4 years ago

8 Tips For Taking Better iPhone Photos in 2014

photography, iPhone
Taken with the iPhone5S

I’ll start off by admitting the obvious: I am by no means a mind blowing photographer.  A lengthy scroll through my 1600 Instagram photos, if you dare, will tell the tale of improvement; although thar still be plenty hastily taken and posted photos.

However, I did do that art school thang: I have a foundation of the basic principles/elements of design and composition…blahblahblah.
I like to tell myself I DO know how to implement that knowledge. Sometimes I’m right. My husband might beg to differ, especially when in the middle of Ikea arguing over how to decorate our home and he wants a vase full of crushed seashells topped with a tumbleweed and I want a vase filled with grandma’s faux flowers. But that’s another story for another time.  Okay, that has nothing to do with taking iPhone pics.

 How can we take better iPhone pictures in 2014? Here’s my point two cents:

  •  I am currently using an iPhone5S, though some of these photos are taken with an iPhone4S and I’ll indicate which. I am writing this assuming you know how to operate a camera phone too.

My unfortunate subject matter for some of the examples is my middle son, Emmett, who is currently sleeping through the barfs and the heavy D’s of whatever virus which has struck Happy House.  Hmm. That sounds happy. Okay, go!

1. Lay off the flash.

Taken with an iPhone4S, in the dungeon, Bumpy Bridge House. (regrammed)

Only use that blinding lightning strike to find your keys in the dark. A huge part of taking pictures that are pleasing to the eye exclude this harsh, unflattering, direct light. Turn it from “Auto” to OFF. Unless you like how that looks, then by all means…


2. Use Natural Light

Taken with an iPhone5S

The best photographs, in my opinion, use natural sunlight to illuminate the subject. Find a place in your house or outside which is filled with filtered, not direct light: It might be your bathroom, your front porch, the landing at the top of some stairs, the floor in your kitchen.

Pay attention to the kind of light projected in those spots as the sun moves in the sky throughout the day.  These lighting patterns can create different moods for your pictures. It’s fun to test and practice taking pictures in the same spot at different times of the day, and on different days when it might be raining outside or cloudy.

3. Take as many photos as you want AKA: PRACTICE.

Don’t feel guilty about taking “too many photos”.  FUH-REAL.

If you’re trying to photograph your fidgety children, how can anyone, even a professional photographer, expect to get a beautiful picture if he or she only snaps one pic?

There’s a delete function on your phone.  Take 20 photos, select the 3 (or, in my case, the ONE) you like best and delete the rest of the blurry attempts.  It doesn’t have to be 20 successive photographs of the same thing. Maybe 20 photos throughout the day, maybe during a family gathering. It doesn’t have to be 20. Whatever your magic number- you don’t even need to keep count! I’m just tossing a number out there.  Just… refer to the link above.

One clean photo is better than 20 blurry photos, but sometimes it takes the 20, or however many, in order to achieve a winner. The more you practice, the less photographs you’ll need to take.

4. Try different angles.

Taken with an iPhone 5S

Don’t be lazy just sitting there and snapping a pic of your kids from your recliner. Get up, get down at their level.

Hover above the scene.
Take a picture of precious toddler fingers gripping a toy.
Try something other than the obvious.

5. Zoom in.

No. Don’t use the zoom function. ever.  It makes the photo grainy, and lemme tell you about my favorite fuzzy portrait I’ve ever seen… . . yeah –no.  In conjunction to number 4: Get up, and physically “zoom into” your subject.

photography, intro to photography, blogging
You’re trying to capture your pathetically sick child, not give everyone a tour of your disheveled, un-color coordinated living room. And I promise you, there’s plenty more clutter where that came from. (iPhone5S)

This crops out all of the distracting …crap… surrounding your subject, and creates a cleaner photograph.

With the living room cut out, Emmett is clearly the story I’m telling, and the story on which the viewer focuses. It’s cleaner and easier to view, even with a print on the blanket. (iPhone5S)

6. Don’t allow the fact that you don’t have a beautiful setting keep you from taking pictures.

When we lived at Bumpy Bridge House, I took a lot of photos outside.(Regrammed) (iPhone4S)

Trust me on this one. I used to live in a house with a kitchen full of peeling cabinets and a black/burgundy marble floor.

If you can employ numbers 4 & 5, having an ugly background doesn’t matter because:

You’re not taking a picture of your ugly background, you’re taking a picture of your cup of coffee, or your pet, or your child.
Unless you’re using your iPhone to photograph your house for a realtor (which in that case, WHO ON EARTH HIRED YOU?), no one needs to see the entirety of the environment to understand the photographic story you’re telling.

7.  Having a computer and an expensive photo editing program are OPTIONAL.

Yes. A computer andPhotoshop absolutely expand the possibilities of enhancing your photo quality. Obviously, it’s counted as a necessity these days for professionals.  But, if you don’t know how to take a clean picture in the first place, no app or program in the world is going to fix that.  I assure you, an expensive camera won’t fix that either.

HOWEVER. You can find one or two photo editing apps for your iPhone, if you’d like to play around with it.  If anyone is interested, I can dedicate another post about Photo Editing Apps, but it would be more technical and in-depth than the purpose of this current post.

8.  Get inspired.

Find and follow other bloggers, designers, photographers and artists who you admire! Try to utilize the above tips to create a photograph in a similar style to one you enjoy viewing.

Taken with an iPhone4S in the burgundy living room at Bumpy Bridge House. Who knew?


Overall, if you want to improve your pictures, that’s really the first and only step required: striving for improvement.

The steps I’ve listed above will tend to naturally fall into place and (hopefully, if I’m a good teacher), you’ll begin to think about the purpose of the photo you’re about to snap, and you’ll adjust your picture taking habits accordingly.

Lastly, can I mention the people who’ve inspired me to take better pictures this year?

Heather Ford from Two Blooms Photography
A little biased because she’s my long time best friend. BUT. This Catholic mom of 2 started her business from nothing. Sheused what she had, not able to go and buy the fanciest of everything. She worked her tail off, and watching her grow and be empowered makes me admire her for her persistence and belief in herself. WERK.

Vanessa Borer.
Her photography is always beautiful, her little boy is adorable, and we seem to share similar humor. Art, funnies, and mommahood are the bonds that bind.

Elizabeth Gilmore.
I have to preface this comment with the fact that I’ve admired her for her strong, brilliant personality since we were in middle school together performing in the musicals Pirates of Penzance, and then Starmites.  I say colorful, bright, hilarious, strong: and her images reflect it.

What The Wilsons Wore. 
Rubilly is a Catholic momma friend, from high school, who is creative in every single thing she does.  No matter what she touches, it looks good. She and her husband have two little boys who I could squish their little faces off from the cuteness.

Carin from ParisinFourMonths.
I don’t know this lady at all other than she likes France, I like France, and her images are delightful. She’s also on Instagram.

Katie Rodgers from Paper Fashion.
Her line work and brush stroke, mixed with glitter and classic fashion are delightful. If you’ve never seen her arts, go see her arts. Why are you still reading my flimsy words? Flimsy I tell you!

That’s it! Go have fun taking pretty iPhone pics this year.  Happy 2014!

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