1. Clean your lens
I know it sounds obvious, but your mobile spends its day with whatever is in your pocket or handbag. You will never take great pictures with pocket lint or greasy thumbprints on the lens…
This is a really easy issue to fix, but if you ignore it, it will limit you before you even start. Also, try not to keep your phone in your pocket or bag with things that might scratch the lens, like coins, keys, and the like.
2. Learn to read light
Lighting makes an image great, whether you take it with a D4 or a mobile phone. If you know what makes great light you are halfway to making great photographs.
3. Forget about flash
If you are out in a bar with friends, by all means, flash away—but as with point-and-shoot cameras, the light is going to be flat and prone to redeye. You get much better images if you can use the room light. (see point 2)
4. Take lots of pictures
As a professional photographer, I almost never take one picture. The final image that the client sees is almost always the result of an iterative process.
Take a shot, critique it, then take another shot. Change your angle, change your distance to the subject, change your exposure. Almost always, the end result is better than your first image.
5. Get a good phone for photography
I often joke that, with my Lumina 1020, I bought a great camera with a built-in phone. I wanted to get a camera for the times when I was out with my family or just out and about without my pro gear. I bought my phone with a specific eye on the camera. If you want to be serious about mobile photography, you need to have the tools for the job.
6. Learn to step out of auto mode
If you follow the advice in step 5, you probably have a phone that allows you to take some control of the exposure. One error that many novices make is to presume that the camera will always take the best picture.
The camera runs an algorithm that outputs a general result—it has no artistic judgement. The more control you take of the process, the more you will be able to express your artistic judgement, and the more likely you are to get outstanding pictures.
7. Shoot RAW (or at least DNG)
The ability to shoot DNG files is one of the main features that drew me to my Lumia, since then I’ve seen this ability show up on other ecosystems. DNG files will retain more highlight and shadow detail than a .jpeg, and also give you more leeway in extreme lighting situations. But the best thing about DNG files is that they give you better material to work with for my next two tips.
8. Learn to edit
Learn to edit your pictures. As a pro, all of my pictures are edited. The same applies to mobile photography phone pictures. And by edit, I do not mean slapping an Instagram filter on a picture. Learn about brightness, contrast, and saturation. I use Fotor, Adobe Photoshop Express, and Lumina Creative Studio on my phone.
9. Really learn to edit
This is where DNG files really shine. To get the best results, I import the DNG files into Lightroom and Photoshop to edit them there. The power of these programs and the control that comes from making fine adjustments on a really big screen are what will make the most of your image.
10. Have fun!
At its heart, mobile photography is about fun. The joy of having a camera available at those moments you want to keep is what it’s all about. The best way to improve is to have fun and to enjoy the process of doing better than what you had done before.