23 tips and tricks for successful photos with your smartphone

Smartphones make our lives easier in many ways – not only in terms of communication, but also in terms of photography. Gone are the days when you had to invest in an expensive camera, accessories and external software and laboriously familiarize yourself with their use.

In the age of smartphone photography, all you need is an app for a device that you already own – and maybe a few tips on how to make the most successful shots.
Because without any preparation you should not approach the matter. After all, these are photos that you will use for marketing purposes. And visual content continues to play a crucial role in inbound marketing.

Therefore, we have put together a few tips and tricks for you that should help you get the most out of your smartphone photos – from shooting to post-processing with apps.

So it is possible for you on your next camping trip or hike to take impressive photos that you can later show your friends or upload to your own website or publish on pinterest and get a lot of clicks on your pictures.

23 tips and tricks for successful cell phone photos

  1. Activate the grid view to optimally align your camera
    One of the easiest ways to improve the quality of cell phone photos is to activate the grid view of the smartphone camera. This shows two horizontal and vertical lines each, which divide your screen into nine equal rectangles. This enables the so-called rule of thirds to be applied, according to which photos appear more appealing when their objects are placed along these lines.

To activate the grid view:

  • iPhone: Open the settings, select “Photos & Camera” and activate the grid.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Open the settings of the camera app, scroll down to the “Grid” option and activate the function.
  1. Focus manually
    Smartphone cameras automatically focus on objects that are in the foreground. If you want to move the focus to another point in the image, just tap the screen at this point.

It is also advisable to set the focus point manually when you are photographing an object that is moving. Since smartphone cameras may not be able to adjust the focus quickly enough, you should tap the desired focus point again before taking the photo to be on the safe side. The focus point is always at the point where a small circle or square appears on your screen.

  1. Concentrate on one main object
    You can always see very successful photos, in which only one object can actually be seen. With photos like these, it is extremely important to make sure that the composition is optimal. According to professional photographers, objects should never fill the entire picture in this case. Rather, they advise using around two thirds of the image as a negative space (see tip no. 4) to draw the viewer’s eye to the object.

Don’t forget to set the focus of your camera manually here too. This means that the optimal brightness is selected at the same time.

Bonus tip: With filters and apps for photo editing, you can make photos look even more alive afterwards, crop them to the desired section and optimize aspects such as brightness, contrast and saturation.

  1. Use the negative space to your advantage
    The negative space is the unused area around the object of a photo. Used correctly, you can effectively stage the object of an image.

Because the simpler the background, the more your object stands out and the more interesting your photo will appear to its viewers. This effect can be achieved, for example, by placing your object against a background such as sky, water, a wall or a similarly plain surface.

  1. Choose unusual perspectives
    When you photograph objects from a perspective that is perceived as unusual, you automatically add something special to your photos. In most cell phone photos, the object is either at eye level or further down.

Instead, simply point your camera upwards towards the sky and use it as a negative space. Another example of an unusual perspective is the bird’s eye view.

Bonus tip: If you find in retrospect that the perspective from which you took a photo was not quite optimal, for example because you held your smartphone a little obliquely, you can correct it later using a photo editing app.

  1. Experiment with reflections
    Reflections have a natural appeal to us and are therefore ideal as motifs for photos.

And the best: Your natural environment already has numerous perfect motifs ready for you, be it in the form of water surfaces such as puddles, lakes and rivers or objects such as sunglasses, glasses and objects made of metal – and of course the most obvious motif: mirrors.

  1. Use leading lines
    If your subject contains lines, you can use them to direct the viewer’s eye to the object of your photo. These so-called leading lines can be straight or curved and can be found, for example, in banisters, facades, tracks, streets or, as shown below, in a path that leads into a forest.

Lines like this increase the depth effect of a photo and give the impression that you have planned this effect carefully – and not accidentally came across an interesting motif.

  1. Pay attention to symmetry
    The human eye perceives symmetry as harmonious and pleasant, which is why we like to look at photos with symmetrical shapes. If you take this knowledge into account when composing your photos, you can achieve amazing results very easily.

A photo is symmetrical if one half of the image is the exact mirror image of the other. Accordingly, photos with reflections are not necessarily symmetrical, even if they have a certain symmetry. In order to bring symmetry into your photos, it does not necessarily require extensive planning. Often it is enough to simply pay attention to symmetrical shapes in everyday life.

Again, apply the following: Activate the grid view so that you can optimally align your photo.

  1. Pay attention to patterns
    Similar to reflections, patterns have a special attraction for us. Patterns work particularly well on photos if the repeating elements are striking details, such as lines, geometric shapes or colors. Even simple, inconspicuous motifs, such as a nicely tiled floor, can – skillfully photographed – become objects of impressive photos. Sometimes you come across interesting patterns that have been created unintentionally. So always keep your eyes open to discover great motifs, such as the symmetrical fire escapes below.
  1. Add color accents
    With targeted color accents you can achieve astonishing results. For example, you can convert photos to black and white images, leaving only your main object in color. All you need is the right app. For example touch color effects. This app automatically turns photos into black and white images and then lets you manually select which parts of a photo should stay colored.

Color accents are used to direct the viewer’s eye to a specific element of a photo – as in the example below to the purple flower. So they serve a similar purpose to negative space. In contrast, color accents are not used to emphasize the main object, but to emphasize one or more specific elements of a photo.

  1. Do not zoom in on your object
    Many people use the zoom function to be able to photograph subjects that are some distance away. While this is obvious, it is not recommended for cell phone photos. Because zoomed-in objects are often blurred or pixelated.

Instead, try to get closer to the object. If this is not possible, still take the photo without zoom and then simply crop it later to the desired section. In this way you avoid that the quality of your photos suffers and you benefit from more latitude later when editing.

crop photo
crop photo
  1. Focus on a little detail
    Photographing a small detail against an interesting background, such as peeling paint, a gravel road or a delicate mosaic, can produce impressive photos. Also try not to focus on the obvious object, but instead on a small detail in the foreground (see spider below).

Bonus tip: With the right app, you can sharpen photos afterwards, for example by placing the Clarity filter from Camera + over your photo.

  1. Pay attention to natural light
    For mobile phone photos, it is generally advisable not to use the flash, because photos taken with flash often appear overexposed, colors are not displayed correctly and people look much too pale.

Instead, try to use the ambient light as effectively as possible. This is also possible in the evening and at night. During the day, for example, light that falls through the window can be used to create shadows, and in the evening interesting silhouettes are created by the light from headlights and buildings.

You can then adjust the exposure of these photos using a photo editing app. Just make sure that the picture quality doesn’t suffer.

  1. Take pictures with flash only during the day
    In some situations, cell phone photos actually become more beautiful when taken with flash. However, this rarely applies to night shots. This is because the bright flash creates strong contrasts in the dark and makes objects appear unnaturally glaring.

On the other hand, when you take pictures with flash in the light, shadows behind or under your subject become softer.

The next time you want to photograph an object that casts a shadow, just turn on the flash. The result will surprise you! Since the automatic function is unlikely to trigger the flash in these cases, it is advisable to switch on the flash manually. Remember to deactivate it afterwards.

Below are two photos taken in daylight – the first without the flash, the second with. As you can see, the shadow in the photo with flash is much gentler. In addition, the details of the small figure are easier to see. This effect is particularly beneficial for product photos.

  1. Use a tripod
    It is so convenient to take photos with a smartphone because you always carry the device with you anyway, but for some shots it is worth using a tripod like the Joby model shown below. For example, if you want to take a photo yourself, but you don’t want to take a typical selfie, or for photos that require a very steady hand.

Tripods for mobile devices are usually extremely flexible and enable shots from any perspective. Plus, they’re neither heavy nor bulky – most are about the size of a smartphone. So you can easily take them anywhere. In the video below you will learn why you should definitely use a tripod, especially for video recordings with a smartphone.

  1. Adjust the exposure manually
    The same applies to the exposure as to the focus point: Always set it manually. When you tap the screen with your finger to determine the focus point, the exposure is automatically determined at the same time. However, the automatically selected setting is not always ideal here either.

It is therefore better to adjust the exposure manually. To do this, open your camera app and tap the screen. Thereupon not only the focus point is shown, but also a slider with which the exposure can be adjusted.

  1. Abstract motifs
    Abstract photos are pictures in which the photographed object is not clear or is not recognizable at first glance. Common objects are often chosen as the motif and then presented in a new and unusual way.

One way to do this is to get so close to an object that it is no longer recognizable as a whole. Alternatively, you can simply select an interesting section from one of your existing photos. Patterns such as the ones below are particularly suitable as motifs for abstract photos.

  1. Snapshots are often better than photos taken
    There are certainly situations in which photos are offered, for example to capture special occasions with family and / or friends or a chance encounter with a celebrity. But the best photos are often made when you pick up the camera spontaneously and unnoticed.

This is how authentic emotions can be captured that were not artificially created and therefore appear real and natural. The result: snapshots that are unique and inimitable in their expressiveness. An easy way to get good snapshots is to take as many photos as possible. Because the larger the selection, the higher the likelihood that a great photo will be included.

  1. Surprise your audience with original motifs
    The composition of the picture undoubtedly has a decisive impact on the effect of photos, but this also applies to the choice of the object. And ingenuity is often required. As you can see below, spontaneous inspiration and creative ideas often lead to fantastic photos. Always remember that photos can speak volumes and often have more meaning than any text. So photos are great for triggering specific reactions from your audience.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and impress your audience with original, unexpected motifs.

  1. Make your audience laugh
    The type of photo that works best in a particular case depends on what you are doing with it. For example, for funny photos, we usually remember them particularly well. Below you can see two successful examples of photos that will surely not be forgotten immediately. The photo of the lady in the colorful T-shirt with the inscription “Hi Hater” makes her viewer smile and also triggers admiration. Even the humorous, subtle criticism of the typical Instagram photos of attractively arranged dishes will make every viewer smile.
  1. Make sure the lens is clean
    In contrast to cameras, smartphones are usually stowed relatively unprotected in trousers or handbags.

This can cause dust and dirt to accumulate on the camera lens. These contaminants are not necessarily visible to the naked eye and if you only notice them when you are editing your photos, it is too late. So it is best to never take photos without first cleaning the lens (with a soft cloth).

  1. Use additional lenses
    With lenses, you can apply great special effects to photos. A whole range of different objects are available on the market that can easily be attached to the outside of the smartphone. The most popular are fisheye and wide angle lenses.
  1. Don’t be afraid to edit photos
    Post-processing of photos is actually an important, not to be underestimated step, with which you can significantly increase the quality of your pictures and significantly influence their effect. Filters are particularly suitable for two purposes – to hide minor blemishes and to make food photos look even more appetizing.

For example, to optimize portrait shots, use the filters of the Photos app (iPhone) or apps like Pho.to, with which portrait photos can be retouched automatically. Instagram also offers various filters for this purpose. For photos of culinary highlights, an app such as Foodie is recommended, which includes a whole series of special filters that were specially developed for the optimization of meal photos.


Given the wide range of photo and video editing apps, choosing one can be challenging. That’s why we recommend you to test a few apps, it is best to download one or two apps with a very good rating and test whether you get along well with them. If not, you can delete the app immediately.

Have we now piqued your interest in photography with a smartphone and would you like to find out more or take a real course to become an expert in photos with your smartphone? Then we can highly recommend this course here, it will really teach you everything you need to know to become a professional. The course goes deep into what you have to consider to become a professional with your smartphone. It is definitely worth it!

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