6 Professional Tips for Taking Great Smartphone Photos

6 Professional Tips for Taking Great Smartphone Photos

smartphone photos
© Alexis Duclos

Oops! Missed that once in a lifetime moment on camera? Out of focus or out of frame? Betcha thought taking photos on your smartphone was supposed to be a no-brainer. It is, but taking GOOD photos needs some knowledge of what your mobile phone can do for you.

INSPIRELLE is so fortunate to have professional photographer Alexis Duclos support our website with his beautiful portraits for some of our articles and feature interviews. Today, he shares his experience to help all of us take better photos each time with our smartphone.

Your smartphone is a true computer which offers possibilities that were barely imaginable a few years ago. Though the shooting itself is automatic, multiple settings offer the greatest variety while in use.”– Alexis Duclos

smartphone photos
Photo taken on iPhone 5 © Alexis Duclos

Here are six simple technical tips that can make all the difference in your snapshots:

Tip 1: Improve the Quality of Your Picture

I recommend programming your smartphone to the best possible quality. To begin with, on the iPhone, opt for HDR (“high dynamic range”), to give your photos maximum quality. Also, on both iPhone and Android phones, choose to adjust the contrast, color saturation, and appearance for high quality photos. These options can be found in the “Edit” button in your stream of photos.

Tip 2: Steady Up to Prevent Blurry Shots

Since you’re shooting in automatic mode, it is not possible to change the shutter speed. So, to prevent blurriness and shaky images, I recommend stabilizing yourself and your smartphone. Do so by holding the phone with both hands, locking your elbows close to your body and holding your breath; then gently press on the button of the screen to take the photo.

smartphone photos
© Alexis Duclos

Tip 3: How to Choose Framing

Vertical or horizontal photography? Or even panoramic?! There are numerous possibilities for the choice of framing. Certainly, a group photo will be better horizontal. Feel free to vary the angles, and if your frame does not satisfy you, it is better to move in closer rather than to zoom (avoid blurriness, see tip #2). Once the photo is taken, it is still possible to select “Edit” and choose different possible corrections. Re-framing is so convenient — as it is part of the digital magic!

Tip 4: Getting the Best Shot

When taking a group photo, do not hesitate to take multiple images in a row. Why? Because this will allow you to choose THE best picture where everybody’s eyes are open. When the people in the photo are particularly important, I count to three aloud, then I shoot. This allows each one to concentrate and not close their eyes! And do not forget that the background should never be neglected. The setting allows you to entirely capture the place you are freezing in time.

smartphone photos
© Alexis Duclos

Tip 5: Use Natural Light Whenever You Can

If possible, avoid using the flash when there is natural lighting. The more natural light available, the more beautiful the image will be. A flash would crush the image when used against natural lighting.

The legendary photographer, Henri Cartier Bresson, once said, “A camera flash is like a canon shot in a church.”

A small detail to remember: regularly clean the lens of your Smartphone with a soft tissue-like material.

smartphone photos
Monument Valley photo taken with a iPhone 5 © Alexis Duclos

Tip 6: Framing is Everything

Remember the framing, remember the framing, and certainly, remember the framing!

Do not hesitate to put something (or someone!) in the forefront for scenery photos.

Move your smartphone to find an original setup that respects the lines, proportions and light of your subject. And a little secret between us: if you are shooting in color, think in color!

Best Photo Apps for Smartphones

There are dozens of free apps for iPhone or Android phones. Even if your smartphone offers many adjustable choices, it is always possible to have more!

The Autodesk Pixlr application can be used to create saturated images with strange colors. The possible effects are quite magical.

Also, you can improve the sharpness of your photo with the phone Camera+ application available in the App store or Focal for Android.

smartphone photos
Photo taken at art gallery opening in Paris on an iPhone 5 © Alexis Duclos

You can also add a vintage effect to your photos with Afterlight. For black and white, Black and White Camera Free for iPhone or Camera Photo Black and White gives the opportunity to play with the monochrome effects on Android.

A final word of advice, when you send images to other smartphone destinations, I suggest you choose the definition of “average”, approximately 260 KB. This dimension of pixels is just enough for a small screen.

For the rest, have fun and be creative!

Visit Alexis Duclos’ website or consult INSPIRELLE’s IList to find a professional photographer to meet your needs.


Alexis Duclos is an independent photographer and video cameraman based in Paris, France working in news, documentary, corporate video and multimedia. Prior to his freelance work, he worked exclusively as a news/magazine photographer around the world for almost 20 years, with Associated Press and Gamma agency. He is an award-winning photographer and his independent film, “The Chained”, received a special mention at the FIGRA news documentary festival in 2012. Alexis is a “grand supporter” of INSPIRELLE and women’s causes. For more on his work, consult his website: www.alexisduclos.com


  1. Bonjour Alexis and Nancy
    Alexis these tips are super! I am impressed with what you suggest for using the camera on a phone -especially coming from you! We are in Costa Rica for 3 weeks, I have my mini iPad but not my phone. I’ve taken a few pics with the iPad but mostly using my Canon Elph 320. We spent 10 days at the beach in Manuel Antonio, now we are up in the Monteverde Cloud Forest in the VERY SMALL town of Santa Elena! It makes me chuckle when I see people walking on the muddy jungle trails and they are trying to get a photo of a quetzal using their honking big tablets! But chacon son goût! I hope I spelled that correctly!
    We have 5 days here in the mountains, then on Saturday we go to Cahuita on the Caribbean coast for 5 days, then to San Jose for 2 days before we return to Toronto -and the dreaded winter arrrggghhh!

    Allen was thinking of sending our trip to INSPIRELLE, to share with your readers -would you’ve interested? No problem if not!

    Big huge hugs and PURA VIDA from Costa Rica!


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