Simple Tips to Better Smartphone Photos

Are you ready for some simple tips to get better cell phone photos? Well, here you go! I’ve compiled my “secret” tricks to make phone pics look like you used a professional camera. Sometimes it’s just easier to carry my phone in my back pocket while traveling, rather than lugging my 3.5 pound 5D Mark II around while walking up and down the streets of San Francisco, or while out on a hike!

But first…

  1. Before you post a photo to social media…ask yourself this question. Is it interesting? Many times, I’ve thought I’d snapped a great picture, but once I started editing, even I got bored with it and it ended up getting deleted.
  2. I have my phone set to shoot HDR (high dynamic range) as well as “keep normal photo.” According to Apple, “HDR blends the best parts of three separate exposures into a single photo. Save the normally exposed photo in addition to the HDR version.” So you’ll get two shots saved to your camera roll per photo. Now it’s time to edit…


I use quite a few apps for editing. Each one does something a little different so I use various ones depending on what type of look I’m going for. Here are four of my favorites:

Instagram – I edit a lot of photos using Instagram and then will delete them (but have it save to my camera roll) to use someplace else – mainly because it’s so user-friendly and the editing options are pretty good.

Below are editing tools that I think are a MUST and that I use pretty much every time:

  • Structure: This instantly sharpens your photo. Don’t go too high, just a little for a natural yet sharper looking tweak.
  • Brightness: Self-explanatory. Don’t go crazy.
  • Shadows: I’ll use this if some areas of the photo are too dark. Again, moderation is key here!
  • Pet peeves:
    • Saturation..let’s talk about that. You know you’ve seen those photos that are wayyyy too colorful and obviously over processed. Think Robert Delaunay; great in paintings, maybe not so much in a photo. Go easy.
    • I rarely use filters. Once you learn the art of all the editing tools, you don’t need a filter. And if you’ve had a professional shoot your photo, don’t go adding a bad filter to it. Would you touch up a Renoir??? Ok, rant over. To make pics pop, however, see below….

Snapseed – This is a great app for adding custom text over photos, making adjustments in all or even part of a photo – all by swiping up/down/left or right. Try it!

Repix – I love the creative sun flares, raindrops, magic dust, and other fun filters you can add manually, all by using your finger to drag them exactly where you want on the photo. Note: you could end up playing for hours…


Another fun one to add bright and shiny bling coming off your diamond ring, or even sun flares, streaks and more….

Video tip:

  • Make sure your video is recording at 60 fps – it uses more memory but well worth it in looking smoother and more professional. You can make adjustments in Settings/Photos & Camera on an iPhone.

That’s it! There are more that I use, so if you want more info, just email Most of all, have fun shooting!

Photos & tips: Lora