Phone cameras have gotten better over the years, sporting more megapixels and better sensors. What this means is that you do not have to be a professional photographer to take incredible photos that will rival many point-and-shoot cameras. Want to take the best pictures on iPhone or the best pictures on Android? Here is a compilation of the top 10 tips and tricks you need to know to take the best photos with your smartphone.

1. Explore your default camera app

The imaging capabilities of today’s smartphones are staggering. Unfortunately, we seldom use half of the features they are equipped with because we are not even aware they are there. Before anything else, you might want to learn about all that your camera app has to offer. 

Has the phone camera got different filters, features, and manual settings? Take time to explore them. The more you know about your phone’s capabilities, the more prepared you will be to take the best pictures on iPhone and the best pictures on Android. 

2. Use natural light where possible

Light is one of the most important requirements for photography as it determines the brightness, mood, and tone of a photo. Many people tend to rely on their smartphone’s built-in flash, but very few mobile devices can produce excellent shots with the flash of an LED light. Most times, they make a photo look overexposed and washed-out. 

Instead of depending on your phone’s underpowered LED flash, take advantage of natural light or other sources of light like indoor lights or some candlelight if you want to get artsy. But stay away from bulbs that cast a yellow tone over your photo’s subject. 

3. Ditch digital zoom

Most phones are equipped with a zoom function, but it will likely not give you the results you want. The reason is that it enlarges the image but compromises quality, resulting in grainy, blurry messages. Image quality typically gets worse the more you zoom in. 

Rather than taking a photo from a distance and using the zoom function, try to get closer to the subject to maintain the quality of the image. If you have too much background in the photo, you can always crop it using your native camera app or other popular choices like Instagram and Photoshop Express. 

4. Experiment exposure

If you are looking to take the best pictures on iPhone or best pictures Android, you will need to manually choose your camera’s exposure rather than let it do it for you. Taking photos with automatic exposure won’t always look great, so it is best to adjust it yourself. 

To change the exposure in the native iPhone camera app, tap once to focus and then hold and drag to adjust the exposure. The procedure is simple for Android, too: tap on the screen, and when you see the lens refocus, swipe up or down the vertical scale close to the small sun icon. 

5. Apply the rule of thirds

This photography trick has been around for years and is one of the easiest ways to improve your mobile photos. According to the theory behind this rule, a photo is split into nine equal blocks that form a 3×3 grid. 

The rule is to place the horizon in the top or bottom third of the photograph with other elements falling along the intersections of the gridlines to create balance and give a clean, clinical feel. You do not have to mentally divide the lines yourself, as you can employ the camera to assist you. 

To switch on the grid:

  • In iPhone: Go to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid on 
  • In Android: Visit Settings > Apps > Camera > Gridlines 

6. Capture multiple shots 

The days of taking photos and waiting for your film to get processed and developed before you can see results are long gone. Take advantage of smartphone photography to learn and improve from the results. 

Most phones come with a burst mode that allows you to take as many shots as possible so you can select the best ones and delete the rest. You can enable this mode on both iPhone and Android by holding down the shutter button in photo mode. 

7. Keep your phone steady

Sometimes, what causes blurry photos is not that the camera settings need to be tweaked but simply because the phone is not steady. Unlike professional cameras, smartphone cameras are very sensitive to movement, so much so that a little shaking can greatly affect the shot. 

As much as possible, steady your hand and avoid camera shake. The best way to do this is to invest in a pocket-sized tripod, which is perfect for smartphone photography, can bend to any angle, and works well with almost any type of phone. 

8. Use the highest resolution 

Many smartphones now come with the capability to shoot at a very high resolution, which means you can take shots that look better than ever. For most phones, the highest photo resolution available is High Definition Range (HDR) mode. 

Although HDR adds detail from the dark and light areas to provide better exposure, it takes a few moments to process the photos, so you do not want to use the mode on fast-moving objects or with unsteady hands.


9. Tell a story 

There’s no “best shot” or “best picture” without a story. Sometimes, focusing on the item at the front is most important, sometimes, you’d want the front item to be blurry with the background in focus. That’s easy to accomplish with today’s smartphones. If you have a camera app with “Pro” option, it is a setting meant to use focus for drawing attention and creating a story.

But not only focus helps you tell a good one. Angles play a big role too. Does a lower angle help show how GIGANTIC this thing is? Should I put a finger (or a person) next to it to have some point of reference? Does this picture need a wide-angle or a close-up? Experiment, try, fail, and succeed. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised what stories you can tell just by adjusting an angle or going one foot back.

10. Edit on the go

Taking bright and colorful photos does not start and end in your camera app. No matter how nice the photos look, they can look better with editing before you share them with the world. Editing performs two key functions: (a) remove blemishes (b) make the photos look more fabulous. 

As far as editing goes, you are spoiled for choices. Most phones come with built-in photo editors but do not hesitate to explore more advanced phone editing tools like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. If you’re looking to turn your images into professional-looking social posts, ads, postcards, or pretty much anything you could imagine, Canva is right here to help with an incredibly simple and fun app.

The tips above can help you take photos that rival those from a professional camera. Be sure to practice often, and don’t be afraid to experiment. It will help you master your smartphone camera so you can tweak it to get the results you desire.