Most of today's smartphones have some pretty awesome embedded cameras, and, surprisingly (or not), these are actually way better than the ones embedded in tablets. However, they're still not as good as professional devices, so taking pictures that you can actually be proud of with your phone is quite tricky. This is why I've decided to write a (let's call it) noob's guide to mobile photography. Here you will find a number of tips that will help you improve the quality of the pictures taken with your mobile device.
Clean the Camera Lens
The most obvious advice you can receive is to keep the lens of your camera clean, as there's no way you can take a clear shot with a smudgy glass. Even if you've never put your finger on it, the lens will still get dirty over time as it collects dust or lint. All you need to do is give it a good wipe with a clean (smooth) piece of cloth, and everything should be fine.
Don't Use the Front Camera
In case you're totally new to smartphones, you should know that the camera from the back of your device is way more powerful than the one in the front. The differences are generally quite huge since in most cases the front camera has 1 or 2 MP, while the back one has more than 6 MP. So, whenever you wish to take a good-looking, high resolution picture make sure you're using the right camera.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you've just gotten your smartphone, or if you've just started taking photos with it, remember that, like in any other activity, practice leads to better results. Take as many pictures as you can from different angles and distances, to see which ones your device favors. Furthermore, you can try out various light intensity levels and observe which ones help you obtain the clearest photos. And lastly, make sure that the highest resolution and best quality options are selected in your camera's settings.
Use White Balance
Even though our eyes are capable of adapting to different light intensities, the lens of your camera doesn't possess such skills. For examples, a phone's camera will always capture a person standing under normal house lighting redder than he or she would be under natural light. This is why, higher end smartphones offer you a setting called white balance which allows you to make the necessary adjustments.
Before pressing the button to take the picture, look at the screen and make sure that the object that interests you is in full focus. If it's blurry, wait a little bit, and if the lack of focus persists, try changing your position. (Moving back from your target generally helps). Additionally, you can touch (on your screen) the part of the image you want to focus on, and the phone will try to adapt to your wishes. Last but not least, keep your hands as steady as possible while taking the picture and don't move for two more seconds after you've taken the shot.
Be Choosy About when to Use the Flash
There are some situations in which your camera's flash is useful; however, when you're trying to take a good-looking picture that may not be the case. Most times, it's better to use environmental lighting instead, as it allows you to discretely hide certain aspects while putting others in the center of attention. A picture taken with the flash in a dark room, might clearly display details that you don't wish to be seen.
Try Not to Zoom
If possible, try to use the zoom as little as possible. Unlike professional cameras with optical zoom (which is physically moved to magnify your image), smartphones use digital zoom which isn't that great. Basically the digital zoom simply crops your picture, and that might make you lose a lot of important details and nuances from your photo. If possible, try to get closer to your objective and the pictures that you get will look a lot better than the ones in which you've used your zoom.
Avoid Background Clutter
An important thing to remember is that your phone's camera isn't capable of focusing on the foreground. This means that if the background in your image is cluttered, it will automatically be in focus and that may ruin your shot. (To get professional results try using a black piece of velvet as background in your still pictures). Additionally, try not to use any frames or effects when you take the picture. A truly great shot may be ruined by a tacky effect. If you feel the need to use this kind of enhancements, edit them later.
Alternative Camera Apps
Last but not least, you can always try using an alternative camera app which may offer extend functionality and better features. If you're interested in finding out some of third-party applications that you can use on your Android smartphone, I've already written an article about it, which you can find by clicking on this link. In case you're an iPhone user, Camera+, ProCamera 8 or the free VSCO Cam are my suggestions.