Phone cameras have come a long way. The clarity of photos taken by today’s smartphones sometimes rival professional photos done by the pros. And people are more likely to own a phone today than we were to own point-and-shoots ten years ago. But while phones have made photography more accessible, they haven’t necessarily made it easier.
For those of us who care about the quality of our photos, and want to improve (you know who you are), there are some basic things we can do that will make a big difference. Below are some easy tricks that will help you capture more captivating moments on film. Or, well, you know what we mean.
This was a lot easier back when we had dedicated cameras. We didn’t handle them like we handle our phones. We certainly didn’t touch the lens. Our phone's’ camera lens has a tendency to develop a lot of crud and build up, and even something as simple as an errant fingerprint can blur photos. So care for the lense properly, and clean it every once in a while.
A lot of phones have a digital zoom function these days. The problem is, unlike an optical zoom, digital zoom doesn’t really get a closer picture, so you’re actually losing clarity and definition when it’s used. So if you find you’re needing a closer picture, use your feet to “zoom” instead.
There’s a big difference between a camera and a device dedicated to selfies. We use cameras differently. We hold them with two hands. We look through the viewfinder. We take photographs. If you want your pictures to look like photographs, then you need to treat your phone like a camera.
Photos that are overcrowded with subjects lose their potential to be engaging. Try to capture too much all at once, and you effectively capture nothing. Aim for simplicity with your shots—don’t be afraid of negative space, as it helps your subjects stand out all the more.
We spend so much of our time on our feet every day, sometimes it’s easy to forget that eye level isn’t the only perspective to be had. Some of the most breathtaking shots are captured by using different angles. Go low to the ground, for instance, to give your subject a sense of scale, and to give them the sky as a backdrop. Don’t be afraid to muddy your knees a little bit in search of that perfect shot; you won’t regret it.
Sometimes it’s easy to adopt a “fire-and-forget” mentality with our shots. True photographers, however, take multiple photos to ensure they captured the right moment. Remember, you’re not “wasting film” anymore, and you can always delete photos to make more space if needed. So let loose; go crazy with that shutter button. Many camera apps even have a function that allows you to hold down the button to take pictures rapid fire. If yours is one of them, put it to good use.
You could call this “Photography Rule 0,” as it’s so universally true. The key to capturing those perfect, magic moments is always being ready to click the shutter button. With the camera built into your phone, there’s almost no excuse for being unprepared. So keep your phone on hand, and keep your trigger finger itchy, and you’ll catch those perfect shots for sure.