1. USE GRIDLINES TO BALANCE YOUR SHOT.
One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera's gridlines in settings. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone's camera that are based on the "rule of thirds" -- a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total.
According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.
TIP: USE THE VOLUME BUTTON - Turning your Smartphone on its side allows you to use the “volume up” button as the shutter. This is a benefit because using the standard shutter button often throws your perfect picture off balance. So by turning the phone on its side and using the volume button as the shutter, it allows you to use both hands which will increase stability and reduce shaking.
2. SET YOUR CAMERA'S FOCUS.
Today's phone cameras automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to sharpen the view.
If you're taking a photo of something in motion, for example, it can be difficult for your camera to follow this subject and refocus as needed.
Tap the screen to correct your phone camera's focus just before snapping the picture to ensure the moving subject has as much focus as possible. A square or circular icon should then appear on your camera screen, shifting the focus of your shot to all of the content inside that icon.
TIP: HOLD SHUTTER - Most modern cellphone cameras have a burst mode feature. You can press and hold the shutter button for a rapid fire burst of photos that can enable you to capture awesome action shots, or just help you to get one sharp photo of a fidgety pet.
3. FIND DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.
Taking photos from a unique, unexpected angle can make them more memorable -- it tends to create an illusion of depth or height with the subjects. It also makes the image stand out, since most mobile photos are taken either straight-on or from a bird's eye view.
TIP: The same shot can look very different in landscape or portrait format. So why not take the same shot in both and decide later which format you like best. After all, you may never get a chance to take this photo again.
4. USE LEADING LINES.
In some photos, there's a line that draws the viewer's eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or circulinear -- think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the woods.
5. LOOK FOR SYMMETRY.
Symmetry can be defined as “a vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance.” Pictures that contain symmetry can be incredibly pleasing to the eye -- it's also one of the simplest and most compelling ways to compose a photo.
In photography, symmetry usually means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other.
6. AVOID ZOOMING IN.
When you take a photo from a distance, it's tempting to zoom in on something specific that you're trying to capture, but it's actually better not to zoom in -- as doing so can make the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated.
Instead, try to get closer to your subject, unless it's a wild animal, in which case we would advise keeping your distance. Perhaps you could take the photo from a default distance, and crop it later on. In that way, you won't compromise quality, and it's easier to play around or optimize a larger image.
7. USE NATURAL LIGHT.
It's hard to find a great smartphone photo that was taken with a flash. Most of the time, they make a photo look overexposed, negatively altering colours.
Take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find, even after dark. This gives you a chance to play with shadows as in the image below.
Once you've taken the photo, play with the "Exposure" tool in your favourite photo editing app to see if you can make the image slightly brighter, without making it too grainy.
8. CONSIDER BUYING A MOBILE TRIPOD.
Although mobile devices make it easy to snap any photo on the go, there's never been an easy way to ensure the shot stays level and balanced when you shoot -- especially if you want to be in the picture and not just take a typical selfie with your extended arm.
Mobile tripods give you the freedom to mount your smartphone for quick hands-free shots without lugging any heavy equipment with you. Most mobile tripods are barely bigger than your mobile device, and can bend to any angle.
9. SET YOUR CAMERA APP'S EXPOSURE MANUALLY.
Another mobile camera feature you'll want to set manually is your exposure. Tapping your screen when your phone's camera is on doesn't just refocus the lens on a new subject -- it also automatically adjusts how much light the camera lets in. This, too, won't always look just right. It's best to adjust it by hand.
To change your mobile camera's exposure by hand, open your camera app and tap the screen. When you see the lens refocus, you'll see a very small sun icon and a vertical scale. Slowly swipe your finger up and down this scale to adjust the light level.
10. MAKE 'EM LAUGH.
Sometimes the most memorable photos are the ones that make us giggle. If you can make your audience laugh, they're likely to enjoy your photo.
11. CLEAN YOUR PHONE'S LENS.
A smartphone camera might be more convenient to carry around than a full-fledged photojournalist's camera, but it comes at the cost of protection.
Your phone is usually in your pocket or your bag when you're out of the house. All the while, the device's camera lens is collecting all kinds of dust and lint. Be sure to clean this lens with a microfiber cleaning cloth before taking a photo. You might not be able to tell just how dirty the lens was until you start editing your picture, and making sure the lens is crystal clear before taking a shot can keep you from starting from scratch.
12. DON'T BE AFRAID TO EDIT.
Composing and taking your smartphone photo is just the first step to making it visually compelling. Editing your photos is the next step. Filters can be a valuable photographic tool.
If you have a cluttered, distracting background, add some lens blur and a dark vignette. Missed an eye booger or want to remove a leash?
There are many other great photo and video editing apps out there for mobile devices.
TIP: SCREEN BRIGHTNESS - Before you edit a photo so much that it is way too bright or too saturated, check your screen brightness level. Make sure you are happy with the photo at any brightness setting.
Lastly, remember to practice and have fun!