Capital Photography Center | Photography Classes in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and Online

Phone Photography Pointers

August 13, 2020 by Marie Joabar

Many of us have DSLR or Mirrorless cameras yet we all turn to our phone camera at times simply because it’s always with us and let’s face it, it’s just quicker and easier to share right away from our phone.  

Think of the phone camera as simplified version of your real camera. With a real camera, we might be more deliberate and conscious of our exposure settings and choose the right ones to yield a specific look.

  • With the phone, we’re often faced with a large depth of field with everything in the frame sharp (unless we’re using the portrait mode to blur backgrounds).
  • Our shutter is usually set fast enough to give us sharp motion shots but we don’t have the option to be creative and blur the motion with a slower shutter speed.
  • The native camera settings give us limited options such as flash or no flash, HDR (for scenes with a wide range of brights and darks), as well as the ability to take a slow motion or time-lapse video.

But if you use capture apps you’ll find an endless number of settings available to achieve any look you’re after.


Having a collection of go-to capture Apps will help take your phone photography to the next level. The Apps are your tools and you’ll use the one that will give you the “fix” you’re looking for.

Here are just a few of our favorites:

  • Camera+ offer the ability to set ISO, aperture and shutter speed but it also offers a Macro setting so you can get nice tight shots with a bit of blurring behind.
  • Slow Shutter gives you plenty of options to slow the action so you can be playful and creative with your motion shots.
  • Hipstamatic is super fun and creative for some funky looks.


The real fun in phone photography lies in the editing apps and the list is truly limitless. We recommend learning just a few and getting stronger with those before purchasing more.

Once you have a few you like, you’ll compose a shot knowing right then how you’re going to edit it with a particular app. You might use one that adds birds to the sky or will remove telephone wires or render a creative sketch or painterly look.

Here are just a few of our Editing App favorites:

  • Snapseed; This is a must have editing app. Adjust exposure, saturation, contrast, add lens blur, vignettes, a grunge look, BW rendering, frames, text and text bubbles, and so much more.
  • Touch Retouch will remove unwanted objects like cable wires, trash cans, etc.
  • Artista Oil gives a painterly look to your images.
  • Distressed will add textures and also has options to add birds.
  • The list goes on.

We can do our quick edits right there on our phone but we can also sync our images to our iPad and have a larger space to work on for more complicated edits. 


With a regular camera, we’ll choose a lens to give us the view we’re after; be it an all-encompassing wide shot or the super magnified telephoto one. With the phone camera our options are much less and we have to be more creative as we frame our scenes to tell our stories.

  • We can zoom in but it actually reduces resolution and the quality may suffer as a result. The same thing happens if we crop after the fact, we’re simply reducing the resolution and giving up picture quality.
  • Accessory lenses such as those offered by Momenta are an alternative worth looking into. The lineup has options for macro, wide angle, fisheye and telephoto (58mm).

Instructor Michael Koren states, “Photography with a phone is as real an art form as using any other camera or artistic medium. The smartphones of today offer incredible editing power to compliment the quality lenses and ever better sensors. All editing can be done on the phone and shared with the world in minutes after taking a picture.”

To unleash the power of apps and expand your creative vision with a smartphone, consider the Creative Smartphone Photography In-Person class or the Online Getting Started With iPhone Photography course. You'll be amazed at what you will create!


June 19, 2021 - Creative Smartphone Photography Field Shoot - On the Mall


Getting Started with iPhone Photography in June, 2021