How to take better photos with your smartphone camera | 8 Tips and tricks

Mar 28, 2023

Have you ever heard the expression ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’?

You can have all the amazing equipment, but if its tucked away in a cupboard at home at the precise moment that you want to capture an unforgettable candid moment, then it’s not much use to anyone!

Using a smartphone camera

Nowadays, we almost always have our mobile phone at our fingertips … and smart phones have pretty good cameras. So why not learn a few easy tricks and techniques to be able to make the most of the photos you take with your phone, you will be amazed at the difference it makes … and just to prove it to you, all the photos in this blog post are snaps that I have taken with my phone!

Child climbing into the fridge to reach something in the supermarket

1 Keep your lens clean

This might sound obvious, but our phones are heavily used on a daily basis. We are always carrying our phones around in bags and pockets so it is easy for them to get smeared with dust and dirt. I always wipe my lens before I use it – it’s pretty easy to remember as it’s usually so dirty it looks like I’m peering through vaseline if I don’t!

2 Find the shortcut

Things happen quickly, especially when kids are involved! Knowing how to get to your camera quickly will make sure that you don’t miss the perfect moment. Most phones have a shortcut to the camera from the home screen, so you can access it without having to unlock the phone first.

Pretty pink exterior of a restaurant in Paris

3 Set your focus

Your phone will automatically try to focus on the nearest person/object, but you might not want to the focus of your photo to be there. Instead of letting it decide what you want to focus on, you can take control. Simply tap the screen on the person/object that you want to focus on, and voilà! You’ll be able to get much more creative with your compositions once you master focus.

4 Use a grid

I challenge you to find any photographer, amateur or professional, who doesn’t shoot a wonky horizon! Not only is a grid a great tool to help you get straight horizons, it also really helps your composition when you’re new to photography. Have you ever heard of ‘the rule of thirds’? Basically, if you place your subjects/points of interest on the lines of third, or even better at the points where the lines intersect, then it helps you to create a more visually dynamic image. To turn your grid on, go into your camera settings, the guides will show on your screen but not on your finished photo.

Bored child waiting outside shop changing rooms taken with iphone

5 Don’t zoom

Don’t be tempted to zoom in with the zoom tool, it really degrades the quality of the photos you take. Instead, use your feet to get closer to the action!

6 Don’t use flash

Smartphone cameras may have come a long way, but their flashes haven’t! Obviously you can’t always avoid flash, sometimes you do want to take a photo at night, and that’s fine. But, during the day, make sure that flash is turned off and use natural light for much prettier results.

girl with dog in frosty winter landscape with long shadows taken with iphone

7 Manually adjust the brightness

This is a game changer! Did you know that you can manually adjust the brightness of your shot with just a simple slider? All phones are slightly different, but generally when you tap your screen to focus a symbol such as a sunshine will appear – have a play around. If you swipe/drag/slide this icon you will see the exposure of your shot change in front of your eyes. Adjusting the brightness will help you to preserve details and also get creative with light and shadow.

8 Edit your photos

With a few simple adjustments using editing tools you can really enhance your photos. You can make sure your photo is straight, crop a little to improve the composition, make your photos pop with a boost in contrast, adjust the colour tone … there is so much you can do. The native editing tools on your phone can do a great job, but if you’re keen to take it further look at apps like VSCO, Lightroom for mobile or Snapseed.

Interesting effect of leaves frozen onto a car window taken with iphone

If you want to try our your new skills, you might enjoy testing them out on my springtime photo scavenger hunt. It’s fun for all the family and a great activity to do on a quiet weekend or during the school holidays.

If you have enjoyed learning about how to make the most of your smart phone, make sure you sign up to my newsletter. I often share photography tips as well as keeping you up-to-date with any exciting things that I have going on behind the scenes.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reading upside down quirky kids portraits full of character by Emma Collins


A place where I share my musings on photography and art, life and parenting, tips and tricks, and anything else that tickles my fancy ... it's so interesting you'll want to read it upside down!


You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest