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Planning a summer vacation or just looking to document those precious life moments? Check out these tips on how to take good cell phone photos!
I have always been an avid photographer. In fact, I can remember being a teenager and getting my first “real” camera that wasn’t a point and shoot and nothing about it was automatic.
I had to learn how to adjust the settings and practice a lot to get to a point where I could take beautiful photos and not waste precious, expensive film. Often my photography lessons where while on vacation, and I was taught by my Dad and Grandfather who both where award winning photographers. In addition to photography, scrapbooking became another passion, as I loved preserving all those special photos I took. But then life changed, as it often does, and I stopped working on my photography skills.
That was one thing I loved about starting a blog, was picking up a camera again. However, due to the lack of practice and the change of subject matter, food instead of people and landscapes, became my focus. In fact, I became so focused on food photography, that I forgot to capture and document anything in my life besides food. LOL! So, for 2017 one of my goals was to take more pictures of everyday life and special occasions, especially experiencing life with friends and family.
I started working on this goal by hauling my nice, fancy, yet big and bulky, DSLR camera everywhere I went. But I always felt like my DSLR was too bulky to carry on our adventures and I was constantly messing with the camera settings to get the perfect shot, which was causing me to miss out on all the fun.
Using my cell phone to capture all the fun moments in life was certainly more convenient, however, my old cell phone took grainy pictures and really didn’t have the capacity to store all those photos or have enough battery life to handle a day out on the town.
Not only did my old phone take grainy photos and run low on the battery life quickly, it was big and bulky and I had trouble making or receiving calls. So I recently, while on one of my regular shopping trips to Sam’s Club, stopped by the Sam’s Club Mobility Center and invested in the new Samsung Galaxy S8.
With the GS8 you can create the “bokeh effect” which is where the object closer to the lens is clear and in focus and the background is blurry. To create this effect, choose selective focus, by swiping right on the screen when in the camera setting. Tap the object, which should be at least 20 inches from the cell phone camera, to make that object in focus and the background blurry. Once the photo is taken, you can adjust the focus to near or far focus.
I instantly feel in love with the many features of this phone, from it’s sleek and slender design, to the Infinity Screen, which stretches from edge to edge, giving you the most amount of screen in the least amount of space; but mostly, because of my goal to take more photos of life’s precious moments, I was super impressed with the camera on this phone! Not only does this the Samsung Galaxy S8 take super clear, DSLR quality pictures, the storage capacity (64GB) and the long battery life, make it perfect for taking pictures all day every day.
Since owning my Samsung Galaxy S8, we have gone on a few weekend getaways and instead of packing my DSLR, I’ve only used my cell phone to capture the fun! And guess what? Next month, when we embark on our summer vacation, I know I’ll be using my GS8 the entire time since I can slip it in my back pocket and head out to explore the world!
Since I know many of you don’t own a DLSR camera, or are like me, and don’t want to bust it out while on vacation since it is so big and bulky, I thought today I would share some tips on how to take good pictures on your cell phone!
How To Take Good Cell Phone Photos
1. Invest in a good cell phone – Having a cell phone, like the Samsung Galaxy S8, that actually takes good photos is, of course, key to taking good photos using your cell phone! Not only does the GS8 take clear photos, it has the capability to zoom in (without getting grainy), has rear and front facing cameras, and has Panorama, slow motion, wide selfie, motion photo and Hyperlapse settings. You can also take photos in raw (just like a DSLR) and add things like stickers, location and the date to your photos and photo gallery.
2. Get to know your cell phone settings – Whether planning a vacation or looking to use your cell phone to document another special event, play around with your cell phone and get to know the photo settings before the day of the event. The GS8 can take great pictures in the auto mode, but also has the ability to go “pro” where you can adjust the ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and exposure level, making it possible to take professional quality photos using your smartphone.
In general, photos are best taken in natural light without the flash. I try to avoid direct sunlight and prefer to take pictures in the “golden hour,” which is first thing in the morning or late afternoon/early evening when the sun is rising or setting. If you do have to take pictures in the middle of the day/in direct sunlight, try to move your subject matter to a shaded area.
For selfies, use the “voice control” setting, which takes a picture by saying “cheese”, “capture” etc., without having to press a button the capture button.
With the GS8 you can also apply filters to your images, like to make your photos black and white or add text or face masks to your photos. You can also apply “beauty” settings to your selfies to smooth your skin, lighten your eyes or brighten the photo. And if you like to take food photos or love the bokeh effect (selective focus), there are even settings for these types of photos.
To take a “jumping” photo (which is super popular right now) have the picture taker hold the white photo button down from a few seconds before the person jumps until after they land. You will then get a collection of photos that are a “burst” shot and you can click on the photo you want to save and use. For awesome “jumping” photos, remind the subject to smile and to jump moving their arms and legs around, since jumping up and down doesn’t yield a great jumping photo.
3. Invest in some equipment – While not totally necessary, I highly recommend investing in some additional equipment to help take good cell phone photos. Using a lens cloth (or in a pinch, your shirt or napkin) to wipe the lens is a simple trick to ensure a good photo. Since we are always using our phones, finger prints, sweat or food, can often cover the camera lens and cause photos to be blurry. Quickly wiping the lens before snapping your picture is key to a great photo.
While it may seem silly, investing in a selfie stick or tripod for your cell phone can help ensure more scenery is included when taking a group shot, and are really helpful especially if you don’t have other people around to help take your photos. A tripod also helps hold the cell phone still, which helps stabilize the camera and produce clear and/or hands free photos. If you don’t have a tripod, hold your cell phone with both hands or prop your phone against a wall to help take a clear photo.
As I mentioned, the GS8 already comes with a great amount of storage, but if you do plan to take a lot of pictures with your cell phone, I suggested buying a Micro SD Card to expand your storage up to 256GB. This will give you plenty of room for not only photos, but games, music, audio books and more!
And while the GS8 has a long battery life, snapping photos all day and sharing them on social media will quickly drain your phone. Purchasing a Fast Wireless Charger to quickly power up your phone without plugging it in, is another great tool for using your phone to take vacation photos.
4. Take photos at different angles/viewpoints – Taking photos from different angles and viewpoints can really enhance your cell phone photos. Instead of taking photos straight on, try kneeling down or lying on the ground, climbing to the top of a hill, or going on the roof top of a building to take your photo.
In addition taking pictures from different view points, shoot photos in both horizontal and vertical. This not only gives you photos that can be used for different purposes, but bringing the camera closer to the subject matter in a horizontal photo can block out the background that may be filled with strangers or traffic.
Remember the rule of thirds and fill the frame. Image a grid, like a tic-tack-toe board, and let the main subject of the photo fall on intersecting lines. In fact, you can adjust the camera settings on the GS8 to include “3×3” lines which will make these “grid lines” appear on the phone screen, to make following the rule of thirds easier.
Also, don’t be afraid to bring your GS8 near water (it has a IP68 water resistant rating, which means it can handle a splash or accidental dunk) to get that perfect shot of the kids jumping in the pool. I also like using the selective focus setting so that I can take close up, in focus photos of say food, while still seeing some of the setting/view in the background.
5. Take photos that tell a story – I often think that when we take photos when traveling or at special events, we have to take the standard “group photo” with everyone smiling and facing the camera. And while these photos are great, they only tell part of the story. Taking photos of the landscape, both close up of things (like of flowers or statues) and in panoramic view, can help tell the story and capture those moments and views that you want to always remember.
I also like taking fun and candid shots of people. Instead of a posed shot, taking pictures of your family members genuinely laughing, jumping for joy, running or from afar as they go and explore the world around them, can help tell the story. A landscape photo with a person staring in awe of a waterfall or a silhouette of children playing on the beach as the sun sets, can show scale when trying to photograph large buildings and natural landmarks, and is much more moving and an overall better photo than having everyone face the camera.
Also, don’t forget to take photos of those special meals you enjoyed, your pets, the unique works of art that you spotted while you explored a new city, or even the book you read or souvenirs you bought so that you can remember all the little details of your adventure.
6. Edit your photos – So far I’ve found that the photos I’ve taken with my GS8 require little or no editing, however, if a photo I take does need a little bit of editing, I love that I can edit my photo right in my photo gallery on my phone (no extra app requires). Editing options on the GS8 include the ability rotate or flip the photo, adjust the brightness, exposure, contrast, saturation and color, add stickers and text and even soften blemishes or slim your face in a selfie. After I quickly edit my photo right in my photo gallery, I can then share my photo on social media and/or email it or text it to a friend or family member!
7. Look to others for inspiration and practice, practice, practice! – One thing that has helped me with both my food photography as well as travel and portrait photography, is following other photographers and bloggers on social media. Looking at these accounts and admiring others’ work has helped me look at the world around me differently and thus helped me take better photos. Plus, taking tons and tons of photos every day doesn’t hurt either!
I hope you found this How To Take Good Cell Phone Photos tutorial useful! What adventure are you planning that you will use these cell phone photography tips?
If you are looking to take better cell phone photos, I highly recommend stopping by the Sam’s Club Mobility Center during the Sam’s Club August 5th VIP event and purchasing the Samsung Galaxy S8 or GS8+ (which is even more expansive and has Samsung’s biggest screen yet). At the Sam’s Club Mobility Center you can buy cell phone accessories, purchase a new line, change your cellular carrier or upgrade your phone. And on August 5th, get a $350 Sam’s Club Gift card (as part of an installment contract)* with the purchase of a Samsung Galaxy S8 or GS8+, which is a HUGE savings!
Disclaimer: *One gift card per activation on installment. Limit five gift cards per membership. Gift card will be provided at the time of activation and may not be used toward same transaction or to pay for membership fee, or select services. Subject to all terms of Sam’s Club Mobile Secondary Retail Agreement. This offer may not be combined with any other offer promotion. Limited time availability. Offers subject to change. Carriers, coverage, and products may vary by location. Devices may require select plan and data subscriptions, credit approval, activation fee and termination fees. Upgrade eligibility may vary. 4G not available in all markets. See club for details. This offer is not valid online. Limit of five phones per membership.