In the digital smorgasbord of images that surrounds us, from family and pet portraits to memorable moments, to the infamous selfie, it seems to be second nature to aim and capture. But this sort of image-saturated culture also brings on a new challenge: to stand out. The smartphone has declared everyone a photographer and yet only a handful remains professional, or a smidgen so. And this could be you!
Use grid lines to compose a shot and apply what the pros call the "rule of thirds". If you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and more interesting.
Keep things simple, and focus on one "subject" rather than many. Ensure that two-thirds of the photo is negative space to make the image more striking. Also, remember to tap the screen where your subject is, to focus on it and make the light and focus adjust accordingly.
Look for leading lines, patterns and symmetry: in some photos, there's a line that draws the viewer's eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or circu-linear – think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the forest. Pictures that contain symmetry (dividable parts) can also be incredibly aesthetic - it's also one of the simplest and most compelling ways to compose a photo. Grid lines can help with this.
Many smartphone cameras offer a digital zoom function, but you're almost always best served by pretending it doesn't exist. Simply put, zooming in is death to the details. When you're cropping, however, you're actually just sampling pixel info that was already recorded. Many modern smartphones have 8-megapixels of resolution and sometimes more. That means you can crop substantially and still have plenty of resolution left for web-worthy display.
Filters are cliché and boring, with almost everyone using them in similar ways. Instead of opting for these pre-determined retro-washes, rather use the in-app editing tools like brightness, contrast and hue to add your own spin on things. It would even take your images to a whole new level if you downloaded a proper image editing app.
Nature always wins and so, of course, natural light will do all the necessary favours for your attempt at professionalising your photos. The flash setting makes photos look overexposed, negatively altering colours and making human subjects often look washed out or pasted in. So instead take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find, even after dark. That gives you a chance to play with shadows or create a silhouette with other ambient sources of light, like traffic and surrounding buildings.
For your photos to stand out you need to have an eye for things. Luckily, this eye can be taught. If you start playing around with reflections, lighting, angles, composition, and negative space you can really add some pizazz to the objects and moments we are all familiar with already. The real trick is to be creative, non-conventional, and curious.