I know what you're thinking...
"Shoot like a pro" is not something you typically associate with mobile photography.
And I admit, professional photographers aren't using their smartphones as their primary camera.
But, that doesn't mean that professionals never use their smartphones to take high-quality photos.
When you think about it, the cameras on our phones today have better resolution, more megapixels, and more robust supporting features (like in-camera panoramic and time-lapse controls) than even the most expensive cameras did 15 years ago.
So before you think that you can't take incredible shots with your smartphone, consider these essential mobile photography tips.
Seek Out Interesting Subjects
One thing that I find myself doing (and I wish I didn't) is that I'll be out shooting with my smartphone, and, despite being unencumbered by carrying a big camera, I don't always look around for more interesting subjects to photograph.
By that I mean that I get to my destination, get my phone out, and take some photos without really searching for a scene that might be more interesting or unique.
It's a problem I see with a lot of other photographers too, and if you want to up your mobile photography game, it's an issue you'll need to avoid.
Instead of just going through the motions of taking a photo, like the plain old sunset shown above, really think about your subject and its surroundings and how you might be able to find a better way to photograph them.
If you're taking a portrait, rotate around the subject to see how the different direction of light changes the look and feel of the photo.
If you're photographing a landscape, see what moving to the left or right of your current position does to change how the scene is presented.
As seen in the image above, simply adding a person completely changes the shot for the better.
Try incorporating motion into your shots as well - many smartphones have long exposure controls built right in.
Your phone can hold tons of photos, so do yourself a favor and move around, search for better opportunities for taking photos, and don't hesitate to press that shutter button - a lot!
Actually Learn How to Use Your Phone's Camera
As I noted above, smartphone cameras today have all kinds of helpful settings and modes that help you take better photos.
But I'm always surprised at how little people know about the functionality of their phone's camera.
You'd never go out shooting with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera without reading the manual and learning what each button and function does, would you?
So why should it be any different when you're using your smartphone? If you have an iPhone 7, check out the video below by Video Gadgets Journal to get a few top tips about using the iPhone's camera:
Go beyond the basic operations of switching between square format and regular format.
Don't limit yourself to still photos either...
Try a panoramic photo. Give HDR a go. Learn how to adjust the exposure.
Heck, download some third-party camera apps to see what other fun features you can find.
The point is that if you want to take truly spectacular photos with your phone, you have to first know how to use the features it offers you.
Find Ways to Add Depth
Making your smartphone photos feel three-dimensional is an excellent way to give them more impact.
The difficulty, of course, is finding ways to make something that's two-dimensional feel three-dimensional.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks you can use to help viewers feel as though the image has some dimension to it.
You can use light to your advantage, and feature long shadows in the shot that give height to the subject.
You might incorporate foreground interest that gives some context to the distance between the foreground and the background.
Taking up a very low shooting position - something that's easy to do with a smartphone - helps you get foreground elements into the shot.
Tried-and-true techniques like using leading lines - like the pathway in the image above - will also make your photos feel like they have more depth as well.
And the beauty of using these techniques is that they draw the viewers into the shot.
The more you can do that, the more time the viewer will spend inspecting different areas of the photo, and the more time they spend doing that, the more the image will have a feeling of being a three-dimensional space.
Help Yourself Out With a Smartphone Lens
A great thing about using your phone as a camera is that there are so many accessories available today that make their functionality even greater and the results you get more refined.
From tripods to flashes to apps for taking and editing photos, there are hundreds of options for turning your smartphone into a better camera.
There are also plenty of lenses out there that can help you get sharper photos while giving you more leeway in terms of field of view.
Kenko makes a series of clip-on lenses for smartphones that will help you elevate your smartphone photography instantly.
For example, their Real Pro 0.4x Super Wide Lens expands the range of your phone's lens to take wide-angle shots at 165-degrees that are ideal for landscape photography, photos of large groups, and general snapshots.
The lens is crafted with finely processed glass that results in images that are sharp and have minimal distortion and vignetting.
What's more, Kenko's mobile phone lenses are incredibly easy to use.
Where other lenses have to attach to the phone using a case or some other apparatus, Kenko's lenses simply clip on, as you can see in the image above.
Better still, Kenko offers a fisheye lens with a 180-degree view and a macro/wide angle combination lens with a 120-degree view, so if you get the set, you can pursue all kinds of unique photos with your phone.
Kenko's lenses can even be used as a stand for your phone, and are compatible with just about any modern camera-enabled gadget, including tablets and laptops.
Ultimately, you can follow all the tips and tricks you want and get all the mobile photography accessories you can get your hands on, but like any other type of photography, what will make the most difference in the quality of your photos is practicing.
But hey, practicing is more fun if you have the right gear and the know-how, right?
So, take these tips to heart and get out and shoot some photos with your phone. After all, practice makes perfect!