5 Tips To Taking Better Pictures With Your Smartphone #VZWBuzz

by Valerie, Mom Knows It All

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I am a member of Verizon’s Influencer Team – #VZWBuzz and I receive phones and other accessories from time to time to review. This post has not been monetarily compensated. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own.
5 Tips To Taking Better Pictures With Your Smartphone
As a member of the Verizon Influencer Team I try to attend the #VZWBuzz Twitter chat whenever I can. This is a weekly chat that takes place every Friday at 3pm EST. Tech experts, along with bloggers, meet up every week and chat about one common topic. It’s always very informative. One chat that I couldn’t make was the one at the end of October on Smartphone Photography. I was pretty bummed I missed that one. Over the years tech and cameras have become more and more powerful and capable while decreasing in size. Back in the day computers were the size of a room and cameras were the size of a handbag. Neither of those is the case anymore, fortunately.
With people today living a busier and busier lifestyle there are more and more people carrying smartphones. Real DSLR cameras and even point and shoot cameras are great, but the technology in mobile phone cameras is improving constantly. There are many occasions I don’t have the room or energy to carry more than one phone. Those are the times I use the camera in my phone.
If you’re considering buying a smartphone, or upgrading one, there are some tech terms you’ll probably see. I read some of the resources provided during (full article here) the VZWBuzz chat that I missed and gathered up explanations of some of these terms.

Image resolution

This is the amount of detail a digital image holds. The higher the resolution, the greater the quality of the photo. High res cameras produce photos that are sharp and defined. In most cases, this also means a larger file size.

Pixel

The pixel is the smallest individual unit found in a picture represented on a screen. Collections of pixels in combination make up the images on your device display. Having more pixels at your disposal translates into greater resolution, greater detail and sharper images.

Megapixel

A megapixel is equal to one million pixels. Advancements in recent technology make so many pixels available that this is how manufacturers measure a device’s resolution. It’s easier for consumers to fathom the idea of 3 megapixels as opposed to 3 million pixels.

Focus

The focus is the function that allows you to create a crisp and clear depiction of the main object of a photo. You can manually choose which area of the frame you want the focus to be on, usually by simply tapping on that particular spot.

White balance

White balance is the camera’s attempt to act like a human eye by compensating for colored lighting on white objects. In a photo, a white object illuminated by a blueish light may appear blue. But with the white balance settings, the camera adjusts the lighting so that the white object is in fact white—mimicking the natural functions of the human eye.
There was a day when you would never have seen the term white balance on anything but an expensive professional or DSLR camera. White balance is one of the settings available on those cameras when you shoot in manual mode. Tech is smart and capable but sometimes it doesn’t process light exactly right. Adjusting the white balance can often help. Well, times are a changing my friend.

One of my favorite #food combinations ever. #valmg

A photo posted by Valerie (@valmg) on


Way back when you would never have been able to see the grains of cookie in the milk, and possibly might have even had a hard time making out the letters. The HTC One M8 smartphone I currently use has a much nicer camera then any smartphone I’ve had before.
Once you’ve done your research and decided on a smartphone you’ll at some point find yourself ready to take some pictures. Here are five tips (full article with more tips here) to helping you get the best shot possible.

1. Go for the golden hour

“The best time of day for outdoor photography, especially in the fall, is the first and last hour of sunlight,” says Heather McGinnis of Heather McGinnis Photography in Greensboro, North Carolina. “The sunlight is soft, warm and very diffused, creating a beautiful, golden glow—perfect for accentuating the red, yellow and orange tones of fall foliage.”

2. Know your surroundings

It’s not only about where you are and when you’re there, but also everything that you’re near. “Look for unique things around the area you are shooting—maybe a nice red barn, a wooden bridge or even a stream,” says Oliveira. These inspirational elements can provide a dramatic backdrop for your shots—if they aren’t postcard perfect in and of themselves.
For example, McGinnis likes to shoot near a lake where “the trees really put on a show in the fall. And from the right angle you can capture a mirror image of the trees reflected in the lake.”

3. Consider a different perspective

Two different perspectives can create two completely different photos. “Look around your subject and get creative with angles,” suggests Megan Fogel of Genie Leigh Photography in Wilmington, North Carolina. Once you’ve discovered what you want to shoot, experiment with your position and frame your subject in various ways.

4. Watch your color

“Sometimes the light will reflect off of the leaves on the ground and create orange color casts on your subjects,” says Chrissy Patterson of My Lily Rose Photography in Cincinnati, Ohio. If this happens, you may want to adjust your location. Or, you can use a reflector to bounce more natural light onto your subject.
For example, if you’re behind the camera, wear white. “Wearing a white shirt when photographing is great because it can act as a natural reflector, bouncing the light from the sun off of your shirt and onto your subject,” Patterson says.

5. Focus and lighten up

“Getting a good sharp focus is key,” says Fogel, who looks forward to shooting at an orchard every autumn and aims to visit there in late afternoon. If you’re using your smartphone for the shot, “watch your display to make sure you have a good focus. Tap the screen to choose a focal point.” If your display seems dark, tap on a darker area near your primary focal point to effectively “lighten things up,” she says.

Took this in Washington #DC last night, so beautiful! #valmg #familytravel #travel #tourism #family

A photo posted by Valerie (@valmg) on


I took this shot while in DC, right about the time that I got this smartphone. Not too horrific considering I was in a moving car. And now that I’m trying to read up more and practice more I am anticipating the pictures that I take my time with will only continue to improve.

Do you have a tip or trick that you like to use to get good pictures with your smartphone? Or, is there a question you have that maybe another reader or myself could help with?

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12 comments

Daisy November 9, 2014 - 8:37 pm

I love taking photos with my phones, so these are handy. I need to work on my lighting a lot.

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Matthew's Mom November 9, 2014 - 8:59 pm

I agree that different perspectives make a difference. I’ve been working on this.

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Pat. @ Here And There November 9, 2014 - 9:08 pm

I’m not really a smartphone person. The technical terms are always a jumble for me, I never understand what half of them are.

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Gladys Parker November 9, 2014 - 9:25 pm

I am just trying to learn to take pictures, other than directly at my target and hope all goes right. I appreciate you sharing the tips.

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Megan Elford November 9, 2014 - 9:52 pm

This is perfect for me — I’ve been working on trying to get better at taking photos for my blog using just my smart phone.

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Mistee Dawn November 10, 2014 - 4:20 am

I am so horrible at taking pictures. I do not even know where I would begin with my questions, but thanks for the great tips.

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Stephanie Pass November 10, 2014 - 6:14 am

One thing I learned is that lighting is the most important thing. If you don’t have good lighting you cannot fix it when editing. I always make sure I have plenty of good light when I take pictures.

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De-Shaun November 10, 2014 - 9:24 am

Excellent information…I am always looking for a better way to take good pictures with my phone…thanks for all the helpful information.

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pat. November 10, 2014 - 9:36 am

Phones are great in one moment. However, their battery life deters my shucking my digital cameras–too many pictures to take.

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Debi November 10, 2014 - 12:05 pm

I actually pick my phone out by the camera on it. I love that phone.

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Aimee Smith November 10, 2014 - 3:02 pm

I use my phone for everything! These are great tips!

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pat. November 14, 2014 - 1:43 pm

Any solution for battery life for those o us who take a zillion pictures but cannot change the iPhone batteries ourselves?

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