5 Reasons Why Your Phone Photos are Meh

& How to Fix It

We’ve all been there — you snap a photo with your cell phone, and it just doesn’t look quite right. Maybe it’s too blurry, or the subject isn’t quite centered, or the lighting is just plain awful. Fear not, for we have compiled a list of five reasons why your cell phone photos may not be up to par. With a little bit of know-how and a few simple tricks, you’ll be taking stunning photos in no time.


If you find yourself wanting to zoom in, you need to take a few steps forward instead. Even more influential than the Moon landing, learning to take one small step forward — or one giant leap, if needed — will make the world of a difference in your photos. Using a digital zoom (otherwise known as the finger pinching) can often result in a loss of image quality — unless you are switching between different lenses with different focal lengths. You can switch between lenses on your iPhone by using the numbers right above the shutter button (this also depends on how many cameras are on the back of your iPhone). But, getting in the habit of taking a couple extra steps in the subject’s direction will make a big difference when composing your photos.


No, you don’t have to stand in front of an orchestra. We’re talking about how you set up your photo. What’s the main focal point, what’s in the background, what’s in the foreground, where the focal point is in the frame, and so on. A common trick is the rule of thirds. You can turn on the grid feature to help visualize the thirds. Essentially, it’s more visually appealing when the focal point is in a third of the frame. So, if you can picture someone standing in front of a nice landscape, it will look much better to have them situated off to the left or right third, with the landscape out of focus to the opposite side. You’ll (hopefully) never slap your subject right in the middle of your frame again.


Understanding light is one of the single most important elements in photography, period. Getting a good idea of how you want light to interact with your photo before taking it is key. Do you want to slightly silhouette? Do you want the subject lit evenly? Questions like these should be answered before snapping off any pics. If you want the subject to be lighted evenly, the light source should be pointing directly at the subject, without anything obstructing it. Another option, for softer lighting, is to find some shade or, better yet, something that diffuses the light like a window. Want that slight silhouette look? Place the subject between you and the light source.


We see this all the time. Nothing ruins a cell phone photo or video like a big, blurry splotch of who knows what over your photo. The solution is simple: just give that lens a good ol’ wipe down before snapping your masterpiece. For a phone, a simple T-shirt will do. You’ll be amazed at the difference in clarity after this simple step.


When you tap to focus on your screen, you’ll see that little sun icon with an option to slide up and down. That’s the exposure. The automatic settings on phones can be amazing, but sometimes they don’t quite nail our desired look. Say you’re shooting a sunrise and want to get a silhouette of a person standing in front of you. When you tap to focus on the subject, it will expose for them. The result? Unwanted detail of the subject and a likely overexposed background. For this situation, try reducing the exposure — after focusing — to make your subject black for the desired silhouette and to get a clear look of the sun rising in the background. The opposite rule may apply when you want to increase exposure for an image before shooting.

There you have it:

Five simple reasons why your cell phone photos might be falling flat. Remember to move your body, not your zoom, pay attention to composition, understand natural light, al- ways wipe your lens, and make use of exposure to achieve the desired effect. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to taking amazing photos that will impress your friends, family and Instagram followers.

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