15 Good Mobile Photography Tips For Beginners

15 Good Mobile Photography Tips For Beginners

Starting a new hobby can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to start. The same can be said about mobile photography. And if you follow some really good smartphone photographers on social media, it’s easy to become disheartened when you compare your amateur work to theirs.

As a beginner, you undoubtedly want to know how to take good pictures with a smartphone. But don’t beat yourself down too much if it seems challenging at first. We all had to start somewhere and get better over time. So can you.

Below are 15 of the best tips around that will help certainly help you on your journey to learning mobile photography.

1. Use a phone with a good camera

If you want to take good mobile photos, you need to use a smartphone with a good camera. It’s as simple as that. Smartphone cameras have serious limitations compared to other digital cameras. So, their picture quality is not at all the best, especially the cheaper phones.

So, no matter how good a photographer you are, your mobile photos will not look great if they’re produced by a low-quality mobile camera. You need to invest in a phone with a good camera that won’t give you dark and grainy, or even blurry, photos.

But it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. If you know what to look for in a smartphone camera beyond all the marketing bullshit, you can find an affordable phone with a good camera.

ALSO READ: 7 Key Differences Between A Good Mobile Camera and A Bad One [UPDATED]

Keep the lens clean

Smartphone camera lenses are very prone to fingerprints and smudges because of how we handle our phones throughout the day. If not taken care of, a dirty lens can lead to blurry photos. And once a photo is captured blurry, it is very difficult if at all possible, to fix it later.

To clean the lens, you simply need to wipe it gently with a soft cloth.

But don’t just look out for fingerprints and smudges only. You need to take proper care of your phone and protect it from falling or getting bumped because cracks and scratches on the lens could also result in blurry photos.

ALSO READ: What Causes Blurry Smartphone Photos?

Chase the light

Lighting is the most important thing in photography. Without light, there is darkness, and dark mobile photos don’t look good it all. So, whenever you take photos with your phone, you need to make sure there is enough light or set up your own light.

The best lighting by far is natural light. The sun is freely available and gives off light at different intensities and colour temperatures, depending on the weather and time of day. But at night or in low-light conditions, you should set up some lights if you want your mobile photos to look good.

If you can’t set up your own lights, then find available lighting. That can include things such as house lights, street lights, electronic displays, campfire, etc. But whatever you do, AVOID USING THE FLASH ON YOUR PHONE!

ALSO READ: Everything You Need To Know About Smartphone Camera Flash

Use manual mode

As much as today’s smartphone camera is good at automatically figuring out the best settings to capture a scene, shooting in manual mode can be far more beneficial because it gives you full control over how the image looks.

Instead of software making all the decisions for you, you can decide the exact exposure you want, the shutter speed that works for you, the best ISO value for the scene, and much more.

The amount of control that shooting in manual mode provides allows you to be more creative with your shots. You can experiment with things like long-exposure photography, which you cannot do with your camera set to auto.

ALSO READ: Why Shoot In Manual Mode? Here Are Some Good Reasons To Do So

Avoid digital zoom

There is a difference between optical zoom and digital zoom. True optical zoom, which is mostly found on bigger digital cameras and zoom lenses, uses moving glass elements inside the lens barrel to zoom in on subjects or make them smaller.

Digital zoom, on the other hand, works by cropping the image and then enlarging it to fill the entire frame again. However, this method results in horrible picture quality as you zoom in further. Therefore, don’t make the beginner mistake of using digital zoom. Rather, get closer to your subject, if at all possible.

If your smartphone has optical zoom, then stick to that. It might not work exactly as optical zoom does in larger cameras and lenses, but at least it doesn’t degrade the picture quality of your images. However, if you zoom in further than the mobile camera’s optical zoom factor (eg. 2x optical zoom), digital zoom might kick in. So, look out for that.

ALSO READ: What Is Optical Zoom In Smartphone Cameras?

Emphasize your subject

Remember, in most cases, the most important thing in your photo is the subject. You need to emphasize your subject so that the eye can be drawn towards it. Sometimes the best way to do so is by decluttering your shot.

Decluttering means getting rid of everything else in the shot that can distract the eye from the subject. If you’re in control of the environment, you can do this yourself by moving things around. Otherwise, compose your shot differently and find an angle that is less cluttered.

Not including everything in the shot also means having to cut off some objects from the frame. Emphasizing your subject can also mean getting closer to it so it fills more of the frame. This obviously means the surrounding objects will be cut off. But at least your photo won’t have too much going on in it.

Also read: Your Subject Matters- The importance of getting the subject right

Use burst mode for action shots

When you’re trying to take a photo of a moving subject, it can be difficult to capture the shot at precisely the right moment. That’s when you need to use burst mode.

Burst mode allows you to take multiple shots in quick succession, so you can pick the best one out of the lot and get rid of the rest. That way, you’re more likely to get the shot you wanted, at the right moment, and without motion blur.

Pay attention to composition

Composition in photography refers to the way in which the elements in the photo are arranged and positioned. The most common way of composing photos is by using the rule of thirds, which states that photos are more appealing if the subject is placed in certain areas of the shot.

To compose your photos using the rule of thirds, you need to divide the frame into a grid of nine blocks in your head and position your subject along the lines of the grid. If you can’t visualise the grid in your head, you can turn it on in your camera’s settings.

However, the rule of thirds is not the only composition technique you can use. There are several other rules and techniques you can use. But the most important thing is that you compose properly. Don’t chop off the tops of people’s heads while leaving a lot of room below their feet, and vice versa.

If your subject is looking off to the side, the photo will look much better if there is more space in front of the subject in the direction they’re facing than there is behind them. It’s known as looking room.

Use creativity

Being creative can lead to some extraordinary mobile photos. Granted, we are not all equally creative but opening your eyes and seeing the world differently can help you take interesting photos. The world has a lot to offer. You just need to look and find what catches your eye.

An exercise in this is to take an ordinary object and look at it from different angles. Find a way you can make it look interesting. What angle will you take the shot from? How will you work with the lighting? What other elements can you add or remove from the frame to make the picture look better?

Another way you can use creativity in your mobile photos is by incorporating things such as patterns, colours, lines, and textures in your images. For example, you can use contrasting colours to make your subject pop or use matching colours to show harmony between the elements in the photo.

Using reflections is also a great way of capturing awesome photos with your phone. These can be reflections in glass, mirrors, or even a puddle or body of water.

When it comes to creativity, you’re only limited by what you can think of, and perhaps also what other equipment you have.

Invest in tools and accessories

If you want to get the most out of the camera on your phone, then you need to invest in some accessories and extra gear. This includes gear such as tripods, lights, lenses, and others.

The one piece of equipment that I recommend more than others is a tripod. When taking mobile photos, it’s important that you keep the phone still. A tripod is the best way to do so. It also frees your hands and allows you to be more creative with your smartphone photos.

ALSO READ: The Benefits of Using A Tripod With A Smartphone


Another important accessory you may want to invest in is a light or set of lights. Remember, as previously mentioned, without adequate lighting, smartphone photos will often come out looking grainy and unclear, especially at night. That’s why it’s important to have as much lighting as possible if you want to take good photos with your phone.

In fact, there are certain phone tripod models that come with a ring light. But, there are also other lighting options available specifically for smartphones. You can use whatever works for you, but just remember to avoid using the on-board flash.

ALSO READ: Best Lights For Mobile Photography


Other accessories worth considering include add-on lenses that attach to your phone. They may seem unnecessary, especially if you already have a phone with multiple cameras, but even if that’s the case, external lenses are still worth investing in.

Shoot RAW

If your phone supports it, then you should try shooting RAW mobile photos. By default, a lot of smartphone cameras capture and save images as jpeg files, which processes and compresses photos and results in some loss of detail.

Unlike a jpeg, a RAW photo is an unprocessed and uncompressed picture file that contains a lot more picture and colour information than a jpeg file does. In fact, RAW can store information for more than 68 billion colours, whereas jpeg can only store information for up to 16 million colours. That’s a huge difference!

The benefit of that is evident when you’re editing. Because you get so much data from a RAW file, it allows you greater control of the colours, the brightness and contrast, and more when you’re editing. You’re able to do more photo enhancements without worrying too much about losing detail in certain areas.

Learn how to edit the "right" way

While on the subject of editing, you need to learn how to edit correctly using a good photo editing app. Editing is an important part of mobile photography because it enhances the look of the images you have captured. But if done incorrectly, it can make a potentially good photo look bad.

The best thing to do is to edit moderately. Going overboard can end up making your photos looking tacky instead of stunning. Adding too much saturation, for example, can make the colours look too unreal and ruin the photo instead of making them pop.

Also, adding too much brightness can end up making the digital noise in the photo more visible. You should also be careful not to bring down the shadows or brighten the highlights too much that you lose detail in those areas.

Don’t rely on filters either. It may seem like a good idea to paste a filter on a photo and leave it at that, but the same filter doesn’t work well on all photos. If you want to use a filter, then you need to adjust its parameters to better suit your photo.

Even then, subtlety is key. Striking a good balance between all the parameters you wish to adjust can lead to simple yet amazing photos. Just remember, a filter cannot fix a bad photo or make it look better.

Try other apps

The standard camera app that comes with a lot of smartphones does a pretty good job. However, there are other camera apps available out there that can give you what the standard camera app gives you and more. I recommend you try apps that have manual mode or manual settings.

When it comes to editing, look beyond popular apps such as Instagram to touch-up your photos. I suggest you use pro-level apps such as Snapseed or Adobe Lightroom Mobile. They have a lot of presets and plenty of controls you can adjust to get the picture you want. Also, your photos don’t get compressed when you save them after editing.

Practice and have fun

They say practice makes perfect. So, as a beginner mobile photographer, you need to practice and take lots of photos with your smartphone if you want to get any better at it. But don’t just aimlessly take lots of photos. Make it a point to identify what you’re not good at and practice it until you get good at it.

One way you can practice taking photos with a smartphone is to look at examples of good mobile photos online and try to replicate what they have done.

The most important thing, though, is to have fun while taking photos with your phone. There is no point in doing something if you’re not enjoying it.

Remember, it's not the gear, it's you

Having a high-end flagship phone with a next-generation camera with lots of megapixels is nice. Equipping your camera with top-of-the-range accessories is great. Getting a tripod for your smartphone is a smart move. But none of these things can take an amazing picture without you.

Keep in mind, all these things are just tools. And a tool is only as good as the person using it. So, don’t assume that your photos will always look great because you have an expensive camera phone. Nor should you think that you can’t take great photos with your phone just because it’s not the latest or best on the market.

What matters is you. Using accessories does not make your smartphone photography good, it makes it easier and better. If you learn how to take good mobile pictures, your photos will most likely come out looking good, too.

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