Using pocket or cellphone cameras for legal marketing and law firm PR purposes is a great way to share current, authentic and credible visuals. These devices are perfect because they are always with us, easy to handle, and not as invasive and intimidating as professional camera equipment. The hardest thing is to remember to use your pocket or cellphone camera when the photo opportunity presents itself, but taking good photos isn’t as hard as many of us think. Here are a few things to remember to improve the quality of pictures.

1.  Plan your shots, if possible.

Think about what it is that you want to capture and how it will best be communicated to your audience. If you are “shooting on the fly” or capturing breaking news, focus on how you will use the photos, the audience and the story you want to tell.

2.  If using a smartphone, hold it as you would a camera.

Hold the camera with both hands in front of you and look through the screen at the scene you want to capture, rather than looking past the phone at the subject. This will prevent odd angles and improve the photo’s composition.

3. Avoid the zoom option; use your feet instead.

If you want to take a close-up photo, actually walk up to the subject – get as close as possible. With a tiny bit of zooming, your smartphone camera loses quality and the photo will look grainy. If you need to zoom in on an image, use a photo program such as iPhoto or Photoshop on your downloaded image.

4. Take several shots.

The great thing about digital photography is it allows for many attempts and a lot of mistakes. It is well worth it to have options, so feel free to take lots of shots. Move around and get shots in different angles. Frame your photo subjects in interesting ways and avoid centering everything. Once you see the image you like best, you can save the others for future use, or just delete them.

5.  Watch the lighting.

The lower the light, the more grainy the photo will be. Keep the light behind you and be sure your subject is well-lit. Don’t shoot subjects in front of a window, as the light behind the subject will create a dark silhouette. Use natural light to highlight your subject by positioning yourself so the light source is behind the camera and shining on the subject.

6. Check the resolution and picture quality settings – and set them on high.

Settings for digital and cellphone cameras can be confusing. When you first purchase the camera, ask for guidance on finding the highest-quality settings. You can always reduce the quality or size of an image, but you usually can’t increase it and still have an image look good.

7. Keep the camera still.

To keep the camera still, find something to lean your arm/hand/camera on – this makes a big difference and helps reduce camera shake. Keep your hand there for a second after you take the photo, in case your phone has a shutter lag. Use a tripod when possible.

8. Use HDR.

This may seem counterintuitive, but using the built-in High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode on a smartphone camera can actually help you take better macro shots. HDR works by taking multiple images and combining them through software processing to level out the highlights and lowlights in pictures. When used properly, it can often create sharper images.