Photography is subjective. Every photographer has their own style, some people may like that style and others may not. I only say this because what I write here is my personal advice and the advice I give may differ to others.
When we look back at our past, the physical photo album is what we use to see our memories and our phones are the modern day equivalent. The only real difference of course, is that physical albums have our best photos that we choose to put in there and our phone photo albums contain thousands of photos ranging from our kids first day at school to a close up of Tony's nostrils from a random night out.
Almost every single person has a phone with a camera these days and almost everybody will use it to take photos and why not? The technology can be far superior to most compact cameras but unless you use the phone's camera (or compact camera, or any camera for that matter) correctly, the photo will look like you took it with a £3 throw away camera after twelve pints. We have all taken a quick photo and grimaced when looking back at it, confused to why it's such a bad photo!
Here are some of my tips to hopefully help you take better photos.
Our phones do not perform well in low light situations, so whenever I can, I look for the best source light! If you're in a house, get close to the window. The three indoor photos below were taken by a window. Remember that natural light will always give you the best quality photo. Try to avoid fluorescent lighting, it's unnatural and will wash everything out. The flash on your phone is powered by a small LED and it isn't very good BUT, its better than no light, so use as a last resort. You're almost certain to get red eye from using your flash too but most phones have the ability to get rid of this easily enough.
When you're outside, the sun can be a blessing but also it can ruin a photo. If your subject has the sun full on in their eyes, they will squint and that's not what you want. If the sun is behind your subject, their face will be in shadow, again not ideal. What you would hope for is a little cloud cover. The clouds act a diffuser (Just like you get on a professional flash) and this would give you the best result. Try to stand with your back to the sun so no shadows are cast on the face. If you're out on a day where the sun is shining and clouds can't help, remember that a photo can be lightened in post editing but you can't edit eyes open so opt for the sun behind the subject so they can open their eyes. You may even get a nice bit of sun flare in your photo.
This one is really simple. You want to get your subjects eyes into focus. They should be the main focus of your photo. Have you seen a photo where someone has commented "Those eyes"? Well, you won't see any comment like that with a photo where the eyes are out of focus.
This is a big one for me and this is where I see so many people spoil a potentially perfect photo. I am 6"5, so I'm taller than most people. If you ever see me take a photo, you will see that 99% of the time, I will lower my camera to the same height as the subject. That way, they are looking directly at you. If you're taking a photo of a child and you're stood over them, pointing the camera down at them will make them look up, giving the impression of puppy dog eyes. Great if that's the look you were going for but if they are holding a certificate, they don't want to be looking sad. If you are lower than them (Like I am with Tom in the lion photo below), take a few steps back. That way, they aren't looking directly down and you won't get multiple chins.
Theres no right or wrong way to frame your subject but if possible, either take the photo of the whole body or from the waist up. Cutting just the feet out of a photo looks bad. Try taking two photos yourself. One with the feet cut out and then the same photo with just the top half of the body and see which one looks best.
Photography can be very complex but hopefully, these few basic tips will be enough to help you take better photos with your phone. Your phone will never surpass a professional camera and the only way you will get professional looking photos is to use professional kit. This is very, very expensive and unless you plan to become a photographer, its not worth spending that kind of money to take a few photos now and again. The cheapest way to get those photos is to give us a shout and we'll come do all the work for you. All you have to do is turn up and smile :)
Please feel free to comment or if you have any questions, let me know.