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Make 2017 the year you step up your iPhone photography. Here's how

As of writing this my phone has 4,527 photos.

Granted a portion of those are embarrassing selfies and pictures of my dog, but between Snapchat and Instagram, phone photography is a big part of how we communicate. With the increasing quality of built-in cameras, there are fewer excuses for bad photos and even more ways to get creative.

Regardless of the type of phone you have, some of the best photos stem from a basic knowledge of composition and lighting:

  • The eye is often drawn to the brightest part of the photo so be careful of glare on walls or an ultra-pale sky. The general rule is that no part of the photo should be completely bright white.
  • If you want an interesting perspective, either crouch down or get an angle from above – even if that means laying on the ground or climbing a ladder.

  • If your goal is to be a selfie queen, those phone cases with LED illuminated edges make everyone look glowing.

  • I keep a small LED light in my purse or camera bag at almost all times – it helps illuminate my still object photos, including my food and drinks. If that seems excessive to you, bum your friend’s phone and turn on their flashlight to illuminate your photo.

(For this photo, I just set the light behind the cocktail glass and let the pretty colors do the rest of the work.)

I’m not going to get into the iPhone vs. Android debate, but there are a few tips for whatever operating system you prefer:

  • Clean your lens before you shoot. Seriously. A cotton shirt works.

  • Try to zoom in as little as possible - just go back and crop it later. Zooming tends to degrade the image quality.

  • Some phones, including the iPhone, let you tap the screen to where you want the camera’s focus to be – meaning that part of the image will be sharp while the rest of it will be soft and slightly blurry.

  • If you do have an iPhone, try turning on the HDR settings. It can help make your colors more vibrant but it’s harder to use with moving subjects.

There are a million photo apps, but I prefer to stick to the basics:

  • Instagram almost goes without saying, but I do love their straightening tools

  • VSCO has a whole community attached to it. Although the mobile app is harder to navigate, the filters are excellent.

  • Snapseed is my go-to when I want to fine-tune my photos. Created by Google, it offers more advanced but still-intuitive tools like blurring, brightening and white balance. However, in addition to the filter selection, it also offers text and frame features.

  • Afterlight was super popular when it let you format any photo into a square, back when Instagram wouldn’t accept any other shape. The filters are still clutch and it offers editing options as well

(Sadly, Afterlight won't make you look more buff, but the white frame can give you more control over composition.)