Smartphone Photography 101

by | Jun 15, 2017

By Chelsie Calliham

Gone are the days where you have to hire a professional or purchase a fancy camera, download editing software to your computer and spend some serious time learning how to use it just for a decent photo.

The power of great photography is in our hands- literally. Thanks to mobile devices, we can take clear photos anytime and enhance them by using one of the many editing apps available.

This new technology isn’t limited to just selfies on your personal social media page, but for your brand too. Photography not only elevates your brand but also creates recognizable identity through visuals for your business.

So how hard can cell phone photography be? There’s more secrets, hints, and tricks than most would think. I’m sure you’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of smartphone photos, and here’s how to make sure your business’s photos rise above the rest.

  1. Use Your Gridlines

first tip

This trick is as easy as a touch of a button. One of the simplest ways to enhance your smartphone photo is by turning on your gridlines. By doing this, a series of lines that are based on the “rule of thirds” will appear on your screen.

Rule of Thirds separates your photo into thirds both horizontally and vertically, or nine parts total. If the subject in your photo is placed in the intersections or along the lines, your photo will appear more balanced and level allowing your viewers’ eyes to flow and interact naturally with the image.

Pro- Tip:

How to add gridlines to any smartphone:
iPhone Users: Go to “Settings”, select “Photos and Camera”, and switch your “Grid” on.
Samsung Galaxy Users: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

  1. Avoid Using Your Zoom Tool

second tip

Zooming in can be very tempting when trying to capture something specific from far away. However, this can make your photo pixelated, grainy or even blurry.

To avoid compromising quality, simply move closer to your subject or take the photo from a distance and crop it later. This will keep your image crisp and clear.


For distant pictures, like a sunset or buildings, leave the zoom alone and try to fill the frame. This will illustrate what you want to capture while keeping your photo high quality. Try your hand at some photography elements like the rule of thirds or leading lines when taking these photos since you have more of a frame to work with.

  1. Utilize Natural Light

third tip

We’ve all been victims of the dreaded smartphone flash at one time or another. From red-eye to washing out, flash can negatively alter colors and make images appear overexposed.

Instead of using flash, try to use natural light as much as possible when taking photos. Even at night, capture shadows or other forms of light to create your perfect photo.

Pro- Tip:

Once you’ve selected an image, try using your favorite editing app to adjust the “Exposure”. The best way to do this is to make your photo slightly brighter without making it grainy.

  1. Take Candids

fourth tip

Posed photos are very effective in capturing memories for big life moments, but sometimes, catching others off guard or without them noticing can be far more interesting.

This is because candids capture true emotions and actions right in the moment. The easiest way to do this is taking as many photos as possible. You can always delete what you don’t need later. Having more to choose from is never a bad thing and the slightest movement can affect the quality of the photo.


Use burst mode to get multiple action shots in a row. Smartphones aren’t as ideal for moving photos, but if you want to capture something’s motion, burst mode is the tool for you.

Burst mode allows you to take up to 10 frames per second (iPhone 5s and up) and up to 20 frames per second (HTC One). This increases the chances of getting your perfect action shot. Hold down the shutter button to start burst mode when shooting your shot. It’s as easy as that.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Edit

fifth tip    fifth tip 2

Once you’ve mastered the first step in smartphone photography and incorporated all of the steps we’ve talked about, the next step in the process is critical – editing.

Editing can never take the place of solid photography, but it can be used to enhance an already good photo. Chances are you’ll do this by using a photo-editing app. While the apps available for your phone may not be as powerful as the professional editing programs for computers, they allow you to make adjustments to your photos quickly, with little to no cost for your business.

It may take a few tries and downloads to find what app meets your specific needs. Continue checking your phone’s app store to keep up with the latest photo trends and find exactly what you’re after.

Interested in learning more about photo editing apps? Let us know in the comment section and we can write an upcoming blog over the topic.

Pro- Tip:

Don’t over process your photos. This is an easy mistake many beginning photographers make; I know from experience. Try to get a clear and focused and then edit. Bring out the natural beauty in your shot and take it easy when editing your photos.

Your Turn!

Now that you know smartphone photography 101, it’s time to put your skills to the test and get your business out there.

Our challenge to you is to capture your best smartphone photo, post it on Facebook and tag us (Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement) in the comments. One week from today (June 22nd) we will choose one winner with the best mobile phone image. They will receive a FREE 30-minute social media consultation with our team at the Center.