LAHOWIND » Just you, me, + the dog.

Photo Friday: 5 Phone Photography Tips + Tricks

Hi guys! It’s friiiiiiiiday.

Okay, so I know I talked about my favorite iphone photo apps awhile back, but what about techniques for taking a killer smartphone photo? You know, simple tips and tricks. Those sure do help too!!!

Smartphone photography, iPhoneography, mobile photography or whatever you want to call it, it’s clear that taking photos with a phone has become a thing. And if you own a smartphone made in the last year or so, chances are it has a pretty damn good camera on it, so why not take a fab photo? Right? Right!

(All of the photos in this post were taken on one of our iPhones, obviously.)


Here are my five favorite tips + tricks…

1. Quantity = quality. 

Take lots of photos and don’t worry about the duds. Jereme hates this tip because I inevitably clog up his phone’s camera roll with lots of “test” shots. Lol. ;))

It’s pretty much always the case that for every great shot I get, I have at least 10 or more duds. Don’t let this put you off. Photography is about experimenting with different angles, lighting, textures and letting your imagination run free. Even the world’s elite don’t get 10 out of 10 photos the way they want them every time. It’s about persevering, keeping a sharp eye and having fun.

2. Composition is key.

Simply put, composition is the way that elements are arranged in an image. This might sound boring, but learning the basics is the tried and true way. There are plenty of resources out there for this, but here are a few things to keep in mind.

We all know how tempting it might be to put whatever you’re shooting right in the center of the frame. Unfortunately, this results in rather static, boring photos. One of the ways to fix this is to use the rule of thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections. Don’t be a slave to the rule of thirds, just get your subject off-center for more interesting shot. Also try to simplify the composition. As a general rule, simple images tend to be more appealing than complicated ones. And finally, change up your orientation. When an image contains a lot of horizontal lines, use a horizontal orientation. When it contains strong vertical lines, use a vertical orientation. Easy peasy.


3. Take your time.

Smartphone photos on Instagram, Facebook, etc. get a bad reputation for being terrible because well, 99% of them are, in fact, pretty awful. Crappy lighting, blurry, horrible shadows, you name it. One of the biggest reasons for this is that those photos were not taken as photographs. Sound weird? Let me explain. Those photos were only as a means of sharing a moment – a snapshot in time. People aren’t thinking about capturing a photograph…they’re thinking about how cool that thing that happened in front of them is. And probably how fast they can get it posted online. If you want to truly improve your photography skills, you have to first and foremost start treating your smartphone more like a camera and less like a phone.


4. Never zoom.

Ugh, zooming on a smartphone = immediately ruining your photos. Might as well just drop your phone in the toilet while you’re at it. Unlike a regular camera which will likely have a lens, the zoom function on your smartphone is digital. Using it can often result in poor quality, blurry images that are too pixelated to see clearly. A better solution is to go ahead and take the image without zooming and then crop it later to get your desired zoomed effect, thus preserving the quality.

Which leads me to my last tip…

5. Edit that sucker.

Oh, hey! This is where my favorite smartphone photo apps come in handy! What what. Crop, brighten, saturate, sharpen, add a filter, etc. Check out my favs >>here.<<

Bonus tip…when you have nothing but total cuteness consuming your frame, you don’t really have to worry about much else. ;)) Okay, just kidding, but I had to throw in a marshmallow-fluffball-Oliver phone pic or two, just cause.



*I’ve started a regular “PHOTO FRIDAY” series on the blog. You can find all of my photography series posts >> here.

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

terry frazierOctober 20, 2014 - 2:36 am

I enjoy your photographic tips. We will making ready our boat over the next several months to do our first cruise south. We are from the Chesapeake Bay and can’t wait to winter in the warm latitudes. I have a question for you regarding your photography. I have always been in education, and earlier on in my career, I used to do freelance photography, and would sometimes pick up a yearbook or so, and do large parties, etc. That was all done with film, and I processed everything in my own darkroom/studio in my basement. Well those days are gone, and in thinking about wanting to post my exploits in a blog, I would be interested in your comments on equipment. I know you’ve chosen a 35mm digital, and was wondering if you have had experience with something more portable. I just don’t want to worry about losing it overboard, or lugging around a large frame piece of equipment. However, I still want some flexibility, am comfortable with creating shots with selective depth of field, iso changes, and others. I’m trying to avoid the extra weight to lug around, or not having it when the right moment presents itself.

Love your blog, and am positively thrilled your little guy made it through the tick sickness. We’ll be traveling with two small guys also, Maltese, 7-8 lbs.