How to take better photos on your mobile devices

Even as a professional photographer and freelance photojournalist, even I find myself often getting out my mobile phone to take a photo, rather than my DSLR.  Recently I bought the new iPhoneX which after using it for over a month now, I’ve found it the best mobile device I’ve used for its camera capabilities after testing various brands over the past year.

The iPhoneX features an impressive 12MP, f/2.4 camera and is capable of taking some stunning shots.  To get the best out of your mobile device, whatever the make and to take better photos, I’ve put together a list of my top five tips. (Look out for my blog on the iPhoneX).


Turn on HDR auto

Most makes and models of smart phones over the past few years have this option, Apple’s default camera app on the iPhoneX features a shooting mode called HDR (High Dynamic Range).

HDR works by taking multiple photos at different levels of exposure and then merging them together to produce the final image.  This option is perfect for when you shoot in high contrast light such as sunlight, or when you are a t a concert.

The best option, certainly on the iPhone is to switch HDR to auto rather than keeping it permanently on, as the iPhone, even as far back as the iPhone 6 is very good at working out when HDR is needed.

Take photos with your volume button

Keeping a steady hand when taking photos on your mobile device can tricky when having to touch the screen to capture the shot, leading to shaky or blurry results. So the best option is to use your mobile device, just as you would use a normal compact camera and use the button on the side of your mobile device (this is the volume button on iPhone – other devices may use a different button on side of device), you can use the volume up button along the edge of the iPhone to take your photo, which will let you keep two hands steadily on your device.

Don’t be afraid of the grid

In the world of photography, we use a term called ‘Rule of Thirds’, which is a term that any keen photographer will know the meaning of.  Basically the term applies to the composition of your image.  The rule says your image should be divided into nine equal segments by two horizontal and two vertical lines and that the important compositional elements of your image should be placed along these lines, such as seen in the photo example.

In your mobile devices manual camera settings, you will find the option to place the grid on your screen whilst you take your photo.  Using this application is a great way to avoid having wonky photos and if you are a novice, a great way to get used to understanding composition when taking a photo.

4. The use of photography/editing apps

In truth, the iPhone SE’s default camera app is great. It’s clearly something Apple have invested a lot of time into fine tuning. However, there are a huge number of third party camera and photo editing apps that are worth considering if you’re looking to improve your smartphone photography.

Your phones standard camera settings


If you’re confident tweaking some of the more advanced camera settings such as ISO, white balance, shutter speed and exposure then the Manual camera app is certainly worth playing with. It gives you full control over all the above settings, letting you tinker to your heart’s content.


Another camera app we’ve recommended in the past is VSCO. Like Manual, it lets you alter a range of manual controls, but it also has a selection of subtle filters capable of producing some impressive results.

Editing apps

Gone are the days where you’d have to transfer images from your phone to your laptop or PC to edit them with a vast array of editing apps available on the App Store. Notable apps include Pixlr and Adobe’s Photoshop Express and Photoshop Mix, stripped back mobile versions of their popular desktop editing software which let you perform basic edits to contrast, brightness, image size etc, while Google’s Snapseed is a more feature-packed editing app with a simple interface, letting you fine tune your photos and choose from a host of artistic effects.

Mobile device photography accessories

The smartphone photography accessory market is growing fast, and there are plenty of accessories compatible with the iPhone that can help you take better photos.


Full-Size Tripods:


Mini Tripods:

Another must for any photographer worth their salt is a good tripod, and there are plenty of smartphone tripods available which are compatible with an iPhone or any mobile device. The Kenu Stance is a nice and portable tripod, while the PolarPro Trippler offers an altogether more professional solution with an extendable pole and grip.

Tripod/Mobile Phone Attachment

Lens clips

Lens clips such as the 3-in-1 kit from Olixar, are a neat way of adding some creativity to your snaps. You can clip on fish-eye, macro and wide angle lenses onto the back of your iPhone to instantly enhance photography through your usual camera app. You get a neat little carry case so you can take your lenses with you on your travels too.


While the iPhone has a reasonably capable flash bulit-in, it has its limitations, so an external flash such as the iBlazr is worth considering if you’re keen to improve your night-time and low light photography. It features 4 ‘high power’ LED lights and simply plugs into your iPhone SE’s headphone jack to illuminate your photo subject. Another accessory worthy of a mention here is the LuMee Selfie Light case, which has built in LED lights to create a luminous frame around your iPhone SE and help you take brighter and more vibrant selfies.


Another must for any photographer worth their salt is a good tripod, and there are plenty of smartphone tripods available which are compatible with an iPhone. The Kenu Stance is a nice and portable tripod, while the PolarPro Trippler offers an altogether more professional solution with an extendable pole and grip.

Selfie sticks

Love them or loathe them, selfie sticks are a thing now and while many mock, if you’re a serial selfie taker then they are genuinely useful accessories. The Olixar Pocketsize Selfie Stick is a good travel option, retracting to just 170mm when not in use, or if you’re more outdoorsy and adventurous the DiCaPac Action Waterproof Selfie Stick is probably your best bet.

To see the full range of photography accessories available for the iPhone, hit the link below.

So there we have it, five ways to start taking better photos on your iPhone. If you’ve got any other helpful tips and tricks, or want to show off some of your own photos taken with an iPhone, either comment below or find us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram!

Published by mikebuss

Former British Soldier and Professional World Record Breaking Ultra Endurance Athlete... Now Freelance Photojournalist and co-owner of smmb media UK. Photojournalist - Adventurer - Athlete - Fitness Professional - PR & Marketing Contact:

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