at her list of useful photography apps for iPhone while you are admiring her fabulous photos. -Virginia]   Read more >

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.