Taking photos to capture important life moments has been a popular tradition for the last 60 years. This used to require carrying around a bulky camera everywhere and waiting days for the photos to be developed. All you have to do now is pull a smartphone out of your pocket. While the entire process has been streamlined, it still takes skills to get the perfect shot. These are four essential tips for taking good photos with your phone.

Turn Off the Flash

You may be tempted to use the flash when taking photos at night or in a dark room, but this will actually hurt the look of the photo. The flash ruins the sharp contrast that makes dark photos look so unique. If you absolutely need to add a little extra lighting, then it is best only to use natural light. This will prevent the photo from looking overexposed.

Focus On One Thing

If you want to get the most out of your smartphone photos, it is best to focus on one subject. With the camera able to focus on one thing, you will get more vivid and lively images. Smartphone cameras still have a tough time delivering crystal clear images when there are multiple subjects. This is why it is so hard to get the perfect group photo.

Turn On Gridlines

There is a universal photography principle that says the subject should fill roughly a third of the frame. The rest of the photo should be negative space. This advanced technique is a great way to ensure your smartphone photos look professional. The easiest way to pull this off is by turning on the camera’s gridlines. Get the subject in three grids while the background fills up the rest of the frame.

Do Not Zoom

A typical amateur photography mistake is using the camera’s zoom when taking photos from a distance. Zooming will almost always result in a grainy or blurry picture. It is best to use the default distance even if you cannot get that close to the photo’s subject. A wide shot with clear resolution is always better than a pixelated close shot. You can always crop the photo later without compromising its clarity.