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15 quick tips for taking better photos and videos on your phone

Tips for taking better photos and videos with

Tips for taking better photos and videos with your phone. Credit: iStock

From snapping selfies and action shots to capturing poses on the beach and fireworks, we found the best tips to help you take better photos and videos on your phone. Take a look:

1. Zoom with your feet. Zooming with your phone will reduce image quality and, if you’re shooting video, make shakiness more prevalent. Instead, walk closer to your subject.

2. Find an interesting angle. Pointing and shooting will only get you so far — get low, take a step to the right, do something else besides shooting your subject flat on.

3. Set your focus and exposure with a tap. Beach shots can be too bright, especially when a light-colored shirt or pasty skin is in your view finder. If you tap on the brightest spot of your photo, your iPhone will dial down the exposure. Tapping on your subject will set the focus, as well.

4. Get close when shooting video. Wind and distance are not friends with the little mic in your mobile device. Get close to your subject for a clearer sound.

5. Know the rule of thirds. Video and stills look better when you don’t place your subject dead center in a photo (most of the time — creative license may overrule this). Imagine a grid on your screen that breaks it into three equal parts wide and three equal parts tall. Always place your subject on one of the lines in the grid.

6. Avoid using flash, if possible. It often just creates a bad lighting experience, and people get red-eye. Try to get the subject in some kind of natural light — if you’re outside, maybe just find a street light and use the editing tools built into your phone. You can also use an app like Instagram to play around with the brightness and contrast. You can even add special effects. If you have to use the flash, try to put a piece of printer paper over the flash to diffuse the light and reduce redeye.

7. Avoid using the zoom. It can make the image blurry. If you can’t physically get closer, it’s better to just take the photo and then zoom into whatever you want to focus on by cropping.

8. Be sure to focus. This may seem obvious, but always give your phone a few seconds to focus to avoid blurry photos.

9. Adjust the brightness. One trick for making details in your photos “pop” is to adjust the brightness after taking the picture. Look for the “light” setting on your iPhone. This will make shots look more dramatic.

10. Choose horizontal. Horizontal photos are usually better than vertical ones, but if you plan to upload the picture to Instagram, be mindful that people on the ends of a wide shot could get cut off. So either leave extra space in the photo or shoot vertically.

11. Try a photo app. Free apps like photo gene, or, if you have iOS7 or later, use the edit button and the magic-wand tool to tune brightness, vibrance, saturation and more.

12. Hold your phone horizontally when shooting video. Holding the phone sideways allows for full-screen shots without the two black bars you would get if shooting vertically.

13. Don’t take photos in front of windows if indoors. Shooting in a dark area in front of a light source will make the subject “backlit” — the camera will focus on the light source rather than the subject. This also applies on bright and sunny days, and when shooting sunsets.

14. Be mindful of Instagram filters. Don’t oversaturate or over-sharpen your images. They may look OK on your phone, but when they’re blown up on a computer or on Facebook, they look grainy, pixelated and over-edited. Too much filter is a no-no.

15. Take better selfies. Never look down into a camera held below your face. That results in notoriously unflattering poses. But hey, if you can pull it off, go for it.


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