Oftentimes, memorable and beautiful moments in our life can happen when we are not prepared to capture them with professional photography equipment. What we¬†do usually have with us just about every moment these days is a smartphone. In fact, with a little practice and an easily-developed skill set, you can capture life’s moments just as beautifully with a smartphone camera as you can with more expensive cameras. Here is how to effectively capture photographs with a smartphone and impress your family and friends with your photography skills.

Step 1 – Consider the lighting

This photo uses backlighting to uniquely capture what may have otherwise been a simple image.
  • Possibly the most important aspect of a quality photo is proper lighting.
  • Look at what direction your lighting is coming from and decide how your subject will look the most effective in the current lighting, whether it is bright light indoors, cloudy skies outside, or a dim evening by the fireplace.
  • If it is broad daylight and the sun is shining directly from behind your subject, your photo may be bathed in the sun’s rays and the subject in the foreground may be darkened. However, this may be the best effect for your photograph!
  • Experiment with simple subjects in different light settings to see how your smartphone reacts and balances the light.

Step 2 – Locate your subject

  • What exactly do you want to capture in your photo from the scene before you? For the most effective image, focus on one subject per shot.
  • Take notice of details around you that may serve as interesting subjects for photography. Ask yourself what is contributing to how you are perceiving the world around you and strive to capture these things.
  • Smartphones have the capability to focus on a specific area, so press on the screen to focus directly on your subject and leave the background with a nice blur.
  • Look outside the traditional pose-and-shoot technique for natural moments that can become stunning photographs.

Step 3 – Use gridlines

The rule of thirds is applied horizontally in this photo.
  • Many smartphones offer gridlines that can be turned on/off in the camera settings. Use them!
  • Gridlines can help you utilize the “rule of thirds” rather than guessing what positioning for the photo will look best.
  • Divide your photo into three parts vertically, horizontally, or both, and position your subject within one of the thirds for a shot that naturally pleases the eye.

Step 4 – Find your perspective

  • Depending on your setting, lighting, and subject, each of your photos may look best from a different perspective.
  • Try shooting from ground level, head height, or from a location higher above. When you want to capture a scene that many other people have photographed as well, a change in perspective can be exactly what your photo needs for a unique touch.
  • Take several photos from varying perspectives so that you can later decide which one best suits your subject.

Step 5 – Take several shots

  • Take several photos so that you can choose from them later, especially if your subject is in motion or, for example, if everyone in the room is laughing and moving around while you are taking a photo.
  • Position your camera so that your lens stays slightly ahead of a subject that is moving.
  • Avoid looking at the photo after every shot, as you can miss that moment you wanted to capture.

Tips for success:

  • Make your camera quick and easy to access
  • Keep your camera lens clean
  • Unleash your inner creativity!
  • Practice these steps so that they become a quick routine when they are needed.


When I was deciding on the design of my post, I had to choose the number of steps that I would make for taking a quality photograph with a smartphone. I decided that in general, these 5 steps should be enough for a person to understand what makes up a quality photo, especially given the relatively limited options for smartphone cameras. These five points are also the ones that I have seen people have trouble with most often. This causes them to take an ineffective photo when a slight change in lighting or perspective would have made a difference. Many people have complimented me on the photos I take with my smartphone, which is how I came to recall for this post the basic qualities of photography that I had previously practiced so much that I now use them without thinking.

As is usual with how-to posts, I had to keep my writing moving forward quickly so I decided on using bullet points for my statements. I also felt that a post on the topic of photography needed plenty of examples to show the reader what I am talking about. I decided on centering the images because other alignments that I tried for the photos and text were not working well for the overall design of the document.

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