Exploring a new country, capturing stunning images of the flowers in your garden or your energetic grandkids – opportunities to enjoy smartphone photography are endless. Whether you have an iPhone, Android or another leading brand of phone, you’ve probably already taken pictures with your integrated camera (if there is one!). In fact, some camera phones are just as good as digital cameras and can take astonishing pictures.

The quality of your masterpiece depends not only on the number of megapixels that your camera boasts, but also on the way that you take your pictures. There’s more to it than just pointing and shooting. Here is some useful advice to help you take great photos with your smartphone, all while impressing your fifty plus friends.

  1. Choose the correct settings

The higher the resolution, the better the shot! This is essential if you want to eventually print your picture and put it on display in your living room for all the family to admire. Go to your settings and select the highest quality. Do the same for megapixels.

  1. Check the lens

Don’t let a dirty lens ruin your photos! Check that nothing is obstructing the lens to avoid blurry pictures. A gentle wipe with a clean cloth is all that is required.

  1. Take the time to get to know your camera

Let’s dream a little and imagine that you spot a stunning and perfectly still deer in the forest (this also works with a bird, a butterfly or even your super active grandkids). Imagine also that, in your attempt to take the best shot, you search desperately for the right settings in your phone but, of course, you can’t find what you’re looking for. Finally, the inevitable happens: the subject of your photo gets bored and disappears some place else.

Moral of the story: don’t wait for the last moment to familiarise yourself with your camera’s settings. Otherwise, you might lose out on an award-winning shot!

  1. Natural light is your best friend

Photos taken with a flash are rarely a masterpiece. The colours are not at their best and your subject is often a little blurry. Take advantage of natural light in order to snap great pictures. Morning and evening lights are particularly amazing. To ensure the best light, don’t hesitate to change your position or to ask your subjects to move. You can also use artificial light, such as a neon shop sign. It can help you to create a romantic atmosphere and you can experiment with the shadows.

  1. Get closer to your subject but don’t zoom

It’s the little details that make a picture unique. Whether you want to capture a bird, your 50+ partner or something else entirely, make sure to get as close as you can. Zooming is not sufficient, and can also make your picture rather blurry. Close-up images that capture the little things (for instance, a ladybird on a rose or the intricate details of a leaf), can look wonderful. Another solution is to crop your picture later (but really, do your best to avoid zooming!).

  1. Dare to move constantly

Take your pictures from different perspectives. Kneel, crouch or lie down to take a picture of your cat. Get some extra height by climbing on a chair. Playing with angles and position will give your shots more depth and, consequently, they will be more unique and interesting. Yes, being a photographer requires doing a little exercise.

  1. Don’t try to include everything in the same picture

Instead, focus on one subject. A single flower or well-presented meal often looks more beautiful or appealing than a flowerbed or a table full of plates. Portraits of your family and your senior friends can also be amazing.

  1. Capture moments instead of people and objects

Use your camera as a memory box. Remember when your friend Stephanie couldn’t stop laughing last year at your birthday? Or when you had your grandchildren over for the holidays and they were splashing water on each other in the pool? Both were ideal moments to take a fantastic and memorable picture. Shots such as these become more than an image: they tell a story. It’s so much better than mechanically taking hundreds of photos that, in the end, all look the same.

  1. Don’t worry too much about the rules of photography

If you’re interested in photography, you might have heard about the rule of thirds. The principle is to divide your picture into three thirds, with vertical and horizontal lines (like for a noughts and crosses grid). The rule involves positioning the important subjects of your picture along the lines of the grid, or at the intersections. This is supposed to create a more balanced and beautiful composition. You can do it mentally, but this can be made easier by using your camera’s gridlines (you can find this option in your settings). However, following these photography rules is not necessary. Just be creative!

  1. Edit your pictures

You’ve finally taken your picture, but your job doesn’t end there. You still have some work to do before sharing it on Facebook. Using your smartphone, a photo app (like Instagram), or some dedicated editing software on your computer, take the time to remove potential red eye, brighten up your picture, add filters or optimize sharpness and contrast. And there you go: you now have an amazing picture you can be proud to show off!