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10 Tips for Better iPhone Photography

Picture of iphone background blur

Anyone who owns an iPhone will probably know they’ve got access to an excellent camera. Apple’s camera technology has helped smartphone owners everywhere become amateur photographers! However, while the software and technology may seem simple, there’s actually a lot you can do with your iPhone. If you’ve been taking photos with your phone for a while now, you may be wondering how to make the most of your shots.

While you can always put your photos through editing suites, surely it makes sense to grab some great shots on the go! In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best and easiest ways to get the coolest shots around.

1. Keep it Simple

For the best results, you should always think about keeping your photos simple. The way a shot is laid out, the composition, can get crowded if you try and shoot too many things at once! The iPhone is great at helping you work out your composition. That is thanks to its wide range and zoom.

 To keep it simple, try and choose one subject to shoot. You may even want to get closer up for more focus or to try and cut out the background. The iPhone’s camera has plenty of guidelines, and simple compositions are always easy to achieve.

Just try and focus on not making your shot too distracting! Get in plenty of plain or natural background, or make your subject the whole photo.

2. Pay Attention to Gridlines

You’ve probably seen that the iPhone camera loves its gridlines. But they’re not there to be annoying! You can switch these on and off in your camera settings, and you’ll want to activate them if you like symmetry and straight lines.

Gridlines will appear on your viewing window, which means you can now take some really artistic images. Your screen will be split up into nine equal sections, and straight lines will help you to get straight intentional shots. You can even apply the rule of thirds while using gridlines. We’ll cover those in a bit more detail later on.

Gridlines are essential for composition and style. Artistic photographers will always leave these guides turned on!

3. Achieve Perfect Focus

Getting sharpness and perfect focus just right can be a struggle sometimes. We’ve all spent plenty of time trying to get the best focus when it comes to close-ups!  However, did you know that your iPhone can help you when it comes to really sharpening up? 

The iOS function is called AE/AF Lock: When you’ve got the shot, you’d like to take in the frame, simply tap to choose a focus point. For example, if you want the middle of a flower to look sharper than the rest, just tap and hold where it appears on your screen to enable the AE/AF Lock.

You can then take your photo with the shutter as normal. The results will show that the middle is sharper and that the surrounding elements are out of focus. This can take time to get right, as it may mean surroundings sometimes look blurry.  But it’s a great hack to keep in mind!

4. Need More Detail? Enable HDR

High contrast can be a problem if you want to get in plenty of detail.  It’s not always easy to get perfect shots where both light and dark are present, even with more advanced cameras!  However, your iPhone will be able to help you.

HDR, otherwise known as High Dynamic Range, is used when you need to balance out the exposure in your shots. You’ve likely seen this feature on the main screen of your camera app. HDR works by taking bright and dark shots before combining them all together.  This way, you get a balanced average.

To switch HDR on, tap the ‘HDR’ function on your app, or head to your iPhone’s camera settings.  You’ll be able to take HDR shots and retain normal photos so that you can easily compare.

5. Manually Adjust Your Photo Exposure

If you don’t like the idea of HDR, you can always adjust your brightness manually.  This is worth bearing in mind if you’re finding your images to be too dark or too bright.

What you’ll need to do might not be obvious right away. First, start by using the focus tapping trick listed above. Once you’ve got focus in place, you can then swipe up and down your screen to choose the level of brightness. Up for bright, down for dark. Simple!

This can take a bit of time and effort. However, many iPhone users may prefer taking control over exposure instead of using HDR. HDR is a great way to get started, but manual exposure control will help you perfect those shots.

6. Leading Lines Create Brilliant Depth

This is another general tip which applies to all modern photography, though iPhone users will find it useful.  The iPhone can take some beautiful shots, but many people complain that they can’t get a good sense of depth.  We’ve all taken shots that seem flat or uninspiring.  We’re not all perfect all the time!

Leading lines is a cool concept which takes advantage of the perspective in your photo. An example could be a pathway in the woods, a shoreline, or even a long wall.  Capturing leading lines instantly gives you a massive amount of depth and perspective!

To be able to use these to your advantage, you should have your subject leading to or from such a path. Alternatively, you could use the horizon as your primary focus. Play around with perspectives and leading lines to really add that extra dimension.

7. Think About Thirds

Ok, so let’s focus on composition again. Many photographers will tell you that composition means a lot, maybe even more so than focus or exposure. The concept of ‘thirds’ revolves around putting your subject or focus just away from the center of the shot. 

By using the gridlines function, which you can switch on in your camera settings, you can now compose your shot with the intersecting lines in mind. The rule of thirds states that to create the best compositions, a subject should be close to where these lines meet. This way, you can create an eye-catching balance between foreground and background, as well as subjects and other objects.

This can help you ‘anchor’ certain objects and create more of a scene for people to look at.  By using thirds as part of your shots, you can instantly move from flat, lifeless captures to interesting ones.  Images that use thirds look as if there has been lots of thought put into them! They’re often some of the most stunning!

8. Capturing Action? Use the Burst Function

This one is straightforward. Burst mode is a brilliant function that you can activate by pressing on your shutter instead of just tapping it.  This will take lots of different shots, around ten every second.  Therefore, it’s a great feature to use if you’re shooting action scenes or activity!

You can then take a look at the shots taken in burst mode and pick which you think look best. It’s a much easier way to capture movement than taking a video and pausing it. What a brilliant feature!

9. Live Photos for Live Memories

Finally, let’s look at the iPhone’s ‘live’ photo feature. Live photos are kind of a midway point between basic shots and videos. Live images are three-second snaps of an event where you can also include sound.

We love live photos as they give you a little more to look back on. It’s almost as if you’re watching a memory on-screen! While you can capture plenty of memories with video, live snaps are easy to load up and watch, and may well be the future of smart photography for many people.

To activate a live shot, tap the circular symbol towards the top of your camera app. Once it’s activated, it’ll turn yellow, and the next picture you take will include three seconds of movement and sound!

10. Use The Timer Wisely

iPhones also have a useful timer feature.  Using it means you can design your own selfie shots if you like!  Much like traditional camera timers, you can set your iPhone to count up to a set number of seconds before it will take a pic.

The iPhone allows you to take automatic photos with gaps of 3 and 10 seconds. That means you have short periods of time to get your shots ready.  All you need to do is select the ‘clock’ or ‘timer’ option towards the top of the camera app, and then select the delay you need.

You can then press the shutter button, as always, and your phone will start counting down.  Once the timer’s up, the camera will take ten photos in sequence.  That means you get to choose which of the shots you think are best to keep.  That is an excellent function if you’re taking group photos where people are likely to blink!

Bonus: Physical Shutter Buttons

Did you know that you can use the Volume Up button as a physical shutter button? It works the same way on the headphone remote. Just push the Volume Up button.