- Clean the lenses, both front (selfie camera) and rear cameras, before taking photos. A dirty lens reduces contrast and can make any lights or specular highlights in the photo flare uncontrollably.
- Choose your viewpoint carefully. Most photos can be greatly improved by moving just a few feet one direction or another. Watch the background. Can you frame the point of interest by choosing a slightly different viewpoint?
- Intentionally choose either portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) orientation of your phone, depending on your subject and viewpoint. Don’t just pick it up and shoot.
- Get closer. Zoom with your feet. Almost every photo can be improved by just moving closer to your subject.
- Compose using the rule of thirds. Few great photos have the subject dead center of the photo. Turn on the “tic-tac-toe” grid on your phone to help you compose (photo settings), then put your subject at one of the cross points of the grid or along one of the lines of the grid.
- Keep the horizon level. Lakes and oceans don’t flow uphill. Yes, you can straighten it later in post-processing, but you’ll have more image to work with if you hold the camera level to begin with. The grid mentioned above will help.
- Learn the basics of post-processing, including leveling the horizon, adjusting contrast, exposure, lightening shadows or darkening highlights, cropping more creatively, even adjusting the point of focus in some cases. Your default photos app can handle most of that with the possible exception of changing the point of focus, for which you may need a third-party app. Culling your photos is also important; one of the reasons people think I’m a good photographer is because I take a lot of photos but never show anyone the bad ones!
- Always have your camera with you. The cliche says, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” That’s one of the great things about cell phone cameras — they’re always with you. My biggest problem is remembering to use it!
Share your bus photos in our Facebook group!
BONUS TIP: Bad weather can easily add drama to your photos! Rain makes puddles or wet pavement, for example, that can provide great reflections in the foreground of your photo. So don’t let the weather prevent you from taking your cell phone camera out of your pocket.
I’m currently working on a YouTube video that will go over all of these and include examples. Stay tuned.