Living, Laughing, Learning and Sharing pictures along the way.

5 Tips For Better Smartphone Photos


We’re on vacation in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina this week, and I’m not going to use my camera.

Did I just make you gasp? I’m sure that statement could be a little misleading, let me explain to you exactly what I mean.

I’m not going to use my DSLR camera. Yes, I brought it with me, because I do want to get lost taking macro photos of bugs. (It’s my therapy, and this homeschoolin’ mama needs a little break!) I do want to keep my knowledge of how to operate my big girl camera up to date.



I don’t want to carry around 10 extra pounds of camera equipment while we’re trying to enjoy our time together, exploring.



So, I’m going to capture all the important memories that we’re making with my smartphone only. It’s quick, it’s always close by and I can share those images with friends and family a lot faster than I ever could with my DSLR. It’s an absolute vacation must have. [Follow me on Instagram to see all the fun photos I’ll post during our stay!]

I’m going to get creative.

I’m going to try new angles.

I’m going to push the envelope as far as I can with what is expected of a smartphone camera.

I’m going to wow you, and show you that you can do this too.

I have brought my favorite pocket lenses and I am armed with my favorite editing apps.

Today is a gray and rainy day. We’re going to stick close to the house we’re in and enjoy a little quality family time making smores, reading books, and lounging in our pajamas for most of this day.

But tomorrow…. we’re off on another adventure! 

You can do this too. Here are my 5 top tips for getting the best vacation images using your smartphone camera.



Before I give you my suggestions, the most important one I could ever give anyone is… KEEP YOUR CAMERA LENS CLEAN. If there is a smudge on the camera lens, guess what’s going to be on your picture? Yep. Just make it a habit to clean that lens every chance you can.


1.Use the stock camera app, NOT the camera within an app.
A lot of apps offer a camera feature, however, the quality/megapixels are probably not going to be equal to what your phone camera offers. This results in low-quality images and your family memories deserve better. Use only the stock camera that came on your phone, and import your photos to your favorite editing app.

2.Avoid using digital zoom.
Digital zoom enlarges the pixels to give the illusion of a closer view. This results in pixelated and grainy images. Instead, take a few steps to get as close as you safely can to your subject, and crop the image in post-processing. (editing)

3.Use the grid view on your camera.
In photography, it’s a good rule of thumb to use the rule of thirds. This means having your subject at one of the intersecting lines on a grid, this looks like a tic-tac-toe board, basically. I haven’t found a smartphone yet that doesn’t offer that feature. Until you’re used to “seeing” where your subject should go, it’s best to use the grid as a “cheat”. Your images will be more appealing using the rule of thirds. Know the rules WELL, and then break them. (We’ll discuss that more in another post.)

To activate your grid, open your phone’s camera app. Go into your settings. You’ll see something along the lines of  “grid lines”. You’ll want to turn this ON. Now when you use your camera, you’ll see a “tic-tac-toe” type overlay. Just line your main subject up at one of the intersecting points and you’ve followed the rule of thirds! Go you! You’re on your way to being a phone-photography rock star!

4.Use burst mode.
This is my cheat for getting just the right photo of my children enjoying life. I just hold down the shutter button and it automatically takes photos until I let go. Sometimes it is only a few images and sometimes…. well… sometimes my husband tries to help by getting pictures of our children and me and it results in over 100 images. BUT! There all digital so I can delete the ones that are not good. Best. Feature. Ever.

Check your camera settings. If your phone has burst shots, you’ll see it in the settings menu. Samsung S5 has “burst shots”, whereas the S7 is built in, nothing to turn on or off. I’m not entirely sure about Apple, but I think it’s built in as well from the 5s up. 

In the event that your phone does not have a burst mode, there is an app for that! (There’s an app for everything, isn’t there?) It’s called “Fast Burst Camera”, there is a free version and a paid version. The free version works great and the paid unlocks a few other features.

5.Move your body.
Don’t be afraid to get low, or high! Have fun experimenting with angles. I like getting low when I’m taking photos of our 2-year-old playing. I’m on her level and I feel it brings the viewer into our world by showing life from her perspective. Our 15-year-old towers above me at just over 6 feet tall so I tend to try to get higher than he is when I’m taking his pictures. (otherwise, I get great pictures of his nostrils! haha)

6.Most of all, HAVE FUN!!!
Ok, so that’s more than 5, but I want you to have fun. Photos convey emotion just as much as any other form of art. If you’re not feeling it, it’s going to come across to the viewer. You may think this doesn’t matter much when the photos are in the family photo album, but I assure you, it does matter. Probably more than any other place. You’re documenting history…. convey that. The laughter, the love, and even the more serious moments.


Capture it all.

Vacation Photos Smart Phone Easy


18 thoughts on “5 Tips For Better Smartphone Photos”

    • Oh yes! It’s always a great idea to get to know your camera. It’s digital so you can take a ton of pictures, and delete them all if you don’t like them. Play around with the settings, and if you feel so inclined, tag me on the photos you share! I’d LOVE to see your progress!

    • It’s so fun, photography is my passion! I’m trying to translate everything I have learned over to smartphone photography because that’s what most folks are using. Everyday life doesn’t need a fancy camera, and taking photos shouldn’t be intimidating. I’m here to help!

  • Great tips. Thank you for that brief explanation on the grid feature, I use it all the time but I always assumed it was used to line up the shot, I had never heard of lining the subject up with the lines.

    • Yeah!!! Give it a try and see how your images improve. The rule of thirds is so powerful in image composition.

  • I don’t think my camera has an app or options. Maybe it’s a Droid thing. I did get down to a worm’s eye view and took a pic of the eldest in a field. He looks like a giant! It’s one of my favorite pics 🙂

    • We’ll have to get together and explore your smartphone camera. 🙂 I’m sure it has many features that you may not be aware of. 😉

  • Thanks for the tips! I love pictures but hate hauling my big camera around too. Have fun on your vacation! We are in North Carolina too so I’ll have to check out your pictures.

    • You’re welcome! Are you a resident of NC or visiting? So many beautiful places there and the waterfalls!! GAH!

  • Love this – as a lifestyle photographer I always have this debate, but the truth is once you know how to stage a picture, most cameras are usable for great pictures, and editing is always an option!

    I’d love for you to share this with my little blog community as we have a weekly link up to share our posts, and I think you’d be a great addition! Just stop by on Thursday if you’re interested and join the Encouraging Hearts & Home community!


    • Oh yes! I say all the time that in the right hands, any camera is a great camera capable of frame-worthy images! I’ll check out your community, THANKS!

  • I take my camera everywhere but always leave it in the car because i hate carrying the darn thing around. Great tips. Tge phone is so much more convenient.

    • Oh yes, and then I worry if someone will see it in the car and take it, not to mention what the extreme heat and cold can do to the camera. As advanced as smartphone cameras have become, it’s just easier for everyday use.

  • I struggle with this too. I love taking pictures with my DSLR but it’s a hassle carrying it around or trying to bring it while we’re doing activities. I didn’t know that there was a difference in the stock app versus the camera within in app, I’m definitely going to check that out! Thanks for the tips =)

    • You’re welcome! It *is* a hassle carrying it around. I always worry that our 2-year-old will somehow cause me to drop it (or accidentally knock it off of someplace) or I’ll hit her in the head with it when leaning down. So, the smartphone it is! 🙂

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