Use Your Phone Camera like a Pro

First of all – most mobile phone cameras are currently good enough to take some really nice and good quality photos. You just need to know how to use them better. I will share some basic knowledge of how to measure light and help with composition using the tools your phone camera has already.

I’m using an iPhone, so sharing how to do it on an iPhone, but I’m sure it’s similar for all smartphones.

1. USE GRID TO GET BETTER COMPOSITION

Go to Settings > Camera > Grid and turn it on.

how to turn on the grid in iphone camera

This will allow you to see a grid of 2 by 2 lines, dividing your screen into 9 rectangles.

This is the basic rule of composition – the most important elements on your photo should either go along the lines or be positioned in the 4 intersections the lines create.

These are the lines/points that our eye is most drawn to. When you place an important element of a composition along the lines, it will create a feeling of balance, so sought after when taking photos most of the time. Usually you want people to focus on the subject of your photography and not get distracted by weird cropping.

main focus points on the portrait photo
Portrait of gorgeous Adi – you can see how placing one of her eyes along the composition line created a feeling of balance.

Remember also about the main 4 intersections – these are the most “powerful” points of the composition – they’re not too much on the sides and not too much in the center of the photo. Try placing an important element of the composition in one of them.

portrait main focus points grid
Portrait of Andrea – the very strong triangular shape created by her bend leg ends exactly in one of the main focal points.

2.BE THE MASTER OF LIGHT WITH ONE TAP

Tap on the element that’s the brightest on your photo, the camera will automatically adjust the light settings to make the rest of the frame darker. Another thing you can easily do: just tap on the screen and without raising your finger slide up or down – you will add/reduce exposure, meaning brightness of the photo. Especially useful when you’re taking photos in dark settings.

how to adjust camera brightness on your phone

Edit With Free Apps to Rule the Colors

1. VSCO – the most famous photo filters

VSCO started with their own app a while ago and quickly became THE app for editing photos – when you see Instagram influencers posting moody or vintage looking shots, high chances they are using VSCO.
The app comes in a free version with a limited amount of presets, which you can extend paying $19.99 for a yearly membership. What’s nice about these presets, apart from the wide variety of options, is that it allows you to control the amount of filter (from 0 to 12) and adjust other aspects of the photo like cropping, exposure, color, grain, fade. VSCO also has their own built-in camera option, so that you don’t even have to upload photos from your photos stream but take them directly within the app and edit immediately afterwards.

Selfie in the VSCO app with filter slider

2. Afterlight – when you want to get more funky

Afterlight offers you quite a good choice of filters (you can extend that with a premium membership for 3,49€ / month or 19,49€ / year) but the reason I’m mentioning it here is the ability to play with the photos afterwards: light leaks, color shifts and frames are available in the free option.

photo with light streak from afterlight
Portrait of Adi to which I added a matching light leak to create a bit spiced-up image.

3. Tezza – vintage look from a photographer and musician who rocks Instagram with her back-to-70s style

If you would like to experiment with the grungy look – Tezza offers addition of dust and grain to make it look like an old camera photo. There is a premium version as well, which allows you to add vintage-looking subtitles to your photos and videos, as well as wider range of filter choices ($1.99 /month or  $19.99 /year).

photo edited with tezza app filters
Tezza App can help you turn everyday bedroom setting into a vintage style boudoir feel – photo with added grain and dust.

If you have your favorite free apps that you use – please share them with me and I will add to the list! Let’s create together 🙂