Six things you’re doing wrong with your smartphone camera

Not backing up your photos

Please think about this before it’s too late. It makes me cringe when i hear people tell stories about lost or broken phones that end with “and now all my photos are gone”. Your photos are invaluable. That one of you and a couple of friends may not seem all that important today, but you never know, 30 years from now it may be your most loved photo. And most important are photos of your children. They will never be this small again and trust me – when they grow up, every single snapshot is worth a lot.

So make sure your photos are safe in at least two places and at least organized by date. Also, test regularly that your photos are still being backed up and that you can easily find them and restore them whenever you want. Dropbox is a great alternative. (I have no affiliation with Dropbox)

Relying on flash

The flash on a smartphone is tiny. It will only light up an area very close to your camera and it will give you a very harsh and unflattering look. It also uses up your battery. Learn how to get a little more out of your camera by increasing the ISO setting. This will make your camera sensor pick up more light, but at the cost of moe noise in your picture. You can also learn how to take control of your camera’s shutter speed and aperture setting. Spend an hour learning this and your photos will be so much better. I haved a post that explains all you need to know about exposure settings. It’s not that hard, i promise.

Ever seen a crowded stadium with hundreds of flashes in the stands? No flash in the world can light up a stadium, especially not a smartphone flash.

The yellow indoor shot

You see this in a lot of food photos. A white plate will look yellowish and the food will not look very appetizing at all. The reason is your light source. Light bulbs will have a warm light that makes everything look yellow or orange.

The yellow shot has a few ugly cousins. One of them is the blue shot. When photographing in snow or in some overcast weather conditions, the light will have a cold color temperature, which gives you a blue photography. This can be corrected just like the yellow shot. It’s not that hard to learn really. I’ve written a post that explains white balance and color temperatures and how to get it right.

Yellow seafood photo

Filming vertical

When shooting video with you phone, you hold it horizontally. It makes absolutely no sense to shoot vertical video. The only exception is Snapchat, which forces you to shoot vertically. I’m hoping they’ll change that, which should put an end to all vertical video.

Smartphone vertical video

Zooming in

Most smartphone cameras allow you to zoom in using a pinch movement on the screen. This is not a good idea. What happens is that the camera crops your image and you end up with an image with less pixels and worse quality. The solution is so simple – use your feet to get closer to the subject instead of using the digital zoom. Remember Robert Capa’s famous quote: -“If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.

The backlit shot

Our modern cameras are pretty smart, but one thing they really suck at is understanding what you’re trying to photograph. All the camera does is analyze the light coming in through the lens and figure out an exposure that gives you a predefined amount of light in your picture. Sometimes this works great but other times you get a useless shot. Most smartphone cameras have exposure compensation. Learn how to use it and your photos will be much better. I wrote a post about exposure compensation that will be useful for you.

backlit photo

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