You're with a group of friends, and all of a sudden, something amazing happens and everyone reaches for his or her phone. How do you make your picture stand out in a situation like that? Do your other friends really need 20 of the same exact images uploaded to their social-media feed? In situations like this, remember that it is a not a race to who can post what first. Quality always trumps quantity and speed. Next time you see something interesting that you'd like to document, take a second and think of these points.
Think outside the frame: When taking pictures of striking buildings and other architecture, try shooting from unexpected angles or going in for details to differentiate your shot from the typical postcard. Also, try to venture off the beaten track to really capture the spirit of a place.
Catch the sneaky things that lower your resolution: When reproducing a picture –- especially if you're enlarging it –- you want to start with a good-quality or high-resolution image. However, several factors can lessen the resolution. First of all, cameras can be set to take pictures at low resolution to save space, so check your settings. Cropping a photo also makes it lower resolution. And taking photos through apps such as Instagram or Facebook often makes files smaller (and just enough for online use). So take the picture with your phone's camera instead and use the original for whatever app you wish afterward.
Obey the rule of thirds: When taking a picture, imagine that your image is divided into thirds horizontally and vertically -- as if you've drawn a tic-tac-toe board on it. Rather than putting the subject in the center square, put it in any one of the surrounding squares.
Skip the filter: Many cameras and phones come with photo-editing capabilities, and apps offer even more options. These can give interesting results, but for the most natural effect, use them with a gentle hand.
Remember the "golden" rule: Shoot at the "golden hours" whenever possible. In the early morning and late in the day, when the sun isn't as high, the light is softer and subjects are bathed in a flattering light. In the middle of the day, shooting in the shade is more forgiving than bright sunlight, which creates strong shadows.
Now, comes the fun part! Use your photos as inspiration when decorating a party -- from wall decals to garlands to decoupaged rocks. Enjoy them outside of your smartphone.