The ultimate Photography guide: Take photos like a pro!

19 June 2023
The ultimate Photography guide: Take photos like a pro!

Do you always find your mobile phone photos so boring? The colours look pale, the objects blurred and the noise in the skies annoys you too? Then this article is just right for you. 

Nowadays, smartphones – especially in the upper class – do not need to hide from professional SLR cameras. However, not everyone owns an expensive iPhone 14 Pro Max or the latest Google Pixel phone. Many of us use mid-range smartphones like an iPhone SE or Samsung Galaxy A53 or older top models. With our 16 tips, you can take your next Instagram snapshots to the next level, no matter what phone you use.

General tips for your perfect snapshot

Tip #1: Use third-party camera apps

As we wrote in our text about photography apps, they do not turn your mobile phone into an SLR camera. However, these apps offer features that standard camera apps do not. Some photo apps even use artificial intelligence to take better pictures. What all third-party apps have in common: They are regularly provided with updates and bug fixes.

Tip #2: Check the settings

When was the last time you looked at the settings of your camera app? Surely it’s been some time. But it’s worth it: not only do updates introduce new features, but your lifestyle also changes over time: if you often post-process your pictures for Instagram, it might be worth changing the recording format from JPEG to RAW. If your smartphone is low on memory, you can change the recording quality of videos from 4K 60 fps to 1080p 60 fps and reduce the photo quality. If you post a lot on TikTok and the like, you can set it to automatically keep your settings. 

Tip #3: Think about the storage space!

Higher quality also means that your photos take up more storage space. If you take photos in RAW quality, you can quickly add up to 25-50 MB per photo. So check your photos regularly and delete duplicate, blurred or bad photos. Sort your photos regularly into albums and folders and ask yourself if you need 10 photos of the same object. Tip: The search function in the iOS and Android photo apps can find texts, objects, places and more.

Tip #4: Respect local customs

The search for the best snapshot has already cost many people their lives. Nature and the inhabitants also suffer from the selfie flood. That is why more and more cities, regions and states are introducing selfie bans or banning the mobile phone altogether. 

So when taking a selfie or recording a video, be aware of local customs: Respect photography bans, don’t record strangers without their consent, and be careful not to disturb your fellow human beings. 

Bonus tip: Even if there is no photo ban, in memorials the smartphone should stay in your pocket.

Tips #5: Don’t just look at the display, but also with your eyes

Photos and videos of your favourite artist’s concert are a great souvenir. Unfortunately, most people make the mistake of only looking at the display. The display replaces our eyes. People prefer to stare at the mobile phone display all the time instead of at the artist and his music. Just take one or two photos and put the mobile phone away, because most video recordings are blurred anyway, overdriven in terms of sound and therefore unusable. Enjoy the concert with your eyes and ears.

Tip #6: Clean the lenses

The better and more expensive the smartphone, the bigger the lenses usually are. And the bigger the lenses, the more surface area they have. This means that camera lenses magically attract fingerprints. Therefore, clean the lenses regularly with a soft cloth.

Photo tips

Tip #7: Activate auxiliary lines (rule of thirds)

Have you ever heard of the rule of thirds? The rule of thirds states that photos in which the object (e.g. horizon or people) is taken in the upper or lower third appear more impressive and exciting than photos in which the object is exactly in the middle. This also applies to objects in the left or right third. Landscape photos appear particularly impressive with this shooting method.

Auxiliary lines help with this. They divide the screen into 9 rectangles of equal size. At the same time they help to align the horizon straight. 

Tip #8: Play with different formats and colours – break the rules!

When it comes to photography, you are completely free. And the rule of thirds is only one thing: a rule, not a law. How about taking photos in black and white? Or deliberately underexpose or overexpose the shot? Shoot a panorama not from left to right, but from bottom to top? Deliberately shoot against the light? Or straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa by tilting your smartphone slightly? The latter also helps if the object does not fit completely in the shot because of its width. Break the rules!

Tip #9: Avoid flash…

Smartphone cameras have become so good these days that you no longer need a flash even for night shots. Flash also has a habit of highlighting dust particles and other impurities. 

Only use flash if you want to reproduce the look of old, ugly family party photos. 😁

Tip #10: …and digital zoom

You should also avoid digital zoom. Many smartphone manufacturers advertise with claims such as “up to 100x zoom”. This is always digital zoom, which massively degrades the quality of your pictures. Not only will the pictures be blurrier, but they will also be noisier. Because the aspect ratio remains the same, the smartphone (to put it simply) tries to fill the additional details gained by the zoom with additional pixels. Neighbouring pixels are used for this purpose, but this results in digitally zoomed images appearing blurrier.

Admittedly, the software is getting better and better, and digitally zoomed images are also getting better and better. But we haven’t reached that point yet; the more post-processing is done by the software, the greater the strain on the hardware, which in turn results in greater battery consumption.

Tip #11: Optical zoom is always better

Optical zoom means that unlike digital zoom, it is not the software that is responsible for zooming, but the lens and the lens, i.e. the hardware. This means that there is no loss of quality when zooming, only the lens changes its focal length. Unfortunately, there is no room in smartphones for a large lens like in an SLR. That’s why the end is reached after 2 to 4 times the optical zoom. It’s also another reason why today’s smartphones have a “camera bump”. The bigger it is, the more optical zoom is possible.

Tip #12: Take a photo from a different perspective

Whether portraits or landscape photos: Most photos these days are taken at face level. Why not take on the role of a frog and shoot objects from the frog’s perspective by kneeling down? People shot from this perspective with an ultra-wide-angle camera radiate power and self-confidence, trees and animals look powerful and threatening – just the variety you need! 

On the other hand, there is the bird’s eye view. You don’t need a drone for this, a simple selfie stick is enough to take photos above the crowds, for example. Just be aware of local customs.

Tip #13: Use the Blue and Golden Hour

Every sunrise and sunset is unique and always a spectacle. The golden hour refers to the time after sunrise and before sunset, the blue hour to the time before sunrise and after sunset. 

Tip #14: Keep your head clear

When taking selfies or portrait photos of other people, make sure that the background is clear. Nothing is more annoying than finding out afterwards that poles, trees, animals or other people are “growing” out of the person’s head. 

Tip #15: Landscape or portrait format? 16:9 or 4:3?

You should also think about the format before recording, because it cannot be changed later. What do you want to do with the shot? If you want to post it on TikTok or Instagram story, then portrait format is enough. If instead you’re taking landscape shots for your blog or family group, you should shoot in landscape format. 

The aspect ratio should always be 4:3. While 16:9 has advantages for mobile phone and laptop displays, it is different for photos. When you take pictures in 16:9 format, the edges of the picture that you would have taken with 4:3 are missing. You can always crop the picture to 16:9 format after taking it.

Practical accessories for your recordings

Tip #16: Clip-on lenses? No thanks!

There are tons of supposedly practical accessories to buy in online shops. Lens attachments such as fisheye or macro lenses are also very popular. But they are nothing more than a nice gimmick. Attachable lenses are only as good as the lens through which the photo is taken; if your smartphone camera is crap, photos taken with a lens won’t be any better. In addition, cheap clip-on lenses can affect the colours.

Tip #17: Handheld Gimbal? Yes please! 

For a long time, stabilisation motors (gimbals) were only known from the film industry. There, they were used to stabilise the film footage and make it more fluid. Since then, gimbals can also be found in drones. For some years now, they have also been available for smartphones. One of the best-known manufacturers of gimbals is the company dji. Although modern smartphones already come with image stabilisation methods, these are rather poor, especially with many Android devices. When shooting videos in motion, the image stabilisation of the smartphone quickly reaches its limits. Gimbals are more suitable here.

The gimbal’s motors ensure that your phone always stays aligned, no matter how crooked you stand or turn the handheld. This ensures smooth and fluid videos without shaking.  

Tip #18: Don’t forget the powerbank!

Anyone who takes a lot of photos in a short time will notice one thing: How quickly the battery can run out. So be sure to take a power bank with you so that you don’t end up with a “dead” smartphone in your hand.

Not only safe for snapping, also sure to get the best price for your mobile phone subscription

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