Low light photography tips for the best smartphone pictures

The year’s most photo-worthy moments always seem to happen during the season of least natural light: Kids trick-or-treating, a Thanksgiving table illuminated by candlelight, a family in front of a Christmas tree, or the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve. So, how can we make sure our low light pictures – even photos taken at night – look bright, clear, and ready to post on social media?

Luckily, we’re equipped with smartphones that can tackle even the trickiest low light situations.

low light photography

Try these tips for taking great photos on your smartphone at night or in low light… and don’t get left in the dark!

  1. Make sure your subjects stay still. This is one of the best ways to prevent blurry photos in low light situations. Telling a toddler on Halloween or a curious puppy on Christmas Eve to stay still is nearly impossible, but it’s worth a try. A great way to get people to stand still for photo is to have a second person stand behind you to captivate and calm the subject with jingly keys or a delicious dog treat. 
  2. Use a tripod. Using a tripod or propping your phone against a stable object will help reduce blur in photos. (And as we all no, blur is one thing we can’t fix with an app). A tripod is one of the most important tools in taking great photos at night. 
  3. Set the scene. Take a few practice photos without your subject to get the lighting and other effects just right, then add kids, friends, parents, and pets for the final shots. 
  4. Turn off your flash off and try some pictures that way. Although it seems counterintuitive, turning off your flash in low light situations may make your pictures look warmer, softer, and, well… better! 
  5. Turn your flash on. “Slow Sync Flash” on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X and “Pseudo Slow-Sync Flash” on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are vast improvements from the blinding light of earlier flashes. We recommend enabling these features in low light situations if you have one of these phones – chances are it will help improve the quality of photos taken at night or in low light. 
  6. Add light. If you need additional lighting when taking photos at night or in low light, put a lamp to the side, just out of the frame, instead of using harsh overhead lighting. Having another friend shine their smartphone’s flashlight on the subject can help add a cool effect while adding much-needed light to the photo scene.
  7. Blur the background. “Portrait Mode” on the iPhone 7s, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X can create a depth effect of blurring the background. This feature is great for photos set in front of holiday lights or other other illuminated nighttime scenes.


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