Smartphone Photography in Focus

This year, as we celebrate 15 years in business, we’ve made self-promotion a higher priority here at Caliber. We’re guilty of the same crime that many agencies fall victim to – not practicing what we preach. In our social media bootcamps we stress the importance of providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of each company to showcase their brand’s personality. This type of personalized access has proven to increase engagement with customers and fans. A great way to provide this access is by sharing candid photographs of your team at work, participating in community involvement projects or company social functions. The missing piece is how to capture those candid moments successfully, without the benefit of having a full-time photographer following you around.

Almost everyone in our agency carries a smartphone (or two) and we whip them out, snap a photo or video, thinking we’ve captured the moment. It looks great on your phone, right? Only later when we upload the photos to Facebook or Instagram, do we realize the poor quality of the image. What message is that sending to our clients or potential clients? I’ve been researching smartphone tips (There are a lot of them out there!) and trying to pare them down to a useable list.

These tips are meant for the amateur smartphone photographer:

  • Get to know your phone. Don’t wait for the moment that you need to/want to capture to understand what your phone can do. That seems like a no brainer, but I found many articles discussing the variety of photography options, including shutter speed, zoom and camera access icon placement different phones offer. Know your phone. Practice with it and get comfortable with your options.
  • Customize the camera icon placement so that it is in the most convenient location on your phone. Don’t miss that perfect moment because you are searching through your phone settings or applications to find what you need.
  • Clean the lens. This is another easy tip that might make a difference to your photo quality. Think about all your cell phone endures in a day. That lens needs some tender loving care. A microfiber cleaning cloth works well, but your T-shirt will do in a pinch.
  •  Keep the camera steady! If your phone is equipped with an image stabilization feature, be sure to turn it on. Lean your body against a wall or prop your elbows on a table before taking the photo to keep your body stable. Hold the phone with both hands and use your thumb to press the camera button.
  • We all know that lighting is the key to all good photographs. Natural light is best, but consider using your flash, even in the daytime, if you are experiencing shadows in your images.  It will also better fill and image in, brighten colors and sharpen the look.
  • Look before you snap. Really take a second to look at what you are about to photograph. Is it composed well or does it appear that your boss has a tree growing out of his head? Is the image level or tilted?
  • Moving closer for the shot produces noticeable better results than zooming in on your subject with your smartphone camera.
  • Consider using a better camera application like Camera Awesome or Camera+.
  • There are many editing programs available, but to avoid looking like every other smartphone photographer out there using the same filters, check out SnapSeed, PhotoShop Express or iPhoto.

While there are much more in-depth guides to help you figure out the exact setting options available for you, this list of quick fixes should improve the quality of your smartphone photography. We’re going to take these tips and implement them for our own efforts and we hope you find value in them as well!

For more detailed information on phone settings, lighting, shutter speed,  and other technical aspects please see these following articles on this subject:, CNET, AllThingsDigital and PCWorld.

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