Cell phones are lightweight, convenient, and quickly improving their photographic capabilities. With that being said, it is no surprise that more photos are taken on cell phones nowadays than through any other format. Cell phone camera technology has improved so much over the past few years that they are now an amazingly reliable and reasonable means of capturing memories in amazing photographs.


But how can you maximize the photographic capabilities of your cell phone? In many ways taking photos on your cellphone is very similar to taking them on a traditional camera. This guide will help teach you the basics of how to take great photos with just your phone.

Photography Basics

Whether you are using a professional camera or a cell phone, the fundamentals of photography are still the number one difference between taking ordinary and extraordinary pictures. The following are some of the most important basic principles of composition in photography.

The Rule of Thirds

Imagine that your photo has two horizontal and two vertical grid lines lying over the top of it like a tic-tac-toe board (or just turn on the display grid option on your phone’s camera if available). Align the points of interest within your photo with the intersections of these grid lines to create more aesthetically pleasing images.

Use Leading Lines

Use strong lines in your photos to help direct the viewer’s eyes. Doing this will give your photo a sense of direction, and better depth of field. Natural lines can be found everywhere including hallways, roads, spiral staircases, and much more. Just get creative and keep an eye out for strong lines to use when composing your photos.

Adjust Your Backgrounds

Obviously you don’t always have complete control of the background in your photo, but you can always make adjustments. Try to find backgrounds that aren’t too busy, and won’t distract from the subject of your photo. Plain backgrounds can help you to create a lot of negative space in your photos that will really make your photo’s subject pop. Take some time while you’re setting up your shot to test different angles and directions to change the backdrop.


Try to avoid really bright lights and harsh shadows when you are photographing a subject. When possible try to shoot during golden hour, about an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. If you are taking photos on a bright, sunny day, try to find a bright patch of shade rather than photographing in direct sunlight.

For more basic photography tips and why they work, check out this article from digitalcameraworld.com. The rest of the tips discussed in this article are all specific to taking great photos with a smartphone.

Phone Photography

While basic photography rules are essential to taking better pictures in general, there are a few more things to keep in mind specific to phone photography itself. The following tips will help you avoid common phone photography pitfalls and get the most out of your phone’s photographic capabilities.


Phone cameras are extremely prone to blur, especially in low light situations. To help minimize this effect hold the phone with two hands and brace your arms against your upper body when you take a photo.

Avoid Zooming

The zoom function on most phone cameras is unreliable, and potentially damaging to the quality of your images. Rather than zooming in, get physically closer to your subject when possible, or make use of your phone’s crop feature.

Get Used to Your Phone’s Timing

Most phone cameras experience shutter lag, which means that there is a gap in time between when you tap your phone to take a picture, and when the image is actually captured. By learning how long it takes your phone to capture a photo, you will better be able to time your photos to capture the best possible moments.

Avoid Using the Flash if Possible

Most cell phone flashes are really just led flashlights that leave photos overexposed and create insane red eye effects. When you do need to take a photo in low light try to find an alternative light source other than your phone’s flash for the photo.

Edit, Don’t Filter

Using an actual photo editing app rather than just slapping on an Instagram filter will allow you to improve the quality of your phone photos in ways that would be unavailable otherwise. You can change contrast, color temperature, add blur, and touch up photos with more control than you have within the Instagram app itself. There are plenty of free and inexpensive photo editing apps available for both ios and Android.


It takes time and practice to become an expert at taking great photos on your phone, but by following a few tips you can learn to improve the quality of your phone photos instantly. So get out and start taking great photos today!

Make Your Great Phone Photo Book