The best camera is the one you have with you, which these days is probably on your phone. It’s no substitute for a DSLR, but the best ones are pretty good and with care you can get great results. Nigel Atherton gives a few pointers…

Better phone photos: Step 1 – See

taking better phone photos monkey sheepA phone is never going to be the best choice for fine-art landscapes but it’s perfect as a visual diary. It’s great for capturing spontaneous moments – things you see as you go about your day that are funny, touching, or weird – things that before camera phones would probably have gone unrecorded.

Keep your eyes open for those little details that tell a story, make a statement or ask a question. Many people also use their phone to take pictures that reflect how they’re feeling – like a visual mood board.

Better phone photos: step 2 – Shoot

taking better phone photographsIts easy to get camera shake when using your phone, so take a little extra care when shooting.

Hold the handset firmly with both hands and press the shutter button gently. Some handsets have a physical button as well as an on-screen one, which is a better option.

You can fine-tune the focus and exposure by touching the screen at the appropriate point, and you can make your image brighter or darker by touching darker or lighter areas in the scene.

Some apps, such as Camera+ for the iPhone, enable you to separate the focus and exposure points so the area you use to set the exposure can be different to the one you want to focus on.

Better phone photos: step 3 – Process

better phone photos - river boatsOne advantages of smartphones is their ability to edit an image. As well as the basics, you can apply an infinite number of creative effects, many based on old photographic processes of the past.

You can add sepia or split tones, textures and borders, selective focusing effects and much more.

You can usually apply the effect after you’ve taken your shot, so you don’t miss the moment and you still have the original to go back to.

Most of these apps cost less than £1 and some are free, so experiment.

The image above was taken using Instagram, while the main image on the left was done using Snapseed.

Better phone photos: Step 4 – Share

better phone photos sharing the image

Most phones give you the option of sharing your pics via Twitter, Facebook ad Flickr. Photogene gives even more options

The other big trump card offered by smartphones is their ability to share images with the world almost instantly.

In most cases these days, this will be via social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Photo Bucket.

You can either download the dedicated app for your chosen website and select the photo you want to share through that, or in most cases upload to your chosen site directly from the photo app.

Take a moment to think of a good caption that’s pithy, witty or touching, as this can increase the impact of your image.

Tagging your photos will place them on a map.

And don’t forget to back up your phone regularly to keep your pictures safe should you lose it.