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Ten Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Smartphone

As a small business owner, having the ability to take nice photos on a whim is important. Capturing that candid behind the scene moment for a social media post, or a candid shot of you at work for the website, having personal images of you and your staff can help you better connect to your customers.

Although smartphones have come a long way in terms of picture quality, there are still a few other things to consider to improve the quality of your shot.

Here are ten tips that will help you take your smartphone photos to the next level:

  1. Get closer instead of zooming It may be tempting to stand far away and pinch your screen to zoom for the photo, but this could be adding significant pixelization to your shot! Get close to your subject, the difference will amaze you. A lot of new smartphones have the ability to focus in on an object, while blurring out the background, but this can only be achieved if you ditch the zoom!

  2. Make sure your lens is clean This may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Carry around a lens cloth in your purse of bag. In many phone cases the camera lens is exposed which leads to unnoticeable finger smudges that could be effecting the crispness of your photo. Give it a good clean before taking the shot. If you have a phone case that covers your lens, take it off while you’re shooting photos as they can often leave a hazy cast on your images, and make it hard to clean.

  3. Ditch the flash Although it can be tempting to turn on the flash for darker situations, it tends to overexpose the photo which doesn’t look all that great. It also makes it harder to edit the photos using software later on. It’s much easier to recover details from a darker photo, than an overexposed photo. You’re better off trying to light the subject with natural light, or an external light source if no natural light is available. Ring lights have become increasingly popular, and are very affordable. Tip - the best times to take photos outdoors are right at sunrise, and just before sunset, also known as golden hour. During these two time frames you’ll notice that you won’t get any sharp shadows.

  4. Tap to choose a focus Did you know you can tap on the screen to tell the camera where to focus? If it’s bright out during the day, the camera doesn’t exactly know what to pay attention to and you may find the subject coming out dark. Tap the light area, which should balance the shot. It may still appear dark, but you can lighten it up later on using an app.

  5. Get a tripod and Bluetooth remote Let’s face it, we don’t always have backup to help us take photos. Purchase a cheap tripod, and Bluetooth remote so you can snap your own pictures. It’s extremely easy to setup, and you may find the photos turn out nicer without the added pressure of someone else there. The tripod also ensures the phone is extremely steady, so there is no chance that your photo will come out blurry. Remember — it’s important as a business owner to get in front of the camera and connect with your potential customers. It helps build trust, so show your face — don’t be shy ;)

  6. Shoot a 4k video and screen-grab photos from it If you’re not a huge fan of posing for a photo try shooting a high-res video instead. You can then take a screen-grab photo of a candid moment from the video. This technique gives you endless options for a perfect natural looking shot!

  7. Turn on the grid and apply the rule of thirds This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, however it’s still applicable. The idea is that an image is split into a grid of 9 equal 3 by 3 blocks. Try to line up the focal point of the photo to an intersecting point of the grid. Most smartphones have a built-in grid that can help you frame your shots. You can also crop your shots later on with this rule in mind.

  8. Take A LOT of shots It’s better to have too many unneeded shots, than none that work. Gone are the days of developing film, so why be conservative with the shutter? On both Android and iPhone, you can take photo bursts by holding down the shutter button. Have the subject try different poses as you snap away, you’re bound to get one or two that work. Don’t be afraid to try multiple angles and depths while shooting. After you’re done, go through your photos and “favourite” the ones that are the best, and remove the rest before they clog up your phone’s memory.

  9. Take your photos in HDR mode On both Android and iPhone, you can set your camera to HDR mode. This captures more detail by widening the exposure range of your shot. It will take a little longer to take, but it’s worth the wait. Your phone is actually taking three photos and stitching them together to form a photo that better matches what your eye is seeing. It’s great for landscape shots, harsh lighting and low-lit scenes, however it’s not the best when capturing moving subjects, or stark contrasting scenes.

  10. Edit your best shots with an app When your done your “photoshoot”, take your best shots to the computer or an in-phone app for some final touches. More often than not, your photos need a bit of fine tuning to appear as they were in real life. There are a ton of great free apps you can use, such as Lightroom, or Snapseed that can help you fine tune. Do not over edit! Natural is best. Try to get the shot to look as close to the reality as possible.

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