A few years ago to take a good photo you needed a good camera – the fancier the better. Then you had to learn how to use the camera and learn how to take good photos. These days thanks to smartphones and photo editing apps, we can shoot high quality photos and edit them easily.

It is still good to learn to take good photos with your phone. The outcome will be something you will be proud to show around. Below are a few pointers that will help you take better photos with your smartphone.

Turn on gridlines to line up your shot

One of the easiest and best ways to improve the photos you take on your mobile device is by turning on gridlines so you can properly set up your shot. It superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera app that are based on the “rule of thirds” well-known principle of photographic composition. The composition of the photograph will elevate it to a well thought of photo instead of randomly taking one.

In the grid you will view 9 equal parts. If you place your subject at the intersection of one of these parts there will be visual appeal for your subject and the viewer will find the photo more interesting.

To switch the grid on …

iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.

Samsung Galaxy S5: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and tap “Gridlines on.”

Focus on one subject

Many of the best photos include just one, interesting subject. It’s easier to get the composition right when your photo only has one subject. Focus the camera on your subject, and capture away.

Tip: Once you’ve taken your photo, open it in the a photo editing app ( like snap seed or similar) and use its “Selective Adjust” tool to make your subject even more vivid. Using that tool, you can pinpoint your subject and adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation of that single point in the photo.

Embrace negative space

negative space - pixels web design AucklandUse negative space to your advantage. “Negative space” simply means the area around and between the subjects of an image.  When you include a lot of empty space, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer. negative space could be large expanse of open sky, water, an empty field, or a large wall.

Find interesting perspectives

A great way to make your photo unique is to take it at an unexpected angle. This can create a good focus with the subjects in your photo.

Different angle - pixels web design AucklandMost photos taken on mobile phones nowadays are taken either straight on or from a bird’s eye view. Try taking a photo straight up and playing with the sky as negative space. Or, you can try taking it at a slight downward angle.
Tip: If you take a photo and find the perspective is a little askew or tilted, use a photo editing app to adjust. (Like SKRWT)

Use leading lines

A leading line is any line in a photo that draws the viewer’s eye into the picture, from one part of the photo to another. Think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, even a path through the woods. They’re great for creating a sense of depth in an image, and they can make your photo look very well designed.

Play with reflections.

Reflections - pixels web design AucklandAnother good idea for making your smartphone photos memorable? Look for opportunities to play with reflections. There are plenty of other sources for great reflection photos: puddles, larger bodies of water, mirrors, sunglasses, glass, metallic surfaces, and more.

Look for symmetry

Symmetry - Pixels Webdesign AucklandSymmetry is a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance. Symmetrical photos are incredibly pleasing to the eye. In photography, symmetry usually means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other.

You can find symmetry “in the wild” or set up your photo accordingly. Remember to use those gridlines from tip 1 to line everything up.

Avoid zooming in

If you’re taking a photo from a distance, you may be tempted to zoom in. Instead, either get closer to your subject or take the photo from the default distance away, and crop it later on. That way, you won’t compromise quality.

Capture the details

You know the phrase “it’s the little things”? Close-up photos that capture small, intricate, delicate details can make for really great photographs. Keep an eye out for textures and patterns like peeling paint, a gravel road, or a tile tiny screw in the beam.

Tip: – Use the “sharpen” tool in your editing app to. Don’t overdo it. You might also download the Camera+ app (IOS only) and use its Clarity filter, to focus on some area in a photo or on some finer details.

Keep an eye out for repetitive patterns

Patterns - Pixels Webdesign AucklandRepetitive patterns are another pleasing subject to photograph. They appear whenever strong graphic elements are repeated over and over again, such as lines, geometric shapes, forms, and colors. These patterns can make a strong visual impact. Example a tiled floor – arches or a row of pillars.

Keep the flash off

You’d be hard-pressed to find a great smartphone photo that was taken with a flash. Most of the time, they’re overexposed and make the colors in your photo go totally out of whack. Even the iPhone 6’s True Tone duel LED flash isn’t perfect. Instead of using flash, take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find. Have a play with shadows to get a different effect.

Once you’ve taken the photo, play with the “Exposure” tool in your favorite photo editing app to see if you can make the image slightly brighter without getting too grainy.

Candid photos are great

While posed photos can be great for memory’s sake, candid shots of people doing things, or people with people, are often far more interesting. Candid photos effectively capture the emotions and essence of the moment.

Candid photo - pixels web design AucklandOne of the best ways to capture an interesting candid shot is to take a lot of photos. You’ll have more to choose from, and often the best photos happen when everyone’s eyes are open, one person is laughing head tilted back, another one is gesturing. What more could you ask for?

Think differently

Composition is a huge part of what makes a photo great — but, then, so is the photo’s subject. Some of the most delightful photos come out of good, unique ideas. Images are more effective than text at evoking emotion from your viewers, and that means getting your photos to say something. Try to think differently and surprise your viewers

Create abstracts

Abstracts - Pixels webdesign AucklandAbstract photos are meant to capture the essence of your subject without revealing it as a whole. create unique, surprising images from ordinary subjects. Oftentimes, you can accomplish this by cropping an otherwise normal photo or taking close-up shots. Subjects with patterns or repetition are great candidates for abstract photography.

Make your viewers laugh

Speaking of evoking emotion, sometimes the most memorable photos are the ones that make us laugh. If you can make your audience laugh, they’ll likely enjoy your photo.

Attach an external lens.

If you want to get real fancy, there are lenses out there you can buy and attach to the top of your smartphone’s native camera lens. From fish-eye lenses to wide-angle lenses, these add-ons can bring an entirely new quality and perspective to your photos

Use photo editing apps to enhance the photos

Composing and taking your smartphone photo is just the first step to making it visually compelling. Editing your photos using the mobile editing apps is the next step. There are a lot of great photo and video editing apps out there for mobile device. I will cover some in my next blog post.