5 Tips for Better SmartPhone Photos


I get a lot of questions about the camera I use for photos on the blog. Most of the time, I’m using a digital SLR (our Canon 6D); but I’d say 75% of the photos I take overall are taken with a smartphone. And it’s amazing how comparable they are!

Thank goodness, too, because it’s about ten times more convenient to pull out my phone when the kids do something cute (and then share it on Instagram). In this case, AT&T let me practice with the new LGG4—which has an especially amazing camera. (And that you have the chance to win, see below!) I was really impressed.

Of course, in light of the old adage, “the best camera is the one you have with you,” here are some tips I’ve picked up for taking better photos with any camera phone.


Look for natural light. Diffuse light is better. This means cloudy days and a low sun tend to be preferable to shooting at high noon, when the sun is creating harsh shadows. Watch the highlights in the image (and make sure you’re not blocking them). And turn off the flash!


Think about composition and metering and focus points. There’s a tendency to think of pictures taken with our phone as “snapshots” and pictures with an SLR as “photographs.” Treat your phone as you would any camera and remember that all of the fundamentals still apply. You tap on the screen’s preview image to focus the shot and to ask the camera to meter light exposure based on your chosen focal point.



Get close or crop. Avoid the temptation to use the digital zoom, even if your phone’s camera has a lot of megapixels (and this LG4 has an impressive 16MP). But because the aperture is fixed—meaning that the depth of field won’t change—you’re still better off getting close to your subject rather than zooming in.


Practice. Study what you like. Straight on shots? Uncluttered backgrounds? Candid shots? Try emulating some of the pros for practice, and then find your own style. (P.S. Here’s how to practice making these donuts.)


Keep your lens clean! Plenty of blurry photos could be crisp if only the phone’s lens were clean. Our phones are tossed in our pockets or purses, touched all day with sticky fingers, and could almost always benefit from a swipe with a lens cloth (the kind you use on your glasses will do).

Once you’ve done all that, I would add that you can use an editing app—Instagram, VSCO, and Snapseed are all good—or software, like Photoshop or Lightroom. My most common edits usually involve brightening and adding contrast.

What are your top tips? What would you add?

I was particularly impressed with the camera on the LG4: the screen display was bright and rich; it has a color spectrum sensor with white balance detection and the colors (which I compared against my SLR) were accurate, with a lot of depth. The rear camera is 16MP with a F/1.8 lens (the front, for selfies is 8MP).  And while I shot in automatic mode, it had really impressive manual adjustments for those wanting more control than is typical with a smartphone.

The LGG4 4K Seconds Sweepstakes: If you’d like to have your own, AT&T is giving one LGG4 away every 4K seconds (66 minutes) through June 20th to celebrate the phone’s 4K Capture capability and 2TB of storage. (500 phones in total.)

For a chance to win:
1.  Register at http://4kseconds.att.com/
2.  Upload a picture from your phone. This can be done from a mobile device, tablet or computer. Images need to be .jpg or .png and less than 1 MB.

There is also a contest component to this program. All submitted photos (deemed eligible by the Official Rules) will also be housed on a gallery on the sweepstakes website. These will be open to public voting in order to determine a public appeal score. The photos will also be judged by a panel of judges. The photo with the highest combination score from the judges and public appeal will be deemed the Grand Prize Winner and will receive a 55” Class Smart Curved 4K OLED 3D TV with webOS 2.0 and a 3D-Blu-Ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers. The second and third highest ranked photos will be deemed the First and Second Prize Winner. These winners will receive a 65” Class IPS 4K UHD Smart LED TV with webOS 2.0 and 3D-Capable Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers.  The winners will be announced upon completion of the Judging Period, which ends July 9th.

This post is sponsored by AT&T. I received an LGG4 product sample to review.

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