Mobile Photography – 8 Quick Tips to Mastering your Smartphone Camera


August 7, 2019

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Since 2008, I’ve told womens’ stories through empowering boudoir sessions. Now as a certified life coach as well as a photographer, I help women cultivate radical self-love, guided by mindset. Sit back with a margarita  in hand and let's do this transformational journey together.
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Hi, I'm tami

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you. So since most all of us have our smartphones constantly on hand, I thought I’d offer up some quick tips on how to improve your mobile photography skills!

As nice as it would be to have a fancy DSLR camera with all the coordinating lenses with us whenever we want to take a nice photo, that’s NOT always going to be the case! And let’s be honest…not everyone can afford one! But that shouldn’t keep you from taking photos of those memories with your friends and family, or scenes from an amazing trip, or images of the most amazing meal from your favorite restaurant in town!

So if you want to be able to freshen up your photography skills and learn a few tips on how to take photos with your smartphone so that way your Instagram feed is looking like fire! Follow along below for my top 8 tips to take better photos with your mobile phone camera!

PS, all photos within this post were taken with a smartphone! (iPhone 6s or iPhone X)

A boat on the water in the morning in St Petersburg Florida by Tami Keehn

1. Shoot with Intention

I would say that this is the biggest + best tip I could offer to you. Your images will improve tremendously if you shoot with intention and not just aimlessly. First, identify your subject matter. Take a step back and think about the what and the why of the image you are about to capture. Are you capturing a scenic view of the mountains from a vista point? Pay attention to whether there are people walking into your shot and if you want them a part of your scene or if you need to move your position so you can capture just your subject – the mountains. Are you trying to show the vastness of how tall a building is? Be sure to include something in the frame that will offer comparison so your viewers understand the scale of your image. Once you determine the “why” of your photo, it makes it so much easier for you to convey the message and emotions of your image to the end viewer.

Birds flying across the water and sunrise one morning in St Petersburg, Florida - by Tami Keehn

2. Patience Makes Perfect!

Sometimes it just takes a moment of patience for you to capture that perfect shot! No need to rush through taking a photo only to realize later that it’s blurry or you didn’t capture everything in it that you wanted. Give yourself a moment and think about tip #1 again – “what is the intention with your shot?” Then determine the best way to convey that message and grab it! Or maybe you needed to wait for just the right moment for your subject matter to line up perfectly. (ie, the sailboat to pass right in front of the ball of fire as it sets in the horizon) Patience is key!

A colorful sunrise in St Petersburg Florida by Tami Keehn

3. Take as Many Frames as Possible.

And kind of a tangent to tip #2, keep shooting! Sometimes it’s the little changes that will make for the biggest difference in the final resulting image! And the best thing about a camera phone? You can easily delete all the photos you don’t want with a few quick taps! But it’s better to have more options than to look back later and realize you missed the perfect shot of the moment you were trying to capture!

A sailboat at sunrise in Coffee Pot Bayou in St Pete Florida by Tami KeehnSunset between the trees at Bayfront Park in Sarasota by Tami Keehn

4. Find good light!

This is probably one of the key points that has made me the photographer that I am today. I love to explore how light and shadows work together to create a beautiful image! Have you ever noticed that when you want to take a selfie, some of the best photos are when you stand facing near a window? If you have the window behind you, your face becomes all shadowed and you miss out on that light reflecting in your eyes. Or have you noticed how harsh the shadows can be on a bright sunny day in the middle of the afternoon? Finding some open shaded areas will result in less of the undereye circles or people squinting in your photos. Play with different lighting situations and see how your images change within each setting…backlit versus front-lit, versus side lighting versus being closer or farther away from the light. Knowing how to work with different lighting will vastly improve your photography skills!

A puddle reflection of sunset in North Shore park in St Petersburg Florida by Tami Keehn

5. Think about the composition of your shot.

Keep your eyes open for leading lines in your photo. Will the angle of the buildings lead your eye to your dominant subject matter? What about the colors? Do you want a red shirt to pop out in a neutral setting? Are there too many distracting colors? Are there any cool reflections that you can use to create interest in your photo? Maybe from a window, mirror or body of water? Is there a really cool tree or archway that will frame your subject perfectly in the photo? How does the shot look when taken vertically versus horizontally? Which do you prefer? Are there any cool textures in the frame that could add depth to the image? If you line up your subject in the middle of the frame, is there a good balance of symmetry to the sides or top or bottom? And lastly, think of the rule of thirds! If you were to split the image into thirds…top to bottom and left to right, find those intersecting points and line up your subject in those points! 

6. Avoid Zooming In Within the Camera Phone App

You are much better off if you take the photo and then crop it afterward than to try to zoom in within the camera app. This will end up leaving your image more pixelated and you don’t want that!

7. Make Sure Your Lens is Clean!

This seems like a “duh!” kind of tip, but I can speak from experience where I’ve taken a shot and noticed that it seems a little blurry or there are some weird light streaks in it. Then I look at my lens and realize that it’s got smudges all over it! Just a simple wipe of the lens will make your image 10 times better afterward!  

8. Try to Reduce Movement

Unless you are going for that motion blur, try to keep yourself as steady as possible so your images are crisp and in focus! I like to brace my elbows into my sides if I can and just lightly tap the camera button to avoid any shake within my photo. Or if you can lean against a wall or table to steady yourself, or put it on a tripod, that’s even better!

Walking on a pier over a lagoon in Tulum Mexico.

Want more?

So those are my top 8 quick tips on improving your mobile photography skills. I could go on and on with more tips, but these are a wonderful starting point for you to see some pretty quick results! If you’d like even more tips from me, feel free to leave a question in the comments below or I do offer one on one mentoring where we can take your skills to the next level with personal direction and assistance. You can find out more about mentoring sessions on my website!


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