Cell Phone Photography Tips

Oct 18, 2013

Ok. We’re not in the photography business, we’re in the custom photo jigsaw puzzle business. But since your great photos lead to great photo puzzles, seemed like a good idea to write about taking great photos.

We’re limiting our tips here to taking photos with cell phone cameras. If you’ve got a really great digital camera, chances are pretty good that you know more than we do about taking pictures. Which means we can’t wait to see how awesome your photo puzzle turns out!

The truth is that the majority of us are now walking around with fairly decent cameras on our person 24/7. They’re at our fingertips at work, in restaurants, on walks and standing in line waiting for our lattes. Our ability to capture moments in our lives in picture is unprecedented. Still, it can take a bit of work to actually capture that moment accurately.

Here are some basic tips:

1.  Clean your lens.  Probably seems pretty “duh,” but we don’t think about the cleanliness of our cell phone camera lenses, and those things get a lot of time in our hands. So every now and then, take a soft cloth and wipe away the daily grime.

2. Avoid subjects in low light or with bright reflections. While these phones take amazing pictures, unlike a dedicated camera, they were not created with picture taking as their primary function, so the ability to adjust for those conditions is limited.

3. Be aware of focus. Try not to take a picture that requires a lot of focusing. Why? See the reason stated above.

4. Avoid “selfies,” the new term for pictures you take of yourself.  While these are definitely fun, they don’t make the highest quality photos. But they do make really hilarious postings on Facebook and Instagram. (And, I suppose, they would probably make for some interesting photo puzzles, too, under the right circumstances.)

5. Go big. If your phone has the option to select your resolution setting, select the highest resolution possible to have the best quality photo, especially if you want to print it out or create a My Personal Puzzle with it.

6. Take clean pictures. For quality purposes, turn off any gadgets (like fun frames or colorizing treatments). If you want to add those later, there are lots of programs that can create those effects for you.  Remember, you can always add them later but you can’t take them away easily. Kinda like tattoos.

7. To flash or not to flash? Remember that flash is not always your friend. But sometimes it is. Unless you have to capture something incredibly quickly, try taking one picture with the flash and then one without. That’s the beauty of digital photography — you can instantly see which one works better in what setting.

8. Turn on HDR. Most new smartphones have a high dynamic range (HDR) setting that takes multiple photos and compiles them into one image to provide the best possible image. The result can provide greater contrast between light and dark colors and make your photo more vibrant. This generally works well, especially for scenic shots, so you might experiment with turning this on.

9. Use two hands whenever possible to hold your camera. Blurry pictures make everyone sad.

10. And finally: don’t over think it. Sometimes the best thing is to follow your instincts and snap that shot before the moment is gone. But with time and practice, implementing these tips will come more naturally and soon you won’t even think about them before shouting “Cheese!”

We can’t wait to see your great pictures become beautiful puzzles. Happy snapping!


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Puzzle Quality Tips x

Why am I Getting a Low Quality Score?

When it comes to printing, we need a high quality photo for the best results. The larger the image, the better the results are going to be. If you're uploading a photo we recommend sending us the largest version of the photo you have. Here's some quick tips that may help you.

  • File sizes less than 500k are likely going to be too small of a photo.
  • Try grabbing images directly from your camera, do not re-size them. 
  • For smaller puzzles (like our 16, 100, 250, 500), a great camera setting is 6MP or 3000x2000 pixels
  • For larger puzzles (like our 300, 1000, 1500 piece) a good camera setting would be 10MP or 5000x3600 pixels