7 Tips for Professional Camera Phone Pictures

As car enthusiasts, we spot automotive gems all over town everyday. Although we have professional camera rigs that we tote around for events and car shows, most of the time we’re without the pro equipment. This being said, we figured that in order to truly portray the life of a car enthusiast in blog form (Instagram) we would have to use content taken with our smart phones. Needless to say, we’ve been experimenting with countless techniques to figure out how to get the best looking smartphone pictures and it seems that we’ve found a pretty good combination.

Here are 7 techniques you can use to get better looking camera phone pictures.

1. Wipe your camera lens

dirty lens

Often times the very problem that one can face when using your camera phone is the fact that it is just that, a camera PHONE. Cell phones are kept in your pockets, they are held against your face during phone calls and are hand held for other smart phone functions. At some point in all of its uses, the camera lens can accrue small amounts of dust, lint and grease. It’s always suggested that you wipe your lens with a cotton cloth (or t-shirt) before taking pictures to eliminate pictures like that shown below.

dirty lens pic

2. Find Good Lighting

Camera Phone Picture

Although your cell phone manufacturer wants you to believe that you’re able to take clear pictures while deep inside of a bat cave, we’re here to tell you that this is not true. Although you phone may be capable of taking decent low light pictures, your camera will perform at it’s best when there is optimal lighting. Daytime pictures will always look clearer and sharper than night time photos even with your camera’s flash in the on position. In fact, most camera phones do not have a true tone feature which means that the flash will most likely make your subject look worse than it looked with no flash.

3. Hold still


It’s important when taking pictures to realize that the sharpest images will result from minimal hand movement while taking the picture. You will notice that it’s more imperative to hold still in lower light conditions than in broad day light only because the camera’s apeture has to stay open longer to field in more light. Here are a few tips to cut down camera movement.

  • Try and stabilize your camera phone with both hands.
  • Exhale as you take the picture.
  • Rest your camera phone or elbows on a hard flat surface while taking your picture.
  • Use a camera stabilizer or a tripod in combination with a camera timer feature
  • Take pictures in optimal lighting conditions.


Nikon Shot 1 photo 2

No matter how tempting it may be to zoom in on a subject in the distance, 9 times out of 10 you will be disappointed with the picture quality afterwards. Camera phones use a digital zoom function which just crops or stretches the image to appear larger on screen. The image will not contain any more detail than a picture that you zoomed in on afterwards. Our suggestion is to make sure your subject is in proper proximity to the camera in order to ensure great quality.

5. Focus


Although you do need to mentally concentrate while taking pictures, that’s not exactly what we mean. If your phone allows manual focusing or tap to focus, take advantage of it. If your subject is something like a car and you would like to pay extra attention to the detail of the fender, headlight, wheels etc. make sure you tap your screen to focus particularly on that feature. Your camera will make the depth of field more shallow and will enhance the focus on the object in which you tapped.

6. Adjust Exposure


While applications can assist in allowing you to set your focus and exposure mutually exclusive from one another, those without advanced apps can still adjust exposure if you have the tap to focus feature. If you’ve ever noticed that on a sunny day, your photos can still appear dark, that is a result of your camera phones’ automatic exposure feature. To manually adjust the brightness of your picture, tap an area of your subject that is dark and the exposure will adjust to compensate. In some cases, the picture may now look over exposed; at this point, we recommend focusing on another area that has slightly more light than the area where you just focused. You may also be in need of the opposite affect where you would like the picture to be less exposed. Play around with this feature until you find the lighting setting that is to your liking.

7. Editing

Photography Apps

Additional editing may be needed to adjust contrast, saturation, exposure etc. At this point, you may also wish to experiment with filters and various color tricks. If you’re at this level of expertise, we suggest the following apps to get you started.

  • Camera +
  • Afterlight
  • ProCam
  • VSCO Cam
  • Color Strokes
  • PicSHop
  • Vintique
  • Photo Editor by Aviary

Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you on your way to becoming a professional camera phone photographer. Make sure you follow us on Instagram @automobileuploads to check out our #iPhoneography.

As always, thanks for reading.




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