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7 Tips for Taking Great Photos on a Smartphone

Morgan Keegan

The season for photos is here! With prom, graduation and senior portraits coming up, we have tips for capturing the best memories with only your smartphone.


1. Choose a Clean or Simple Background

Nothing’s worse than coming across the perfect photo only to have it disrupted by people talking in the background or the hustle and bustle of a busy street stealing the focus from you. 

2. Take Photos Outdoors if Possible

The key to getting a crisp, high-quality photo on a smartphone is great lighting. Smartphones don’t usually have the lens depth to perform really well in low light — so snap those photos before the sun goes down!

3. Stay Away from Direct Overhead Lighting

If you’re already indoors having a blast, and want to capture this great moment, try your best to steer clear of direct overhead lighting. It will create shadows on the subject's face and won’t make for the most post-worthy photo.

Instead, try to move behind overhead lighting (near a corner or wall is best) and use flash, or tilt your head slightly up to avoid odd shadowing.

4. Stay Low

When the photographer kneels and tilts the camera upwards, subjects appear taller — and it's an angle that flatters everyone. Shooting from lower down will elongate the appearance of everyone in the photo, while minimizing the distractions of the background.

5. Portrait Mode Is Your Best Friend

If you have an iPhone X or newer, your camera is equipped with a portrait mode setting, designed to blur the background and focus directly on the subject. The only catch is that this mode only works on close-up photos (typically shoulders and above). 

6. Focus, Focus, Focus

Before snapping a photo, be sure to focus on your subject. The autofocus on smartphones is pretty good, but it’s not always right. It’s never fun to scroll through photos after-the-fact only to see that they’re all focused on a tree in the background rather than the people in the photo. 

7. Change It Up

Not every photo has to be a head-on shot. Try taking some photos from behind or off to the side, or capture detailed shots of clothing, shoes, hair or any accessories!

No matter what you're using to take photos, don't forget that the most important part about all of these events is having a great time and celebrating!

Morgan Keegan is a Graphic Design Specialist and Content Creator for CollegiateParent. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating with a degree in Creative Writing, Journalism, and Communications. She grew up in Bronx, NY and enjoys painting, hanging out with her two cats, and taking care of her many plants.
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