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The Ultimate Guide to Smartphone Photography (96 Best Tips)

Last updated: November 12, 2023 - 22 min read
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Smartphone photography is taking pictures with your phone. It could be an iPhone or Android, old or new.

If you have a smartphone, you’re more than half-way there. You might need an app or two, an extra set of lenses and a power bank.

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What Is Smartphone Photography?

Your best camera is the one that is always with you. For most of us, and when it comes to smartphone photography, that means our smartphone.

It is small enough to fit in your pocket and lightweight enough it won’t break your back.

Mobile photography or iPhoneography is for snapping those precious moments. We use it to capture the world around us.

From friends and family, to travel landscapes. Not to mention all the food we eat. Nothing is safe from the quick snap of a smartphone camera.

Smartphone photography is a great way to capture anything that catches your photographer’s eye. Both candid images and planned shots are possible.

Browse through our complete guide, then read it in depth. We’ll provide you with all you need to know. It’s time to take advantage of the smartphone camera you’re always carrying around!

A person taking a photo of the Eiffel tower with a smartphone
Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels

Smartphone Possibilities

iPhone Vs. Android

The smartphone world can be divided into two groups: IOS and Android-based in devices.

iPhone is the only company that uses iOS. Whereas there are many smartphone manufacturers that use the Android operating system.

One thing that sets the iPhone apart is the many accessories you can buy and use. The Android side of the family lacks in this department.

On the flip side, Androids’ technology is rapidly evolving, as it needs to compete with the Apple giant.

Read our detailed iPhone vs Android comparison here to figure out which one suits you better.

a person shooting a street portrait with a smartphone camera

Does the Camera Matter: SLR, Mirrorless & Smartphone

It will always be better to have a camera rather than none.

Many people might not want to take their 1.7kg DSLR and lens with them all the time. Your phone sits in your pocket at an unnoticeable 140g.

One situation where a smartphone is helpful is having web images immediately. No resizing needed.

Using Facebook, a blog post or dedicated website photo, your images will be around 700px.

This is where your 22MP DSLR, 16MP Mirrorless or 12MP phone images all become reduced to the same size.

Read here for more information whether your camera really matters (spoiler -It doesn’t!)

A Minolta camera on a desk
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels

12 iPhone Photography Tips for Better Photos

Smartphones are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you will ever own. Apart from making calls, it is your way to the World Wide Web on the move.

It can store all your photographs. You can use it to write things down and can store your location. Geotagging is also very handy when it comes to your photography.

As an avid photographer, you will need to scout locations. Or you might come across an area without your camera.

Geotagging will also allow you to save your exact location when you are abroad. But this is not the only iPhone photography hack we reveal. Read on for more.
A screenshot of using the iphone map to scout landscape photography locations

Moto Z Smartphone

It was only a matter of time before smartphone cameras replaced the daily use of other cameras, such as DSLRs.

Who wants to carry around all that junk when you have an excellent camera in your pocket?

One problem with this is ergonomics. While the design of cameras has developed to sit in your hands, smartphones haven’t.

They are thin bricks of glass, metal, and plastic. The Hasselblad True Zoom joined with the Moto Z and came up with a solution for this shortcoming.

A point and shoot camera that sticks to a smartphone. Reading is believing, so start believing here.

Moto Z Smartphone
Photo by John Tekeridis

Smartphone Phone Gear

Best Smartphone / iPhone Camera Lens

When it comes to your smartphone camera, your perspective is limited. In the days where iPhoneography was a new thing, you had to zoom using your feet.

Nowadays, there are some wonderful (and weird) lenses. These will help you capture stunning images.

Macro, wide-angle and telephoto lenses are available. But so are adapters for DSLR lenses.

These are great when moving isn’t an option. Read here for the best lenses your money can buy.

pro cinema wide G4 phone lens

What Is the Best Macro Lens for iPhone Photography

Talking about lenses for smartphone photography, we cannot forget about macro lenses. Your phone is almost always with you, and it is a perfect choice for taking pictures of tiny subjects.

But to end up with stunning macro photos, you need a macro lens for your phone. Read our article and find out what is the best macro lens for iPhone photography.

Olloclip Essential Macro Premium Glass Kit

Case Recommendations for Smartphone Photography

Everyone needs to have a cellphone case. Why on earth would you spend hundreds of dollars on a fragile phone, made from glass, and not protect it?

If you are photographing using your cellphone, why not get a specific case. There are some particularly designed for smartphone photography.

Have a look at the case made by Moment. They are premiere lens makers, and this case incorporates their lens right into it.

It has a better grip than the phone, and even comes with a wrist strap. For more case recommendations, read here.
A person holding a smartphone with a brightly colored case

11 Essential iPhone Camera Accessories to Buy

There are many accessories that will help your smartphone photography. Investing in a selfie stick or a tripod is always helpful.

But there are other useful accessories that can improve your iPhone photography. For example, you can buy a lighting kit if you are unhappy with your smartphone’s tiny flash.

Read here for more ideas on accessories to benefit you and your smartphone photography.

Person holding an iPhone and taking a photo

Best Smartphone or iPhone Tripod Mount For You

The best way to keep your cell phone still while photographing is by using a tripod.  A tripod keeps your cellphone stuck to the object it is placed on.

You will need to keep your camera as still as possible. Especially for time-lapses, long exposures or photographing anything in low light conditions.

We collected tripods and tripod mounts for both Android and iPhone devices. Check them out in this article.

Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod Kit with Universal Smartphone Clamp

What Is the Best iPhone Tripod? Top Picks

Many photographers use iPhones, and they need specialised accessories for their smartphone photography.

Your iPhone can take fantastic photos, but it needs some extra help sometimes. For example, when you want to avoid camera shake, you need a tripod.

The models we listed here are all excellent choices for your iPhone photography. Check out their detailed introductions to see which one is the best choice for you.

A tripod will keep your mobile perfectly still for those long exposures in your smartphone photography shots
Photo by Brad Puet

Smartphone Triggers

Sometimes, using your smartphone to take pictures is obvious. It can lead to people screaming and running away as if Godzilla was in town.

But there is a way around this. Investing in a trigger trap can mean you can capture that candid image every time.

It is a cable release for cellphones. They allow you to click the shutter from anywhere. Even your pocket.

This will make it look as if you are Skyping a friend, or trying to get a signal.

The general public will be none the wiser. Read this article for the multitude of uses this gadget has.

Cool smartphone selfie of a girl

Best DIY hacks – How to Make a Homemade Smartphone Projector

Are you also annoyed by showing your smartphone videos and photos on a tiny screen? The DIY smartphone projector will be the right solution for you.

It is a fun, easy and affordable project. And the result will allow you to enjoy your smartphone’s content in a bigger size. Project it on a white wall or a screen, and enjoy the show.

The best part is that you don’t need any fancy equipment, only a few simple propr. Follow our tutorial and build your DIY smartphone projector.

a projection of a building made with a projector for phone.

How To Start

12 Different Smartphone Photography Themes You Can Try Today

Everyone and their mother has a smartphone. This doesn’t mean that each one of us can take a stunning photograph.

It takes more than raising the camera and pressing the shutter.

If you are starting to focus on your smartphone photography, it might be helpful to concentrate on a genre.

This will give you a focus on what to photograph. One area might be capturing portraits using your smartphone.

One tip for capturing stunning portraits with your smartphone is to use soft light rather than harsh light.

Use this light to correctly expose the photograph based on the skin tone.

There are many more genres and tips in our article which you can read here.

abstract photo of a man in a white shirt posing in front of dark green trees and bright blue sky

How to Use Your Smartphone to Create Stunning Light Painting Photography

Light trails are a great way to capture interesting night time smartphone photography images.

These lights act as leading lines, bringing your eyes into the image. They are fun to make and easy to create.

The idea is that you stabilize your camera and capture a long exposure of a busy street. The passing cars will illuminate the scene, adding this red and white path of light.

An image showing light trails brings in the idea of movement in a still image. It adds depth and helps to turn a dull image into something with a little more interest.

Read here on how to create one.

Colorful light trails of traffic

What Is Lens Flare? (And How to Use it for Creative Photos!)

Lens flare is one of those things that ruin a photograph. During the golden hour, when the sun is at its lowest is when you are the most susceptible to this bright light.

It is something that can happen both when using a DSLR camera or a smartphone.

Even if the sun isn’t in your image, the angle can still hit the glass of your lens and bounce around inside. This is one of those faults that you might notice afterwards, not immediately.

But lens flare can lead to creative artsy pictures. If used in the right way. Many image styles can benefit from having the sun-blasted at you and your cellphone.

To know what they are, and use them immediately, you must read our article here.

A photo of a man working in an office, with a creative lens flare effects coming from the window above his head

10 Tips for Macro iPhone Photography

One big area that you can use your cellphone for is macro photography. This is the style of getting very close to an image and creating a larger than 1:1 ratio of a subject.

You make tiny subjects and objects much larger than they would be.

These could be the details of everyday items. Single them out and enlarge to create an interesting, abstract image.

For this, you will need to look at a lens or two. Other than that, it all comes down to your creativity.

Read more about macro smartphone photography here.

Macro photo of a bee on a flower

How to Take Great Smartphone Photos (No Matter the Light!)

When you have the best lighting conditions, you can capture a scene with any camera system. The trick is being able to use it when the conditions are not great.

For example, low light conditions could use artificial lighting. Harsh sunlight should be limited as not to blow out the highlights.

All the other tips are here, in our article.

A female model posing outdoors in a sun hat

Abstract Photography With Your Smartphone: Easy Tips

Abstract photography is a great field to use your smartphone for. Your smartphone has every feature for this challenging topic.

Creating abstract photography requires you to look at situations and objects in a different way. Your smartphone is a tool to help capture these delights.

For example, look for patterns in everyday objects. Taken the right way will create some interesting images. Check out our easy tips and create stunning abstract photography with your smartphone.

Abstract smartphone photo

Creating a Polar Globe (Tiny Planet!)

Another great way to use your cellphone photography is to create polar globes.

These are also called tiny planets and are the act of turning an image or panorama into a little world.

This style is easy to achieve. First, you wrap your image around so that the left and right side join for a continuous shot.

A panorama gives you more room to play with the image. Read our detailed tutorial here.
A cool tiny planet smartphone photo

A Guide to Better Smartphone Photography

As you find yourself turning more and more to your phone, you will enjoy a few tips. The good thing about using your phone is that it gets you moving.

Do not use your digital zoom, but get closer or further away physically. This will help you frame better and get used to the distances of your subjects.

No matter where you are, and what your focus, try and aim for a single idea or concept.

It is common practice to layer compositions and subjects. Start simple until you get a real feel for it.

Read the entire guide here and start improving.

A beautiful smartphone photography shot of an icy landscape

Keeping Your Phone Steady

Keeping your phone steady can be a pain. Windy conditions make it challenging and frustrating to photograph.

A tripod can work well. But a normal-sized one would be too bulky for your small device. A smaller version is possible (see above) but it also has its limit on perspective.

The small sensor of the iPhone is the reason why shake is visible. In low light situations, it is also important to keep your captures as steady as possible.

This article gives you all the information and tips on how to keep your smartphone as still as possible.

A person taking a smartphone photo of train tracks

How to Take Action Shots with Your Phone

Taking action shots with your smartphone can be challenging and stressful. You want to capture a moment and you’re afraid you’re going to miss it.

You need the perfect timing and good skills to get the perfect shot. But with a few tips, you can improve your action shot photography.

For example, you should always anticipate the direction of your subject’s movement. This way, you can prepare to capture the right moment.

For more tips on how to take action shots with your phone, read this article.

Photo of a girl riding a bike with a guy on a skateboard holding onto the bike

How to Create 360 Photo Panorama on Your Phone

Capturing 360-degree photos getting more and more widespread. You can also take 360-degree panorama photos with your phone.

There are many 360 panorama photo apps out there, and it’s easy to get confused which one is the best choice. Read our article to help to decide which app to get and for tips on how to use them.

360 Panoramic photo of a city skyline at night

How to Use Portrait Mode for Stunning iPhone Portraits

Portrait Mode is an amazing feature of the newer version of the iPhone. It helps you blur the background and create fantastic portraits of your subjects.

The iPhone creates a digital depth of field and not an optical one, through the lenses. Because of this, the iPhone doesn’t always do a good job of separating the subject from the background.

Read this article to learn how to use Portrait Mode on your iPhone.

Screenshot of using portrait mode on iPhone

How to Take Beautiful DIY Newborn Photography With a Smartphone

Babies grow up so quickly that sometimes you don’t have time to book a professional photographer. You want to capture the moment while it lasts. So you decide to take photos of the newborn yourself.

DIY photos of newborns won’t look the same as the ones done in a professional studio. But you can do your best to create stunning and heart-melting newborn photos. Learn here how to do so.

DIY newborn photography of a newborn with a teddybear

10 Common Smartphone Photography Mistakes and how to Avoid Them

If you feel that your smartphone images are not as good as they could be, you might be making one of these simple mistakes.

Using people in your photography can help to cut out one common mistake.

You might find that adding people to an image that has no focal point can add depth.

This is where your patience is necessary, as you may have to wait for the person to enter your shot.

Another common mistake is missing that focus on your subject. Your smartphone is intuitive and might pick the wrong area to focus on.

Read here on how to change it easily.

A photography of the beach with lifeguard hut and beach chairs.


Improve Your Composition With the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is an integral compositional tool that can help to create interest in your images.

This concept states that the subject should not only sit in the middle of the frame. By placing them towards the corners of the frame makes a more interesting composition.

Imagine the viewfinder or LCD screen as having two lines that split up the image vertically, and two horizontally.

There are four points where the lines intersect. This is where you should aim to place the most important area of the image.

The viewer will focus on this as it is more pleasing. Don’t be afraid of layering other forms of composition to lead their eyes to these areas.

Read here on how to execute this effectively.

Majestic photo of a Golden retriever dog standing on the edge of a cliff with the rule of thirds composition grid overlayed

How to Use Leading Lines to Improve Your Photography Composition

Lines are a great way to help compose your images to give them that extra wow factor. They can draw your eye to a subject, or take it away, out of the frame.

They can also give a sense of direction, which in itself is movement in a still image and makes it interesting.

These lines are everywhere. If you stand under a very tall building looking up, all the lines will converge. Your eyes will follow them to the top.

A long street, handrail, or zebra crossing are all examples of what you can use. You only have to keep your eyes open and look for them.

This article gives great tips on what to look for them and how they dramatize your image.

the silhouettes of people walking passed a lighted structure

8 Great Tips for Using Color in Photography

The colors in your images are an important area in smartphone photography. They can make subjects and areas in your photograph complementary or independent of each other.

If the colors are correlative to each other, it helps keep the same tone and mood of the image.

Juxtaposition comes from colors that contrast and cause conflict. Both of these styles can help to add interest in your smartphone photography.

Check our article here for all the information you need about color concepts.

Color theory diagrams


Backing-Up: Store, Share, Print

Backing up your images is very important. It ensures there is a copy of your images somewhere else, in case something happens to your cellphone.

Modern cellphones are somewhat fragile, and not adverse to water. So it is always best to be safe. To save your images, there are many options.

The Cloud service is the common one for iOS users. 5 GB is automatically allocated to you through your iTunes registration.

Google drive is available through their relevant application.

The best and cheapest way is here, in this article.

A person holding there smartphone opened on social media apps folder

Top Ten Smartphone Apps

Apps are what turns your cellphone into a smartphone. Without apps, you can make calls, check your calendar and have basic use of your pocket wizard.

Through apps, you can do almost anything on your phone. Some are free, but they often force you to deal with adverts. This is until you pay.

The rest you need to pay for.

One of our recommendations is the Magic Shutter App. It lets you work with long exposures. You get to choose your own shutter speed. See our article here for the other 9 apps.

Magic Shutter is a great app for your smartphone photography

10 Best Smartphone Photo Editing Apps (For iPhone and Android)

There are lots of smartphone applications out there dedicated to image editing. Many of them have the same task in mind, managing your exposure levels and contrast.

Everyone knows Instagram and VSCO Cam. But did you know that Adobe Photoshop also has a mobile app version? It offers quite many tools to help you edit your photos.

Read more here about how this can help you take your smartphone photography to the next level.

Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop Express editing apps for android & iPhone

12 Most Useful Landscape Photography Apps

There are specific cellphone applications to help your landscape photography. First, you should know landscapes appear before taking any photographs.

A successful landscape capture happens because of the research and planning beforehand. One of the best apps for planning is Photopills.

This clever app shows you the placement of the sun and moon in relation to the area you want to photograph.

This is great for landscapes doused in light during the golden hour. For the other 11 apps, read here.

A screenshot of using smartphone photography app

Geotagging Your Images

Your cellphone has many tasks, not only taking calls and sending text messages.

One of its clever uses is to make a note of a specific location that you have photographed or wish to return to.

This comes from something called geotagging. A quick download of an app lets your phone know where you are through GPS (Global Positioning System).

As you photograph a subject, the location is recorded. It is stored in your EXIF (Exchangeable image file format) data.

Read here on what app to use and how the information can benefit you.

Aerial shot of a beautiful hilly landscape


11 Tricks For Beginners

If you are new to smartphone photography and want to use Instagram, this article is for you.

Our tips and tricks will help get you started on this social media platform.

Instagram has over 400 million users, so you can understand that 52 Million images posted a day happens very often. So how do you stand out?

One of the first points is to only post your best images. It is tempting to share everything you photograph. But you need to cull much of your work.

Sharing one image will always be more powerful.

The other ten tips to get a feel for Instagram are here in this article.
A person taking a still life photo on a smartphone

How to Edit Instagram Photos in Lightroom

Instagram is a social media application for image sharing, but it has other uses. You can use it to edit your images too.

But you can also edit your images in Lightroom. This way, the results will be more stunning and professional. Plus, there is a mobile version available which makes photo editing quicker and easier.

This article shows you more in-depth information.

A screenshot of tools on Lightroom Mobile app.

Hyper-lapse Videos

A hyper-lapse is a video created from many photographs taken in succession.

What makes this different to a time-lapse is that you move as you capture the images. You are free to pan, tilt or walk while you keep photographing.

When these images are together, they create an interesting feeling. This is something that you can’t replicate from a standard video.

This style is available on Instagram, so other apps aren’t needed. Read this article on how to create them so you can give it a try today.

Light trails of traffic on a countryside road

12 Instagram Tips for Beginner Smartphone Photographers

Instagram is all about getting noticed. Many people who use this service focus on the number of followers.

But the level of engagement with your images is more important than the number of followers.

A high number offers you nothing (unless you have over 10,000). Comments have the potential to give you important feedback.

These will affect your confidence and style.

Tips on how to get noticed can be found in our article here.
Portrait photography of a girl relaxing on a beach.


Smartphone Photography Workflow

Your smartphone photography needs a workflow. This keeps the organization, planning, and editing of your images consistent.

This is a good way to manage and process your images if you are out on the road and far from your laptop.

Depending on where your images will end up will dictate the programs or applications you will use.

Your images will have more of an impact being shared sooner than later. Instagram is a great tool for both editing and sharing.

Overhead shot of a person using a smartphone at a table

How to Create Stunning HDR Images

HDR or High Dynamic Range is a way of creating a stunning image from a subject with difficult lighting.

By image stacking, you help to bring out the details from the highlights and shadowy areas. Smartphones already have this tool embedded inside the in-phone camera app.

No downloading is necessary. This process is a great way to show off landscapes, portraits, and low-light scenes.

Read this article on what to look for in creating these HDR images.

A road leading to a church surrounded by purple heather

10 Tips for Smartphone Photo Editing

Editing images on your smartphone has many advantages. It allows you to edit on the move, and then share immediately.

To be able to share your images, they need to be the best you can create. Follow our tips here on how to create the best possible images.

Make sure that there are some settings which don’t disturb your process. We’ll tell you which ones, and how to turn them off.


Nowadays, you don’t need an expensive camera to become a photographer. All you need is a smartphone with a good camera and some general photography guidelines.

Use our guide to learn and master your smartphone photography. If you do it well, nobody will even think of asking you what device you used for taking the photos. Everyone will ask you how you did it.

Expert Smartphone Advice
iPhone Photography School’s Capture it All
Capture It All
Are you looking to expand your knowledge of smartphone photography? Our Video Course covers everything your iPhone camera can do in simple, step-by-step video lessons. Join us on an incredible adventure in Mexico and capture it all with stunning results. Lifetime access and a 30-day money-back guarantee.