Whatever smartphone you have, there are many common tips and tricks and also pitfalls to avoid in order to achieve a digital album full of the flashiest of pictures and mini movies.  


Capturing the greatest shots always comes down to knowing what your smartphone can do. Camera quality and options vary vastly between handsets and brands. For example, this page from Apple breaks down loads of tips across the different iPhone models while this Samsung page has great tricks for owners of different Galaxy models. Spending time on research is vital and YouTube is another great place to find thousands of instructional videos that will quickly teach you a lesson or two.


Selfie sticks have been around for a while but some great ones double up now as strong and stable tripods. Amazon is full of them. The biggest bloggers and influencers create multiple videos each day and they keep that footage steady with a simple gadget such as this, costing less than £20 in most cases. There's nothing worse than watching a self-filmed video that's shaking because it's been shot handheld. It's a simple tip but well worth the initial investment. 


Another great bit of kit is a selfie light. The flash on your smartphone can only do so much. Again if you look on Amazon you'll find all different options, from LED lights that sit on a tripod setup or so-called Selfie Rings that should sit between you and the smartphone to fully light up your face. These work brilliantly when shooting video of yourself speaking to the camera and are perfect when recording video blogs or funny selfie footage.


With videos, it's way too easy to hold your phone vertically and just press record. But this really limits editing, especially for turning clips into films on software such as iMovie to show on your computer or telly. You'll have loads of dead space on either side of the footage. It is often also very restrictive for sharing the same video across different platforms as many prefer landscape (the phone turned on its side) as it achieves a better result.


Follow a key tip known as the Rule of Thirds. It suggests imagining a 3x3 grid on your screen but some camera apps will have a setting to add gridlines on it. This allows you to frame your photo or video well by aligning the main subjects or main part of the image within one or two thirds of the grid - either vertically or horizontally. It's great for eyelines - putting those in a focal part of the shot.


One common pitfall is not standing close enough to your subject. On video this causes muffled or patchy sound and on still photographs means you rely way too much on digital zoom, which causes a loss of resolution or photo quality. If you really want to capture the best shot, get up close and then zoom in, but sparingly or buy a clip-on lens to offer greater magnification or wide angles. Prices vary but there's something to suit all budgets.


Most smartphones should have a slow motion mode and a panorama mode. You can have so much fun shooting video in slo-mo but panorama can offer some of the most stunning shots you'll ever take. This one allows you to take a picture of a big group of people or very wide landscape by moving the phone slowly from left to right - and trying to keep it steady. You'll end up with an ultra-wide shot that's automatically stitched together.


When it comes to the newest phones on the market, such as the iPhone 11 series, Google Pixel 4 and some Samsung Galaxy models, there is a degree of waterproofing that will allow you to shoot underwater. However, read the restrictions before using it in this way. Each will have certain depths it can go to and different types of water it works in and lengths of time for submersion. Importantly, some may not take to seawater for too long.


Once you have your photos and videos, you'll want to give them new life with an edit. Most smartphones allow you to do this on-board but specific apps allow far more professional outcomes. Splice and Kinemaster are great apps for editing and creating videos simply and intuitively, as is iMovie for iPhone. Facetune2 is brilliant if you want to spruce up your selfies while Canva not only lets you easily edit photographs, it will also allow you to create great designs for printing or sharing.


You've captured the best summer memories so why take the risk of losing them. It's so important to back up everything you take. One of the main benefits of ultrafast broadband from Gigaclear is backing up takes no time at all to upload even the longest home movie. You can find out more about using the cloud to store your photos and videos online in our two-part storage guide - Part 1 and Part 2.

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