Simple Smartphone Photo Editing Tips for Beginners

New to smartphone photography? Whether or not you’ve opened up your camera app’s settings menu, getting lab-quality photos with your smartphone isn’t as difficult as some would have you believe. With a few handy tips, an editing tool here and there, a bit of confidence, and one of the best Android smartphones out there, you can impress your friends and family with some of the best photos they’ve ever seen.

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In this guide, we’ll give you some basic tips for smartphone photography beginners, including easy ways to get the best show and how to edit that shot once you’ve taken it.

Get the best images

The clearest way to get a good photo is to take one. It’s so simple. However, while the pros make it look easy, getting the right shot takes a little more finesse than you might think. These tips are easy to follow and should give you a good foundation for a solid photograph that will lend itself to more effective photo editing.

Use grid lines

Grid lines are there for a reason! You may not realize it, but photography is a calculated art that can be impacted by spacing your subjects in a particular way. Whether you want to frame your subject in the middle of the image or juxtapose it with others, you’ll need to know where they are in relation to the rest of the image. This is where grid lines come in handy.

Almost all smartphone camera apps let you add grid lines, showing you how an image works geographically. You can often customize the type of grid lines you have, whether it’s 3×3, 4×4, or the golden ratio, a popular option for more advanced photographers.

Pixel camera app with sliders for exposure, shade and temperature

Don’t forget to focus

It’s not immediately apparent when taking photos on your smartphone’s camera app, but if you want to be sure the subject of your photo is crystal clear, you’ll need to focus. Smartphones make this easy, because all you do is touch your screen where you want to focus, and bam, you’re in business. It may seem obvious, but if you haven’t, you’ll probably notice the substantial difference on your first try.

Avoid zooming

Yes, some smartphones have exceptionally impressive zooms, including the famous 100x zoom on recent Samsung phones like the Galaxy S22. These cameras are designed to give you solid images from afar, which is good if you need them. Still, if you’re looking to edit your photos, zooming in too much can make images look over-processed and even pixelated, which probably isn’t what you’re looking for. So avoid zooming if you want to try your hand at more beautiful photo editing.


Wipe your lens

This one can be easy to overlook on a day-to-day basis, but it can make a huge difference in image quality. Maybe you ate greasy fast food and hastily grabbed your phone before hanging up a napkin. Maybe you accidentally pressed the wrong side of your device against your face when you received a phone call.

Regardless of how you’ve stained your smartphone camera, wiping the lens before embarking on your smartphone photography adventure will be essential to ensure you get the highest quality photos from the camera. first attempt. After all, it doesn’t matter how good the sensor is if it has to go through a thick layer of finger oil.

Shoot in RAW

We know this guide is for beginners, but if you really want to branch out and take your photo editing seriously, start shooting in RAW, an uncompressed, unprocessed image file that facilitates more in-depth editing. Knowing when and how to shoot in RAW is essential. These image files allow for much more visible changes when it comes to photo editing, allowing you to have a greater impact on the final output of the project.


It should be noted, however, that RAW files are significantly larger than the standard JPEG format, so they will take up a lot of space on your smartphone. If you don’t plan to edit or process these images, it’s best to leave them in JPEG format.

Editing your best photos

Now that you’ve taken a high-level shot with your smartphone using the previously mentioned tips, it’s time to start editing. No guide will make you an expert photo editor after a quick read. As with most endeavors, it takes practice to fully understand the ins and outs of photo editing, which means you won’t get professional-looking photos the first time.

Still, there are a few tips and tricks that can get you started on the right foot, and we’re here to give you as many as possible.

Crop till you drop

Chances are your original image isn’t exactly what you were looking for. Luckily, modern smartphone photography is decidedly compatible with a simple crop here and there, so don’t feel tied down to your original image. Just press those edges, find your perfect frame and start your photo editing on the photo you wanted to take.

Be sure not to overdo it though. The same way a zoom can ruin the integrity of your image, an aggressive cropping strategy can end the same way. Use cropping to tidy up the edges rather than creating an entirely new image, and you should be fine.

Lighting is the way

In an ideal world, every photo would be taken in perfect natural light and you would never need to edit anything. However, we live on a planet where the sun sets, so getting the ideal lighting for each image depends on the time of day. That is, unless you can tweak the lighting with tools like brightness and contrast, which pretty much every smartphone camera app on the planet allows for.

As for how to use these parameters, the key is to avoid extremes for both. Too much light makes the image look washed out, while too little light makes it look like you’ve taken a picture in a cave. Try to find a nice middle ground to improve your image without fundamentally altering it beyond repair.

Colors will set you free

Unless you prefer that black-and-white smartphone photography vibe, color is a big part of your photos. If you’re looking to boost the color of your photos a bit, use settings like hue and saturation as much as possible. With tint, you can alter the fundamental color of the image, making it more substantial. For saturation, you can change the richness of the color, giving it more pop than you see in high quality images.

In 2022, many phones offer features such as auto color or color blocking to create unique color images, so be sure to check your device’s different modes before taking a photo.

Introduction to mobile photography

There are plenty of smartphones out there with great cameras to start with. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Google Pixel 6 Pro are two of our favorites, providing top-notch cameras and sensors in their devices and also offering some of the most robust built-in photo editing capabilities for their users. If you want to learn a little more about how to take the best photos, be sure to take a look at our Mobile Photography Week 2022 coverage from August 2022.

Jack C. Nugent