Stay-At-Home Activity: Improve Smartphone Photography

Improving a skill can be a great way to combat that stay-at-home stir crazy feeling. With these simple tips and some handy photo app features, you can take advantage of your time at home to take your smartphone photography to the next level. After all, there’s no better time to up your social media game than when you’re social distancing.

Clean the lens

It may seem obvious, but one easy way to improve your smartphone photography is to make sure your lens is smudge-free. Whether you use a special lens cloth or the hem of your t-shirt, cleaning off any dirt or oil on the lens will make your photos look crisp and clear right away. You might also consider buying a case with a protective lens cover, like the LifeProof Fre Case.


High dynamic range (more commonly known as HDR) is a pro-level feature that lets you take multiple images at once. HDR combines the best lighting, exposure and balance from all of them to deliver you the best shot possible.

Try a simple composition

The best photographs are simple and powerful. Focus on a primary subject (your cat, perhaps?) and arrange the photo around it. Leave out unnecessary visual distractions if you can.

Use the Rule of Thirds

The golden rule of composition is the Rule of Thirds: position your main subject a third of the way within the frame to give the photo added visual interest. Many smartphone cameras come with a helpful grid function, so you can easily place your subject along two gridlines.

Try leading lines

A quick shortcut for creating visual depth in a photograph is to use leading lines. These are lines that carry your eye through a photograph, like the lines of floorboards leading toward a doorway. Leading lines give your photograph movement and direction to help engage the eye, even if the subject of your photo is seemingly ordinary, as in a still-life.

Add a filter

Using a filter – either before or after shooting – can transform the tone and feeling of your photo. Try an artsy black and white shot to create a sense of melancholy or nostalgia or choose a color-saturated filter to bring out the beauty of a backyard sunset.

Look for different perspectives

Sometimes all you need for a great shot is to approach it from a different point of view. Experiment with close-up shots by zooming in with your camera. If that’s not enough, just move your feet. Walk as close as you can to your subject, then try shooting from both high and low angles until you find the best shot.

Pay attention to the light

They call it the golden hour for a reason. Shoot late in the day or early in the morning for more flattering light. Identify your primary light source and position your subject so that the light hits them from the front, not behind. The rest of the day, look for areas of shade that reduce vertical light and allow a softer horizontal light to illuminate your subject.

For portraits or photos of food, try using a small LED light to brighten the areas of your image where you want to draw the viewer’s eye.

Correct images and remove flaws

 Sometimes even a well-composed photo needs help. Perfect your pictures after the fact by color correcting and removing flaws like red eye. You can make these corrections with photo editing apps like Snapseed or VSCO, or simply use your smartphone’s built-in photo app. Most smartphones have presets to make it quick and easy, but you can also manually tweak many settings if the out-of-the-box options aren’t quite perfect.

When you’re stuck at home, your smartphone is a crucial lifeline for staying connected and staying entertained. Check out the latest devices with the most cutting-edge camera technology from U.S. Cellular®.