Your phone is a one-stop-shop for taking, editing, sharing and printing fantastic photographs.

Here’s how to shoot better snaps and get more from your amazing pocket-sized picture-maker.

Tip 1: Line up your photos

Good composition can make a huge difference. Photographers go by the ‘Rule of Thirds’ In simplest terms, this means the focal point of your image shouldn’t be in the centre. Instead, integral elements like a landmark, a person or a horizon should appear a third of the way across or down the image. Most phones let  you  overlay a grid to help you line up snaps.*

Tip 2: Embrace the light

Good photos are possible with any smartphone camera, if composition and natural lighting are good. In most cases, try to shoot with light behind you to avoid dark subjects and lens flare. There are exceptions of course, like sunrise and sunsets, which are worth getting up for to capture brilliant photos.

Tip 3: Put it all into focus

Unlike most compact cameras, smartphones have one-touch manual focus, so you can tap anywhere on the screen to change where it’s focusing. The camera apps on both iOS and Android phones have been trained to recognise and automatically focus on faces.

Tip 4: Avoid zooming

Are your phone pictures grainy and pixelated? You’re probably zooming in too close on your subjects. The solution? Don’t zoom - crop images afterwards: most smartphone cameras let you shoot at a high enough resolution to do this

Tip 5: Turn the flash off… forever

No light? Find some. Can’t find some? Alter the exposure to try to create some. On an iPhone do this by adjusting the sun icon to allow more light into the sensor find out how to do this here. On Android, settings differ, but an app like Manual Camera can help.

Tip 6: Snap quickly

Most smartphones offer quick access to the camera without you having to unlock the phone so you don’t miss spontaneous photo opportunities. Swipe up on the camera icon at the bottom lock screen.

Tip 7: Learn to love a selfie

Forget beautiful landscapes, pets, family portraits, famous landmarks… most phone photos are of ourselves.

To capture better selfies: 

  • Use the front-facing camera so you can frame properly;
  • Shoot from above, rather than below, it cuts down the number of chins;
  • Follow the tips above on lighting and composition;
  • For the most effective selfie framing, surrender your pride and buy a selfie stick;
  • Don’t do ‘duck pout’ or poke your tongue out. You may think it’s cute or zany, but you’ll annoy everyone who sees it

Couple with selfie stick

Tip 8: Capture the entire scene…

Feeling constrained by the confines of a frame? Why not capture an entire panorama? Both the Google Camera app for Android and the iPhone camera app have superb, easy-to-use panorama modes that will allow you to gradually scan a scene and create a beautiful wide-angled image.

Tip 9: …Then come full circle

The future is virtual! Using your smartphone you can easily create 360-degree photos to be experienced in virtual reality using a headset.

Android users can download the free, official Cardboard Camera app while iPhone users can try the Google Cardboard app.  Once the image has rendered, pop your phone into a cardboard headset (which cost around £15) for the full 360-degree experience. You can also upload 360-degree photos to Facebook for others to see. Facebook 360 detects compatible photos, so you can upload them via the app like normal.

Tip 10: Edit before sharing

Taking holiday photos is just a quarter of the battle. Next comes tweaking, then sharing and finally storing them. These apps can edit your snaps to perfection:

  • Prisma: The newest app craze turns your selfies into abstract art with over a dozen filters (iPhone/Android)
  • BeFunky: Great editing app lets you create collages of multiple pictures. You can also annotate with text. (iPhone/Android)
  • Afterlight: 75 filters, 78 textures, 15 cropping options and 128 frames. What else do you need? (iPhone/Android)

Woodpost app

Tip 11: Share ‘cos you care

Everyone shares their snaps on Facebook, Instagram or with friends via email or WhatsApp. Here are some other fun sharing methods to consider.

  • Woodpost: Print your favourite pictures on wood and enjoy free shipping worldwide.(iPhone)
  • Touchnote: Why send a clichéd postcard when you can send a photo of the whole family with a personalised message. It will even arrive before you get back. (iOS/Android)
  • Cluster: Share photos and videos with private groups. Especially good if you want to keep pictures of children or parties off social media. (iPhone/Android)

Tip 12: Store photos safely

Phone loss, theft or breakage can rob you of years of photographic memories. Upload your pics  to the cloud for safe keeping. You’ll still have instant access and more space on your phone for apps and games. It’s a win-win.

BT Cloud is free to all BT broadband customers, who get either 50GB or 500GB storage, which is enough for a whopping 250,000 photos. Download it to start backing up your photos.

Image credit: Rene Hawk Flickr

Do you take photos using your smartphone? Why not share some tips with fellow BT.com readers in the Comments below.