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5 tips for taking better photos with your smartphone

By Natalie Bannon

Check out Facebook, Twitter or any website, and it's pretty clear that photos have never been more popular. You can brighten a cloudy day by pairing your favorite Scripture with a serene photo. Or you can share the spirit of the action at a church event by capturing a candid moment. Even some professional photographers are skipping the equipment and using their smartphones. Since you usually have it with you, the accessibility allows you to take advantage of even more photo opportunities. Aside from finding the best lighting, planning shots and experimenting with perspective, how do you take snapshots to the next level? Here are five quick tips.

1. Get a grip
We all know that shaky cameras lead to blurry photos. Phones are especially difficult to keep still because they're so lightweight. Steady your grip. Use both hands or brace one arm by holding your elbow like this.

2. Keep it clean
Since there's no lens cap for protection, it's easy for your smart phone to pick up extra grime. This will show up in your photos. Check out the difference between a pic taken with a dirty lens and one taken with a clean lens.

3. Come a little closer
Refrain from the pinch and zoom if possible. It creates grainy photos and because it's digital, it will decrease the quality of your photo without changing the resolution. Bottom line, if you can get closer to the action physically, chances are you'll get a better shot.

4. Go on the grid
Many smartphones have a grid feature. This helps you frame the perfect shot. Line up the horizon with the horizontal line. Also, try to follow the rule of thirds. The grid divides your shot into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Don't aim for the center. Instead, shoot the subject at the point where the four grid lines intersect. If you don't have the grid option, just imagine it. This photography standard will create even more visual interest.

5. Experiment with HDR
HDR stands for high dynamic range. If your phone has this feature, it's a good one to use when you're shooting a still object or a landscape. Simply put, when you select HDR, your camera takes a series of photos with different exposures then combines the best parts of each into one photo.

Try the different settings on your camera, shoot as much as you can, and hit the app store for amazing photo editing tools. We recommend Instagram, which is kind of like an editing app and social network in one. Two other great apps for editing include Overgram and Camera+.
For more church communication tips, go to and 'like' The United Methodist Church on Facebook to see a variety of photos.