11 Mobile Photography Tips: How To Get Better Holiday Photos With Your Phone

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I own, as far as I know, at least eight functioning cameras. They all have their appropriate uses, their strengths, and their weaknesses. One is for when I need really high resolution. One can fly in the air. One can attach to my bike helmet, and one can shoot at 11 frames per second. But the one camera that I pretty much always have on me, of course, is the one in my cell phone. It’s not the best camera, but it sure is handy.

This is the time of year when most people are spending time with friends and family and taking a lot of photos with their phones. Whether it’s photos of your kids on Christmas day, a selfie of you kissing your boyfriend when the ball drops on New Years Eve, or just grabbing a quick shot of a plate of cookies your grandma made, here are some really quick tips on how to get the best photos with your phone during the holidays.

Look for light.

This is, of course, the biggest aspect of photography, so it’s the first on the list. No matter where you’re taking photos, and no matter what camera you’re using, the first thing you should do is look around you and look at where the light is coming from. It could be from lamps, or a window, from a ceiling fan overhead, or even just direct sun. Once you know the direction and quality of this light, you’ll already be on a path towards taking better photos.

When light is mainly coming from the top down, and isn’t diffused well (such as from a “can light”), you can get dark circles around the eyes from shadows coming from the person’s eyebrows as well as an overall dark face. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid, but can often be fixed by just having the subject take a couple of steps backwards to put the light in more in front of them, or even have them angle their faces up a little bit. If this is the only light around, using the phone’s flash might be your only recourse.

Another thing to remember to avoid is your subject being backlit. Unless you’re going for something artsy like a silhouette, you should generally never take a photo of people with their backs to the main light source. This gets rid of so much of the detail in the faces that it’s usually not even worth it to take the photo! When in this situation, just have them turn to face the light (put your back to the light!). It’s that simple.

Don’t forget about window light. The two suggestions above are easily fixed by having the subject face a window (during daytime, of course), or even by putting the window to the left or right of them. This is also a great way to get quick phone snaps of food or anything else you want a photo of. Stick it by a window, compose, and shoot. Easy.

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