Discover how to create bold, strong compositions that hold your viewer’s attention. Master the technical side of iPhone photography. And as the word photography literally means light-writing, immerse yourself in the exciting possibilities for manipulating light. The future is bright for iPhone photographers such as you.
Set up your iPhone’s camera
The iPhone 11 series has a set of photography tools that’s a bit different from the previous X-series iPhones and earlier. If you can’t access some of these tips, don’t worry! There’s nothing wrong with your earlier iPhone model. Never feel pressured to buy the latest and greatest.
To set up your iPhone’s camera, go to your Settings app and the scroll down and tap on the Camera option:
- Preserve settings: Keep all options off except Live Photo, which should be turned on.
- Grid: Turn Grid on to aid in composition. This is especially useful for architecture, landscapes, and seascapes.
- Formats: Tap High Efficiency instead of Most Compatible.
- HDR: Keep Smart HDR on unless you are doing high-contrast street photography.
Create a sharp iPhone photograph
Try the following tips and tricks to create a sharp and well-composed iPhone photograph:
- Steady yourself. Don’t hold your iPhone out with arms extended. Hold your iPhone as close to your face or chest as possible, as long as you can see the screen clearly. Near-sighted people will have the advantage here. The closer your iPhone is held to your upper body, the steadier you will be when you take the photo. Push your elbows into your rib cage for added stability.
- Adjust your screen. Too many iPhone photographers shoot and edit with their screen brightness set to medium or low. This is a mistake! Go into Settings and increase your screen brightness to maximum. This is important for both taking photos and editing your photos, but more important for the editing process. An exception, of course, is if you’re photographing in a concert or theater where the brightness of your screen will be a distraction to others.
- Breathe. When the light gets lower in the sky your iPhone’s electronic shutter will need to stay open longer. If you’re not using a tripod and are holding your iPhone in your hand, take a deep breath, and at the very point that you have fully exhaled, take the photo. You will have a steadier shot when your lungs are not active for that brief moment.
Photograph as many genres as possible
Specialist photographers often get to the point in their careers where they’re established enough to be able to afford to specialize. Until you get to that point, learn about the various photographic genres and practice them whenever possible. The more diverse your photographic collection and portfolio, the more opportunities you’ll have.
Here are some tips that will point you in the right direction:
- Landscape photography: Use a tripod with a mobile device clip to hold your iPhone to the tripod head. Photograph early in the morning and at dusk. Use the Rule of Thirds grid to help you compose your landscape photos.
- Sports photography: Use Burst mode to capture many sequential photos to make sure you get the shot of the fast-moving athlete. A Live Photo can do this as well, but the quality options aren’t as advanced as Burst mode.
- Family portraits: To create a sense of depth in your family or individual photos, avoid the sun shining straight onto their faces. Try to have the low evening sunshine from slightly behind the models, which creates an attractive golden rim of warm light. Focus and expose for the faces by doing a long-press on one of the faces to activate AE/AF lock.
- Travel and vacations. Keep signed in to iCloud and take advantage of free Wi-Fi at cafes and your hotel. With many automatic uploads of your photos each day, your photos will be protected in the cloud in case you lose your iPhone.
- Still life and products: Create a mini studio using white, gray, and black Bristol board from your local art supply or dollar store. Use a large window for your single source of light and allow a white sheet of Bristol board to reflect light back onto your product or still life. You can place all of this on a table near a window in your house.
- Street photography: Photograph the people you encounter respectfully and learn the municipal laws and protocols of street photography in your location before your trip begins. Find a cool-looking background and wait for people to enter your frame.
Follow editing best practices
One of the biggest disappointments that first-time iPhone photographers face is mediocre-looking photos. They don’t realize that taking the photo is only the first part! Editing your photo is like painting a canvas, and your editing tools are the paint brushes. Try these editing tips for great-looking photographs:
- Avoid guilt. Don’t let anyone tell you that editing your photo is cheating. Your photo is your art, and there are no limitations to creating art. However, if you’re photographing in the context of photojournalism or commercial photographic genres, you will need to follow genre-specific ethical editing guidelines.
- Maintain subtlety. Unless your artistic style is purposefully meant to be over the top, keep subtlety in mind when using photographic filters.
- Revisit your edits. Because your iOS Photos collection is within a non-destructive environment, you can always go back to your original photo, even years later, and apply new filters or edits based on changing editing styles.
- Aspect ratio choices. Choose a specific aspect ratio for your intended output. For example, 1-x-1 square is great for Instagram, vertical 9-x-16 works well for Pinterest and IGTV thumbnails, and 2-x-3 is a common aspect ratio for the standard 4-x-6-inch print at your local photo store.