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iPhone Photography Best Practices: 10 Tips to Help You Not Suck.

How to Take Better Photos with Your iPhone

The iPhone in your pocket is an amazing tool that comes with a pretty great camera. And you can take very good pictures with it, especially if you keep these ten iPhone photography tips in mind.

1. Shoot in Landscape Mode

Our visual perception is used to a wide perspective conducive to scanning from side to side. Human vision evolved to landscape mode.

Turn your phone sideways/horizontal when taking pictures.

Shooting in landscape mode will yield better photos. It’s a much more cinematic composition that will train you to tell stories with pictures.

2. Learn to Adjust Exposure Manually.

Exposure is how the camera deals with light. Sometimes your camera gets it right on its own. But not always. Use the native camera app on iPhone and tap the screen to bring up the manual exposure slider (a little yellow sun appears). Adjust your exposure to allow for the best possible lighting for the most important part of your shot. Practice this.

Back-lit subjects, or people shot against bright backgrounds are tough to shoot.

If possible try and reduce shadows on faces.

3. Avoid Using the Flash.

In general the flash blows out images and washes out faces. You should only use it when absolutely necessary. There’s nothing that screams “bad phone photo” like an over-lit ghost-face or a reflection.

If you MUST photograph in a dark room try and use available artificial light sources to help out and keep this in mind:

  • Never use the flash in front of a window or other shiny surface

  • Do NOT photograph food with the flash.

4. Don’t Zoom In.

Move physically closer to your subject. Zoomed in photos turn out pixelated and blurry.

If you absolutely must zoom, use two hands and keep the phone steady,

5. Be Mindful of High Contrast Lighting Situations.

This might be the trickiest part of photography. Shooting from beneath a shaded area out toward a sunny location is a challenging situation for the camera. It cannot expose correctly for both the bright light and the darker human subjects. Choose human over environment to get the best exposure for the face or body of your subject.

Shadows mixed with sunlight result in poor photos. It looks cool to the eye, but the camera is inferior to the eye when it comes to light and dark, so avoid shadowy situations if you can.

6. Think Story.

When composing your shot think about what you hope to communicate. What will the viewer think is happening in the photo? What do you want them to think?

Capture emotion, celebration, joy. Your composition should attempt to encompass a full moment. Focus on faces, reactions, emotional peaks and valleys.

Be patient. Anticipate when things are going to happen. Take a lot of photos.

7. Be Memorable.

If your target is social media you want to create compelling, if not irresistible - images that will stop a person in their tracks when scrolling through their news feeds.

Use objects in the foreground to create interesting perspectives and framing for shots.

8. Forced Perspective = Drama

Use available perspective lines to create drama and draw the eye into and through the shot. When possible keep lines that are supposed to be perpendicular to the ground plane parallel to the edge of the frame.

9. Know the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a compositional technique that can be used in all types of photography to create images which are more engaging and balanced.

The rule of thirds involves mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, as shown below. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet.

10. Even, Ambient Light is Your Best Friend

In general direct sunlight is the worst time for photos. Golden hour light (an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset) is ideal. It’s soft, moody, and flattering.

When shooting faces you don’t want direct light in the subject’s eyes. Don’t have them face the sun. Look for bright but even light. Overcast days are best for faces.

Avoid shadows, hotspots, and high contrast lighting conditions.

An off-center composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame. It also encourages you to make creative use of negative space, the empty areas around your subject.

Of course, rules should never be applied blindly, so you should think of it more as a handy "rule of thumb" rather than one that's set in stone. However, it will produce a pleasing photo more often than not, and is an excellent starting point for any composition.


Practice these tips. Take lots of photos. And learn to use an editor - that's an app that lets you process your photos AFTER you've taken them. But more on that in the next post: Editing Your iPhone Photos. For now find good light, compose interesting photos and remember don't use the flash!

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