The Ultimate Guide to Taking a Great Photo

The only tips you need to follow

Nowadays many of us are leaving our compact cameras at home in favour of the cameras on our smartphones, as they can take great quality pictures without needing an extra gadget. 

But can you get a great photo from a smartphone? You can with this ultimate guide to make sure you capture the best shot every time without having to invest in an expensive camera and carry two devices around with you.

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Hardware basics

1. Start by making sure the lens is clean and free of marks, use a clean dry microfiber cloth to remove any smudges from the lens.

2. Hold the smartphone with both hands to reduce shake and  blur.

3. Switch on the gridlines (from the camera settings menu) to make sure the shot is straight on as an extra way of making sure your shot is straight.

4. Use any shortcut buttons your smartphone may have to activate the camera's shutter without pressing the screen and potentially causing the smartphone to move. 

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On many smartphones this is the volume key but on other handsets it can be pressing the power button twice in quick succession. Check your smartphone 's camera settings to see if you have this function.  

Composing the shot

1. Think about the time of day it is and if possible use the Golden Hour, 2 hours after sunrise or before sunset. The sun's light is weaker and creates soft shadows.Position yourself with the light behind you to prevent dark photos, or think about placing your subject in front of the sun to get a silhouette effect.

2. Using the zoom reduces the quality of the image, so get closer to the subject instead.

3. Apply the Rule of Thirds, which sees the image split into three horizontal and three vertical sections effectively creating nine squares, when composing your shot. Aim to get the subject or important components of the shot either along the lines or where the points meet to create a balanced shot.

4. Leading lines draw the eye into a point of focus are seen by photographers as very attractive so look at your surroundings and the background of the photo to see if there are natural lines you can use to draw the eye to the subject. 


1. Tap the screen where the subject of your photo is to ensure it's in focus. Also remember that if you tap the focus on an area that's light when composing the image, it will darken the whole shot while vice versa will happen if you tap in area that's dark.

2. Remove flare created in your shot by using your hand to Block sunlight, or think about moving a step forward or sideways to see if it's cuts out the glare. On some smartphones, you can also tap to focus on the area the glare is coming from which will remove it.  

3. If you've got an iPhone (some Google android smartphones offer this function too) lock the focus on that point, by pressing down for longer on the same point. This is useful if someone accidentally walks in front of your phone before you take the shot, as the face recognition function will kick in and switch the focus of the shot to the person rather than your subject.

Unusual effects

1. Experiment with scene modes, filters and other functions your camera might have. You'll soon discover which gives you the best shots in which conditions.

2. Want to capture an action shot, then use Burst Mode that will take a series of pictures in quick succession by holding down the shutter button for a long press. Make sure you keep the smartphone still to avoid blurring. You can pick the perfect shot from the selection the camera took.

3. Capture stunning views without a wide-angle lens – use the Pano or Panorama mode that effectively allows you to take several shots from the same point by standing on the spot and moving the camera horizontally along an imaginary line. The smartphone does the hard work and stiches these shots together to make one very wide shot.

4. Once you've take the shot, use the built-in editing tools to enhance the picture, whether that's removing re-eye, cropping the image or even adjusting the colour. 


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