Today I want to share with you how you can make your mobile photos look more professional. You don’t need an expensive DSLR to take clear and sharp photos, whether it’s for your blog, Etsy shop or just for Instagram. I know some photographers who have used their mobile shots for big marketing posters, so impossible is nothing really.
Here are my 5 essential tips for mobile photography and as a bonus I included 4 additional lifehacks at the end of this post. Here we go!
- Clean lenses
A while ago I realized something that plays a key role in taking really clear and sharp photos. It’s such a simple thing not many people are aware of. Cleaning the phone lenses from dust, finger prints and other dirt makes such a difference! I get asked if I use DSLR for taking my photos all the time, but in reality I only have iPhone 6S. Some people still don’t believe that all I do is I use a sun glasses cleaning cloth to wipe lenses. Do it every time before taking a photo and you will see a big difference.
- Use daylight
Seriously, this was a game changer for me. It sounds obvious, but when you use daylight as much as possible your shot already looks much better. I completely stopped taking photos at dark times of day, and if I plan on doing coffee or food photography I ask for a table by the window. We’ve all seen those yellowish photos of food in restaurants. This is a result of the lack of daylight: the photo looks dull. Daylight is the best free tool everybody has access to. Why not start using it all the time? Another tip is to avoid direct sunlight, which causes overexposed shots. The best time is early in the morning or just before the sunset, when the light is very soft and will make your photos look as natural as possible.
Want to know which apps I use to edit my photos? Get the free ‘The Ultimate iPhone Photos Editing Kit’ at the end of this post
- Use the camera grid
You might have heard of the ‘rule of thirds.’ If not, I will explain it to you quickly. You divide an image into nine sectors, using two horizontal and two vertical lines as shown below. When composing your photo, you place important subjects either along those lines or where they intersect.
As I said before, I used to take photos without thinking about any rules of composition. It felt like something was wrong but I couldn’t understand what. For example, when taking a shot of the sea, I would place the horizon right in the middle. It looks much better to use the rule of thirds, meaning that either the sea or the sky will only take up a third of the space in the photo.
Locating the main subjects of interest on these invisible lines makes any photo more eye-catching.
Now, to make it easier for you I highly recommend turning the grid on. On the iPhone you can do so by navigating to Settings / Photos & Camera / Grid ON. If you are taking a photo of, for example, Big Ben, it will look much better if the tower is placed along one of the vertical lines of the grid.
- Adjust exposure
Exposure is the amount of light reaching a photographic film or electronic image sensor. The rule of thumb is that it’s easier to correct an underexposed (dark) photo than an overexposed (too bright) one. My advice is to adjust it at the moment of capture. When taking a photo on your iPhone just tap and hold the screen for a few seconds to lock the focus and you will get an option to change the exposure.
Remember, to take a really good photo on a mobile phone you need to pay attention to where the source of light is.
I usually try different sources of light to see how each photo would turn out. It can be the sky or a window. When it’s difficult to adjust the exposure I point my phone at my hand to ‘check’ the color of the skin I see through the phone. Then, when I see that exposure settings are correct, I lock it and point my phone back to the object I want to take a photo of. Sometimes I tap at the border line of the lightest and the darkest subject to get the settings right.
This can be a bit tricky and requires a lot of practice.
When I can’t find proper exposure settings, I point my camera at a place where the light looks right, lock the exposure (tap and hold) and then move camera back to the main subject.
- Try to take a photo that doesn’t need much editing
Make sure your initial shot is already good enough to show others. If you keep this in mind you will constantly be improving your photography and as a result your images will evolve. Challenge yourself! Try to take a clear and sharp photo without having it edited.
Don’t rely on filters. Even though the filters are great and I use VSCO all the time, it won’t look good if the initial image is of poor quality. Practice, practice, practice.