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5 Tips for Taking Great Photos with your Smartphone

The Tri-Cities Historical Museum has a great collection of photographs that were taken in the past. To tell the story of the Tri-Cities, we rely on photographs of important events and daily life. With our 30-day photo challenge, we invite you to document this important time in history and how it is affecting your daily life. Follow along with our 30-Day photo challenge on Facebook and Instagram posting your pictures with the hashtag #TCHMPhotoChallenge!








This photo challenge is a great way to bring the whole family together to take pictures! Parents, if you would like some more tips on teaching your kids how to take pictures on a smartphone or tablet, check out this article from the Kid’s Camera Guide.


Whether you want to pick up a new hobby, express your creativity, or document memories and the world around you, photography is a useful skill to learn. With smartphones, learning photography has never been easier! To get you started, we’re providing 5 tips on taking better photos with a smartphone.


  1.   Clean the lens 

         We touch our phones a LOT. That tends to leave oils and dirt on our screens and camera lenses. (It’s also why we ask                   people not to touch historic artifacts!) One simple way to take better photos with your smartphone is to make sure the               lens is clean before you take a picture. You don’t need any special tools, I just use the hem of my shirt. Once your lens is             clear, you’ll be able to take clear photos! Take a look at the difference below: 

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​​2.  Set your focus/exposure 

      Have you ever tried taking a photo of something inside, and the light from the nearby window just turns everything                black? Once you start looking through a camera lens you’ll notice that there’s a huge difference between outside and            inside light. Your brain is great at seeing both at the same time. But your camera needs a little help to focus on the right        light. Tap the “subject” (the person or object you want to take a picture of) on your screen, and your camera will                      automatically adjust to light it. If you hold down your finger on the subject, your phone will lock in the “exposure”                  (settings). To adjust the picture to be lighter or darker, slide your finger up or down on your screen. See a demonstration        in the video above and an example below: 


​​3.  Adjust lighting 

     It might seem like a great idea to take a picture of someone in front of a window. But as we saw before, we often end up       with a dark shape. Try switching places and have your subject facing the window instead of standing in front of it. All that       bright outside light will light up your subject instead of drowning them out! If you don’t have bright, outside light                   (sometimes called “natural light”) try turning on more lights inside, bringing your subject closer to the light, or moving           the light closer to your subject. See an example below: 


​​4.  Get closer (if you can!) 

      When you zoom in on a digital photo, the image gets “pixelated.” Did you know that the same thing happens when you        use the zoom on your smartphone camera while you’re taking the photo? That’s because smartphones don’t actually              zoom in. Instead, it crops the image making it look closer, but without adding more detail. If you can, try moving closer          to the person or object you want to take a picture of. Your camera will capture more detail, it will get you moving                    around, and your picture will look great! See the difference in the example below: 


​​5.   Compose your shot 

      “Compose your shot” is just a fancy way to say set up your picture. Make sure you can see everything you want in your           picture. Then, check the background to make sure you’re not getting anything you DON’T want. It can be as simple as           moving a chair or other small object out of the shot. Or politely asking someone to step aside for a moment. If you                 can’t move the distracting thing in the background, try moving yourself or try a different angle that avoids the thing you         don’t want in your picture. See an example below: 


We hope these tips help you take some great photos, we can’t wait to see them! Happy snapping! #TCHMPhotoChallenge

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