9 Super Easy Smartphone Photo Tips & Apps

Guest post by Lisa Herbik, a friend of Lynn’s since 2008 and creator of the online wall mural store at Artistichomeowner.com.

Smartphones have really changed the way people take photos. I go to Aruba every fall with family and friends, and I don't pack my bulky Nikon anymore. Since my phone is super handy, easy to tote and takes great pictures, it's my go-to for on the go photos.

Not only are smartphone cameras great for creating fantastic memories in your everyday life and on your travels, but you can also use it to create your own photos to illustrate blog posts or for your social media updates.

So let me convince you to leave your bulky camera at home from now on! Here are 9 easy tips and some great (free!) apps to keep your smartphone serving you well and taking great pictures while you're out & about!

1. Get Up Close and Personal

The small sensor on your phone is great for detailed close-up shots, which can actually be quite difficult for traditional cameras with longer lenses. So snap away at fun found natural objects while you're out- shells, stones, etc., or heck, even your cool manicure!


2. Skip the Flash.

The LED flash on smartphones is very close to the camera lens, and can often result in harsh-looking photos or your friends with the dreaded red eye look. It can also make images look washed-out or blurry.

A better choice may be to seek out an alternate light source for a low-light picture. Here's an example showing a better photo with the flash off:

Off Camera and On Camera Flashsource

3. Keep Your Lens Clean.

Wipe your lens at least weekly with a soft cloth to keep dirt, grime and fingerprints at bay. Smartphone camera lenses are remarkably durable, so don't be afraid to give it a once over with your T shirt if you are in a pinch ;-).

4. Use the Rule of Thirds.

This is a simple rule of thumb for photography composition that helps you easily take great pictures with the use of a tic-tac-toe grid. All you have to do is place your subject along any of the areas where the grid lines intersect.

Most smartphones have a grid feature that you can turn on. (The grid is also useful to make sure your horizon line is level.)


5. Use your Auto Focus .

This is very easy to do. Simply touch a specific area of the screen to focus the camera. This may show up as a square field. When you touch the square, your smartphone automatically adjusts the exposure. Nice!

6. Hurray for Rain!

Well sort of πŸ˜‰ Don't let less than perfect weather dampen your spirits when it comes to picture-taking. Did you know that you get better pictures on cloudy and overcast days? Days that look gloomy in real life actually translate beautifully as pictures!

7. Keep the Sun at Your Back.

Another super simple hint for great photos is to always keep the sun at your back. Stand with the sun behind you and let the light of the sun fall on your subjects.

8. Step In.

Most people instinctively step back when taking a photo, in an effort to "get everything in". But if you can resist that urge and step in toward your subject, 9 time out of 10 you will get a better shot. You might have to try this a few times to get used to it, but the results will speak for themselves...

9. Take a Ton!

When you have a great shot, snap different angles and heights. Why take just one when even a slightly different angle can make a big difference. You definitely want to take multiple shots when photographing people, since getting the smiles right and everyone's eyes open is usually a challenge.

Remember, you can always delete later, so snap away to your heart's content!

Last but not least, here are some fun photo apps for iOS and and Android that are completely free:

Photoshop Express- from the people who basically created photo-editing, this is a must have, in my opinion.

Instagram - creates cool vintage-looking photos. Also one the most popular social sharing photo sites today. And here are 50 Instagram Photo Gift Ideas you can make with your favorite pics πŸ™‚

GifBoom - creates animated gifs from your photos or videos. Yes, you can now be a gif. πŸ™‚ Remember Lynn showing us her awesome waterskiing skills last summer? Well I took the liberty and turned her into a gif. Go Lynn! πŸ™‚


Have you ever used your smartphone to take pictures to illustrate your own blog posts, or for social media updates? Were you happy with the results? Leave a comment below - and be sure to let us know about YOUR favorite photo apps too!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Congrats on your 10th year blogging anniversary Lynn, and thanks for the guest post! I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say it's high time for a new waterskiing video! πŸ˜€

  2. Thanks for the great guest post and tips, which I applied immediately!

  3. Thanks for sharing these tips. I didn't even know about the grid feature (#4)!
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  4. Louie Sison says:

    Hi Lisa,

    This post revived my hope that I can still use a smartphone for my blog instead of buying an expensive one. Appreciate your encouragement!

  5. Hi Louie,

    I'm so glad you liked it. I'm sure your smartphone will be more than "good enough" πŸ˜‰ Best of luck on your blog and thank you for the comment!

  6. Jenny Deiser says:

    The photos are great. My kids just got smartphones and they are already taking some amazing photos. I'll have to share these ideas with them and consider getting apps.

  7. Hi Jenny,

    Sounds like you have some budding photographers there! Thank you for the comment πŸ™‚

  8. Thanks for putting these rules of thumb into one place. For me a "Rule of Third" used to mean to always take at least THREE photographs (you see this with journalists and fashion shoots) of every scene, then pick the best later. But this "golden proportion" rule may be even more important and I never thought about it consciously. I have to check with older "good" shots if, when I place a grid over it, it actually turns out to be the reason these look better than the others!

  9. Thanks for the great tips Lynn. It saved me from buying professional camera. Rule of thirds and skipping flash were my fave takeaways!

  10. These are really great tips ! Saved the cost of a additional camera ! Thanks and congrats on your 10th blogging anniversary

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