In case you don’t have a professional with you, here are some tips that anyone can practice with the regular ol’ point and shoot camera in your pocket!
Zoom with your feet.
Many smartphone camera offer a digital zoom function, but you’re almost always best served by pretending it doesn’t exist! In the live view, you’ll be able to see how noticeably your images degrade the second you start to “zoom” the camera. The camera is simply cropping in on what’s already there and basically guessing what the image looks like. It gets ugly fast.
Edit, Don’t Filter
I suggest getting a full-on image editing app like the excellent SnapSeed, Photoshop Express, or iPhoto. They’ll let you make reasonable adjustments, like contrast, sharpness, and color temperature. Stuff you’d actually do with images from your big camera. You can also to dump your images into Lightroom or another piece of editing software if you don’t feel the need to share them right away.
Don’t Add Fake Blur
Depth of field will always be one of the biggest challenges for a smartphone camera. But faking it almost always makes things worse.
First, blur added with an editing app is usually applied uniformly across most of the frame. That’s not the way a lens works, so it looks unnatural.
Second, most of the time you end up with harsh transitions from sharp to blurry. It’s distracting and a dead give away that you’ve been messing with the image.
If you want the viewer to focus on one specific thing, make it the central object in the frame with a small camera. Try to keep your backgrounds as simple.
Ditch The Flash
The problem with many smartphone flashes is that they are bright, but the color temperature can be gross and they miss one of the primary duties of a strobe: freezing the action in the frame. The actual “flash” duration is much too long, so you end up with an image that’s both blurry and terribly-lit. Not to mention how close it is to the lens, which makes those horrible demon eyes almost a given.
So, what do you do in the dark, then? Often, your best bet is to seek out another light source.
If it comes right down to it, though, getting a bad flash picture can be better than getting no picture at all if you just want to remember a moment.
Keep Your Lens Clean
The result of dirtiy lens are hazy, dark images that won’t look good no matter how many retro filters you slap on them. So giving them a quick wipe with a soft cloth can’t hurt (and your T-shirt will do OK in a pinch, but try not to make a habit of it). Once in a while, it’s worth the effort to break out the lens cleaning solution and really get the grime off of it. It may not look dirty and you might not even notice it in your photos, but often a deep clean will make a difference.
There’s a disconnect that exists between digital and analog photography at the moment. Many photo enthusiasts barely make prints anymore, if at all. Putting photos to paper makes them tangible and take away some of the assumptions people often make when looking at photos online.
Don’t Forget The Rules Of Photography
This is by far the most important suggestion of all. The rules for taking a good picture don’t change when you switch between cameras. Just because the camera can also make calls, doesn’t mean you should ignore everything you know about balanced composition and expressive lighting.