My iPhone IS my camera. I have a DSLR laying around the house somewhere, but I hardly ever use it anymore. My iPhone is more convenient and the quality improves with every new model. There are even rumors that the iPhone 6s or 7 may be able to take DSLR-like images.
But the iPhone is also many other people’s go-to camera. And mobile phone pics are everywhere these days thanks to Instagram. So how can you stand out from the crowd—how can you make your pictures truly better than other people’s? And what if you just want to take the best iPhone photos you can for your own personal use like to be framed and hung in a prominent position within your house?
There are tons of blog posts and articles telling you how to take better iPhone photos (too many, really) and oftentimes they are way too long. You’re not gonna remember any of what they say when you’re actually about to take a picture. I decided to make things a bit easier on you by putting some tips and suggestions for taking better iPhone pics into a simple list.
There’s some obvious stuff here you might say, “Duh, why didn’t I think about that?!” to mixed in with some pro tips and conventional wisdom along with some iPhone camera setting tweaks and options to try.
Before we get started, here’s rule #1: learn how to use the quick iPhone camera access shortcut to get to your camera app as fast as possible. All the photography tips, advice and apps in the world can’t help with a missed opportunity!
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How To Take Better iPhone Pictures
Let’s start with what you’ve got—just you and your iPhone. People are taking some amazing photos with the iPhone—and so can you. It’s really easier than you think. Here are some useful iPhone photography tips to give your pictures that professional feel. You may want to bookmark this page for easy access next time you want to take a killer shot.
- Make sure your lens is wiped off!
- Use two hands to stabilize your shots.
- Turn on the built-in grid (to take advantage of the rule of thirds).
- Find a cool location. Seriously… you can’t polish a turd.
- Try turning on auto-HDR in camera settings.
- Don’t zoom (or, as they say, zoom with your feet).
- Just keep things simple and uncluttered.
- Use the panorama setting to capture big scenes.
- Pick an angle on purpose (rather than shooting from the chest).
- Use the sun to your advantage; in general, keep it behind you (most photographers say over your shoulder)—or—try including shadows and silhouettes by shooting into the sun.
- Get symmetrical.
- Lighting is everything; sunrise and sunset are instant winners.
- Keep your camera nice and level.
- For fast-moving subjects, continue holding down the shutter button to take multiple photos to choose from (it’s called burst mode).
- Breathe calmly and slowly to prevent shake.
- Reflections are awesome, so be on the lookout.
- Use AE/AF lock (auto exposure and auto focus). Hold your finger on the desired area of the screen until the yellow square double jumps.
- Create a sense of scale using anything from a person to a rock to a light post.
- Get abstract.
- Adjust brightness and contrast for a quick fix.
- Use negative space.
- Un-mute colors: go for intensity.
- Use the volume buttons as shutter buttons (easier when using two hands—see #1 above).
- Take a macro photo (by holding your iPhone super-close to the subject—don’t zoom).
- Going black and white can rescue otherwise ruined photos.
The Best iPhone Photo Apps of 2015
Alright, so now you’ve got the composing part down—what about the editing and effects? It’s as simple—and complex—as picking out the right app for the job. There are so many iPhone filter and camera apps in the App Store it would be pointless to list them all here. Many do the same thing or have a terrible interface. Here are the ones I think matter the most right now—those that are worth a serious look.
- Manual – Custom exposure for your iPhone camera.
- VSCO Cam – Shoot and edit with popular filters. Photos, meet style.
- Oggl – Like Hipstamatic, but you can change the setting in post.
- Mextures – 130 textures, unlimited layering, common editing tools, social editing.
- Autostitch – Take IMMENSE panorama pics in any direction (stitches multiple photos together).
- Rookie – A great live-filter camera app.
- Enlight – Master editing and conquer Instagram; very powerful editing tools.
- SKRWT – Fix distorted lines caused by your phone’s lens.
- Darkroom – Quick and powerful photo editing plus filters.
- Afterlight – Quick and straightforward editing.
- ProCamera 8 – Stunning HDR, manual exposure and white balance.
- Camera+ – The Clarity feature magically transforms your photos in a single tap.
- Snapseed – Enhance, transform and share photos with ease (by Google).
- Hydra – Take MASSIVE HDR images that are higher-quality.
- EyeEm – A mobile photo community (coming soon: sell your photos as stock images).
- Filterstrom Neue – From filters to powerful masking tools.
- TouchRetouch – Remove unwanted elements from photos, easily.
- AfterFocus – Blur out portions of a photo after you take it for a pseudo-focus effect.
- Brushstroke – Turn your photos into paintings.
- Colorsplash – Add or subtract color for any iPhone image.
Featured image via Ian Sane, Flickr.