Whether its holiday snaps, precious moments with the family or a beautiful sunset viewed from your own back garden, most of us would love to be able to take better photos with our mobile phone.

It doesn’t matter what type of camera you’re using, taking a great photo has a lot more to do with how you capture the image than with the equipment you’re using. A few simple adjustments and a handful of basic techniques borrowed from the professionals can make a huge difference to your photos. Here’s a few tips to get you started.

Clean Your Lens

Your phone goes everywhere you do. It’s in your hand, your pocket, your bag, all the while, the phone’s camera lens is collecting all kinds of dirt, dust and lint. Be sure to clean the lens with a soft handkerchief before taking a photo. You might not be able to tell just how dirty but making sure the lens is crystal clear before taking a shot can make a huge difference to your image.

Use Gridlines

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera’s gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera that are based on the “rule of thirds” — a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total. According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally

Set the Focus

Today’s phone cameras automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to sharpen the view.

Avoid Zooming

When you take a photo from a distance, it’s tempting to zoom in on something specific you’re trying to capture. But it’s actually better not to zoom in — doing so can make the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated. Instead, try to get closer to your subject or take the photo from a distance, and crop it later on. That way, you won’t compromise quality.

Compose Your Shots

Many of the best photos include just one, interesting subject. So when taking a picture of one person or subject, spend some extra time setting up the shot. Try to find the perfect setting for your subject – use framing, leading lines and negative space.

Use Negative Space

“Negative space” simply refers to the areas around and between the subjects of an image –and it can take a photo from “good” to “great.” When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer. Some professional photographers say that the subject should not fill the entire frame, and that two-thirds of the photo should be negative space.

Leading Lines

In some photos, there’s a line that draws the viewer’s eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or curved — think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the woods.

Be Creative

Once you’ve mastered the basics, try experimenting with things like symmetry, perspective and reflection. Our eyes are naturally drawn to unusual images. There are lots of places to find reflections — puddles, larger bodies of water, mirrors, sunglasses, and metallic surfaces are just a few. Try changing the viewers perspective by taking photos from a unique, unexpected angle can make them more memorable. Look for symmetry in nature and in the built environment.

Edit

Composing and taking your smartphone photo is just the first step to making it visually compelling. Editing your photos is the next step — and a very critical one, at that. There are lots great photo and video editing apps out there for mobile devices — check out this post to see some of the best ones out there.

Keep Practicing

The best way to improve your photography is to keep learning and practicing. Check out these two excellent video tutorials from Pixel Village. Together they’ve been viewed more than 9million times online!