Miranda Becker / April 28, 2017

10 Tips for Taking Great Photos with Your Phone

Okay, so let’s say you recently read our post on where to find great (free!) photos to use, to make sure people pay attention to your petition. But let’s also suppose you’ve decided — “screw stock photography! I want to take my own photos.”

And that’s totally legit. In fact, there are many reasons why this is actually the best way to get visuals for your petition campaign. Some of these reasons include:

  • Authenticity. Viewers want to see photos that genuinely show the situation at hand. If there’s a particular dog or person that your petition focuses on, it’s best to actually have a real, home-photo of that animal or person.
  • Immediacy. You can just take a photo on your phone, upload it, and go on your way!
  • Copyright. You want to always make sure you have the right to use whatever photo you choose. The resources we provide in this post are all safe for you to use, but taking your own photographs is another way to make sure everything is a-okay.

And whether you’re a passionate campaigner who wants to document what’s happening right in your community, a burgeoning artist in your own right, or someone who has a phone and just wants to know how to use it, would’t you know it? We’ve got you covered.

So once you’ve made the leap to taking your own photos for your petition, here are our Top 10 Tips for ways to make your photo the best it can be:

1. Think About Your Lighting

When you’re about to take photo with your phone, make sure the light is good. Try to take your photo during the day. If you’re inside, open all of the curtains or blinds and make sure your subject (like your dog, your food, a plant, etc.) is well-lit. If you’re outside, make sure the subject is not too bright. Consider shooting the photo in the early morning or the early evening — that’s what is known as “the golden hour”. And who doesn’t want their lighting to be golden, right?

2. Turn Off the Flash

On the theme of lighting, think about turning off the flash (usually displayed as a little lightning icon). Flash makes everything look flat and causes red eye when you’re photographing people. Try to light your photo intentionally with natural sunlight or lamps rather than relying on flash.

3. Consider a Tripod

A tiny tripod for your phone can come in so handy! You can pick one up for about $15 online. A tripod allows you to use the timer on your phone so you can take self-portraits or group photos (without the use of an undesirable self-stick because uuuugh, am I right?). In situations where you’re taking a photo in lower light, it also stabilizes the phone so you can get a good photo without all the blur.

4. Turn on the Rule of Thirds Grid

One of the first lessons photography students learn is the “Rule of Thirds”. This rule says that photos are most appealing and most dynamic when the subject is off-center. Surprise! You can easily embrace The Rule of Thirds by turning on the grid in your photo app. (On Apple iOS, you can do this by going to Settings > Photos & Camera, and you’ll find the grid there.) Remember, it’s a rule that can definitely be broken, but it’s best to know the rules if you want to to break them well 😉

5. For Petitions, Shoot Horizontally

The aspect ratio for photos on Care2 Petitions is 2:1, so you’ll get the best results if you shoot your photos horizontally. Think a wide, short rectangle. And this also works best for Facebook shares! Double-win.

6. Use a Hardwire Shutter

Did you know that you can use your headphones to trigger the camera button? This is so helpful when you want to make sure your camera doesn’t move when you press the shutter button or you want to take a photo from further away.

7. Look Around

The best photos really clearly focus on the subject — and that means there’s no noise in the background. Get rid of clutter that’s behind your subject, or move to a spot that’s already clean and clear.

8. Tell a Story

This may seem a little esoteric, but think about what you’re trying to say in your petition. Then use your new photo to further the story you’re telling.

9. Third Party Apps are Your Friend

And it’s nice to have friends! There are many, many camera apps out there these days. Some give you the power to adjust the focus and exposure, just like you would on a real camera. Other apps let you edit your photos even after they’re shot. Try out all the tools and see what you like! From sharpening to noise reduction to beautiful filters, these post-production apps can take a bad photo to a good one — or a good photo to great!

10. Relax, Enjoy, and Practice

This isn’t a race and you don’t have to get it right on the first shot! The best photographers take dozens of shots just to get the right one. Use your camera every day and try to capture a moment from daily life for practice. If you see something beautiful or interesting, pull out your camera, breathe, think about your shot, and click the shutter. In no time, we promise you’ll be taking photos you love.

And now that you’ve learned how to take your own awesome photos, check out our post on how to choose your best photo for your petition. Certain images work best for advocacy and attracting support, so make sure you’re picking the right one!

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