A new focus: tips, tricks for phone photography beginners

Nicole Thomas, DN Illlustration
Nicole Thomas, DN Illlustration


Recommended apps for phone photography from Martin Smith-Rodden, assistant professor of journalism:


Available for $3.99 on the Apple Store

Smith-Rodden said the photo team at The Pilot, a newspaper in North Carolina he worked at for 29 years, used this professional-grade app to edit photos taken while out on assignments. Filterstorm allows users to make a variety of edits, including adding layers to put text or a cutout on top of a photo. 


Available for $3.99 on the Apple Store

From adjusting shutter speed to editing photos, this app is powerful with the post-production edits users can do, Smith-Rodden said. Camera+2 gives people the option to straighten, sharpen, clarify and tint photos, as well as develop a digital-negative in order to create the exact photo they want.

Other top-rated photography apps: 

Apple App Store: Facetune2, Polarr Photo Editor and Photoable 

Google Play: Photo Editor Pro, Pixlr and PicsArt Photo Editor

While protecting yourselves and others by quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to start a routine of switching between social media apps and games to keep yourself entertained and busy. To mix up the monotony of quarantining, consider trying out a new hobby, such as phone photography. You don’t need a professional camera to start photographing the world around you — you can use your smartphone to start making compelling images. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while beginning your phone photography journey.

  1. Turn off your flash

Unless you’re in a pitch-black room, you don’t need flash to take a photo. If you’re in a dark area or taking pictures at night, press your smartphone’s camera screen where you want your photo to be in focus. Then, slide your finger up to adjust your camera’s exposure, and your photo will be brighter without using flash. 

2. Experiment with your angles

When you hold your phone lower than eye level, you get a different angle that makes your pictures better by showing a perspective people do not normally see. Additionally, get closer to your subject, whether you physically move closer or crop your photo afterward. When you get closer, you are able to control your background, which makes your photo look cleaner.

3. Be cautious of how you orient your phone

Just because you hold your phone vertically while using it doesn’t mean you only have to take vertical photos. Turn your phone sideways for landscape photos to capture more of the scene in front of you. Also, if you are taking pictures for Instagram, use the square setting of your camera, or hold your phone vertically so it fits Instagram’s dimensions. 

4. Turn on the rule of thirds

Go into your phone’s camera settings, and turn on the grid. The rule of thirds grid lines will appear on your phone’s camera. The rule of thirds is one of the most-basic photography compositions that shows you where to position your subject other than straight in the center of your camera. By positioning your photo’s subject on the intersection of these grid lines, it creates a more visually-compelling photo.

5. Don’t forget about burst mode

Just because you don’t have a professional camera doesn’t mean you can’t capture action. If you hold down your shutter button or volume button, your phone will take around eight or nine frames a second, which is close to what professional cameras can do.

6. Don’t be afraid to use accessories

You can find cheap accessories on Amazon or in a store that will make it easier to take pictures with your phone. Step up your phone photography by using gadgets, such as a miniature tripod to stabilize your phone or an external light to brighten your pictures. 

7. Take a lot of pictures

Sometimes, after taking your photos, you realize you don’t have enough frames to choose from for your given project. Be OK with taking more pictures than you think you need to so when you go back and look at them, you have more to choose from. 8. 

8. Don’t forget to clean off your lens 

While out and about taking photos, it can be easy to smudge your camera lens, which creates blurry photos. Make sure your phone lens is clean while shooting photos. Use a lens cloth or a high-thread-count piece of cloth every now and then to clean your lens and make sure you’re getting the highest quality pictures you can.

Contact Jacob Musselman with comments at jhmusselman@bsu.edu


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