Pro tips : How To Take Better Cell Phone Photos

Pro tips : How To Take Better Cell Phone Photos

Cell phones are our go-to choice for most photos these days, everyone has one but do you really know how to use them to their full potential? We’re here to help with some simple tips and techniques to help enhance your photography skills! By reading this article you’re already on your way to capturing stunning and high-quality cell phone photos! Go you!

Tip #1
CLEAN YOUR LENSES! Seems like a silly thing to be at the top of the list but it’s often the most overlooked step. Your phone goes through a lot in one day and the lenses often have smudges and specks of dirt trapped around their casing. Use a microfiber cloth or lens cleaning solution and take care to wipe the lenses down if you accidentally touch them or put your phone in your pocket between shots. 

Tip #2
Optimize those camera settings! Most cameras that have come out in the last 5 years have excellent HDR (high dynamic range) AI but with a few clicks and some experimentation, you can elevate your photography like a pro. Check out the video below that explores how to use your exposure, white balance, ISO and focus. A simple tip to remember, most phones have a tap focus function – which you can also use to get better definition on objects that are too bright or too dark. For example if you’re taking a photo on the beach but the sky is washed out, try locking your focus on your subject, then tapping on the sky. Voila everything is clear and in focus. If you don’t have the same model of phone used in the video, don’t worry, most functions use the exact same icons so just search for the same icon and experiment away!

Tip #3
Natural light and external light sources are your best friend. Basically what that means is: Don’t use your phone’s built-in flash! It washes everything out and is the furthest thing from flattering! At Le Saint Motel we offer the use of ring lights and light bars included with your visit, try them out as your light source. The natural instinct is always to place the light at chest level directly in front of you, which is ok, BUT if you’d like to elevate your photography, try having the light hit from above or from the sides. You’ll get interesting shadows, depth and contrast. 

Tip #4
Hold the phone steady. Again, it’s another tip that seems like a no-brainer but is actually often the culprit in frustrating photoshoots! Shake causes blur, loses your focus point and can throw your phone’s AI into chaos, resulting in photos that are just disappointing. Most of us have a shake, due to any number of reasons. It’s not a big deal and can easily be solved by using a tripod. If you’re visiting Le Saint Motel and need a little bit of sturdiness, ask us to point out the tripods which are free to use during your visit!

Tip #5
Turn on your phone’s grid! This is a simple tool that will change all your composition problems. You can usually find it in your phone’s settings:  settings-Camera-Grid-On. Composition is THE key to an interesting and dynamic photo. Instead of just pointing and shooting, observe where your subject falls into the grid. There are many composition rules and I definitely encourage you to look up: photo composition for phone cameras. But if you don’t have time to dedicate to that, here are a few simple suggestions:

 Follow the rule of three. If you have your grid up on your phone, try to line up your subjects like so: your main focus should be hitting the bottom of your top left or top right square and slightly angled towards the centre of your photo.

Don’t place your subject in front of anything that will distract from them, instead move around until the distracting element hits the opposite bottom of your top square.

In the first image you see the flowers too close to the subject, distracting from their face. In the second you see the correct composition with the distracting flowers placed behind and hitting the opposite grid from the subject’s face.

For a portrait, try using your phones zoom lens and follow the same grid placement. VERY IMPORTANT: don’t pinch to zoom, just select your phone’s zoom option. You’ll find it the bottom of your grid. For example, iPhone will show you options for .5, 1x and 3. You would choose 3 in this case. This will give a non-distorted representation of your subject and give a nice soft blur to the background. You would choose .5 if you’re taking a photo from a low angle and want more epic background. In this case, you’d want your subject to hit the top of BOTTOM left or right squares.

If that’s too complicated, no worries! Most phones have a built in portrait mode which will do the job just fine! For a perfect portrait, simply line your subject up with the center square with their eyes or eyebrows hitting the top of that square.

Here you see a 1x portrait, hitting the center grid as it should, but the background is too sharp and distracting. On the right we see the same composition but at a 3 zoom. A nice softly blurred background and your focus becomes only the subject. 

This isn’t an exact science; these are really just jumping off points into composing your perfect photo! Don’t forget, art is subjective and some of these things may not interest you or work for you – and that’s ok! The important thing is to always be experimenting! 

Tip #6
Try editing apps! There are lots of options available, both paying and non-paying features. My top two would definitely be: Lightroom and Prequel. You can save presets and just one-click run all your images through the same photo treatments, you can even do skin corrections. (This isn’t a paid ad at all, I just like them!)

And that’s it for now! Let me know if you want more tips and tricks by subscribing to our newsletter or interacting with Le Saint Motel on our socials! With a little practice anyone can take great cell phone photos and I can’t wait to see what you capture! Feel free to tag us @lesaintmotel next time you visit and use these tips! Thanks to Goblin for being my demo model, none of these photos were edited besides adding the grid to demonstrate phone camera view. 

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