Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Smartphone / by JD Andrews

You know who takes great photos? EVERYONE!

Today it's so easy to take, edit and share beautiful smartphone photos but like anything, there's always room for improvement.

So when the Microsoft Store reached out to me to conduct a smartphone workshop, I was more than happy to share some tips and experiences with the Nokia 1020 - The Windows phone with the 41 Mega Pixel Camera. 

Here's a test I conducted in the Arizona desert last year when I first received the Nokia 1020 - HERE

Your phone is always with you (unless your my Mom) and the best thing about having a smartphone is they have a pretty good camera built right in.

And as the saying goes "The best camera is the one you have with you"

1. Clean your Lens

Yep, it sure sounds obvious but if you know someone who has glasses or a computer screen that’s always filthy, I bet their smartphone camera is equally crusted over with pocket lint and other indescribable guck. Before you take that once in a lifetime pic, clean that lens!

2. Learn the Manual Settings

As some pros say, if you use auto that means your photo will automatically be bad. You don't have to read the entire manual but brush up on how to control the ISO, White Balance and Shutter Speed. Your photos will improve and you'll be the envy of all your friends! (The envy thing is not guaranteed)

3. Move

Move up, down and all around. What if that photo you are taking would be way cooler if you crouched down or stood on soothing for a better angle, do it! Look around; is there a better place to capture the moment? A cool angle could be the difference between a good pic and an amazing one, get creative! Plus you look more professional when your body contorts into weird positions. (or so I’m told)

4. Don't ZOOM


'but what if'

NOPE, don't do it!

'but I have a great zoom'

No, no you don't.

When you zoom with your smartphone all it does is make your photos very pixelated. So crop! Crop your photos. Crop is your friend. (not to be confused with crap, crap is just crap)

5. Just Say NO to Flash

Have you used your flash and the whole photo looks like a, well…big ol…flash! If you can, use natural light or if you're indoors, try turning a lamp toward your subject. If you have to use a flash (we've all been there) do some tests first to see how far away you can be to capture a better looking photo and plus you'll spare your subjects eyes from that bright light! (red dots <blink> red dots)


6. Video

If you're shooting video, make sure your smartphone is horizontal. Please, please, please never, ever, ever shoot video vertically (this tip was provided by everyone in the world)



Editing can only make your photo better (unless you go crazy with the HDR or Saturation filters) there are so many photo-editing apps out there so use them! If you find photos that look amazing, ask the photographer what apps they use.

(Not that you asked but…) On Windows I use Photoshop and Photo Editor. On iOS and Android I use Snapseed. And if your photo looks terrible, try it in black and white, you never know.

8. Play by the Rules

When you use your smartphone as a camera, go with the basic photography rules: Composition, Contrast, Frame, Rule of Thirds and so on.

9. Break the Rules

All of them! Rules? What rules? I make my own rules! Get creative and have fun!


10. Click More

If you want to get better, there's only one-way…practice, practice, practice…then practice some more. As my Mother tells me, 'don't complain, work harder.'

Now get out there and take some great photos!


Please share your smartphone tips, tricks and Apps in the comments. Thanks!