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5 quick tips for taking better pictures with your smartphone

Al Sacco | Oct. 29, 2013
Everyone has a smartphone camera these days, but a relative few get the best photos possible from their devices.We share five quick tips to help you take better smartphone photos.

Last week, I took a Basics of Business Photography class led by Bob Ring and Don Toothaker of New England Photo Workshops. The goal of the session was to get participants to think more strategically about photography. Though it was not focused specifically on smartphones, I learned a number of helpful lessons that can be applied to camera-phone photography. During the past couple of years, phone photography has also become a bit of a hobby of mine, and I have some tips of my own to share.

This post is not meant to be an in-depth tutorial on the art of photography. In no way am I suggesting that smartphones are the best tools for capturing great photographs, either. But as the old axiom goes, "The best camera is the one you have with you," and most of us never leave home these days without our smartphones.

Then there's price. Many of us simply don't have a few hundred, or a few thousand, dollars to drop on a fancy new DSLR or a mirrorless model camera. Smartphone-camera technology has also rapidly evolved during recent years - so much so that your phone could very well capture better images than that point-and-shoot you paid hundreds of dollars for just five years ago. In other words, you can capture some impressive images with your smartphone camera if you know what you're doing.

Here are some simple but effective ways to help anyone take better smartphone photos.

1) Learn Your Phone's Advanced Camera Features
Many new smartphones offer a ton of advanced camera features in addition to the Automatic mode, which is designed to adjust to your environment and capture the best images without any manual changes to settings.

Most smartphone users rarely use anything other than the Automatic mode. That's a mistake, at least if you want the best images your specific device can capture.

Camera settings and options are so diverse that it doesn't make sense to get into specifics, but I guarantee that spending an hour reading the camera section of your device's user guide will pay off in spades. You may never use some of those advanced settings, but just learning how to use them and what they're designed to do can get you thinking about new ways to use your camera's features.

"Remember, cameras are just tools," Toothaker says. "It's how you use them" that brings out true value.

If you don't have or can't find your device's user guide, look for it online. Most manufacturers post online guides or tutorials. Once you've read it, go out and use each setting as it was designed to be used. Even if you never use it again, you'll be more likely to recognize an environment or opportunity that could take advantage of the setting in the future, and you'll be more likely to remember it.

 

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