How to Take Better Pictures With Your iPhone

Photography seems to be increasing in popularity and I’m willing to bet that it has a lot to do with the high quality built-in cameras that iPhones have. Since most - or at least many - people have an iPhone, and since that iPhone is usually within arm’s reach, if not already in hand, snapping photos has become both as easy as pie and extremely trendy. With simple-to-use social media phone applications, like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, sharing photos has become a breeze, too. How do you compete with all the amateur-yet-pretty-darn-impressive iPhone-tographers out there? Follow these tips for making your off-the-cuff snapshots polished and inspired.

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1. Instead of trying to frame a shot and balance your iPhone with one hand, hold it as you would a real camera - with two hands to keep it steady, clicking the shutter with your right hand. Use the phone’s screen just as you would a shutter. This may seem obvious, but many people hold the phone straight out in front of them to take a picture, using just one hand and looking past the camera, not at the screen. You wouldn’t do that with a regular camera, so don’t do it with your iPhone, either.

2. Unlike professional cameras or even decent point-and-shoots, the zoom on an iPhone is pretty terrible, even if you only zoom in a little bit. Whenever you can, physically move closer to the object instead of using the iPhone’s zoom feature. Otherwise, your shots will be grainy and pixelated.

3. Don’t rely on just one shot of your subject - instead, take the same picture two or three times. This is simple to do because iPhones have such a small lag time (if any). Tiny changes in positioning and steadiness can effect clarity, composition and light. While you may think that you’ve just shot three identical photos, upon closer inspection you’re bound to notice subtle differences that play a large role in the photo’s quality.

4. Unless you’re trying to shoot the sun or the ocean, try to keep light behind you. Also, make sure that the subject of your photo is always well lit. With iPhone pictures, the lower the light, the worse the quality of the shot will be. Unfortunately, iPhones aren’t great for evening photos, unless you’re more interested in just capturing the moment than composing a superb photograph.

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5. Check out the “Settings” options on your iPhone and make sure that the camera is set to the best resolution and picture quality possible. 

6. iPhones don’t correct unsteadiness like a professional camera will, which means that it’s your responsibility to stay as still as you can while shooting. Most people can’t remain perfectly still (especially when they’re trying to!), so find something to learn your arm or hand on. Better yet, place the camera on a surface, if you can, to take the shot. Also, don’t move the second you click the shutter. Keep the camera still for another few seconds in case there’s a lag.

7. The beauty of shooting with an iPhone is that it’s pretty small, especially when compared to traditional cameras. You also don’t have to worry about a lens jutting out that you could ruin. Use this to your advantage by getting it into areas you otherwise couldn’t. Play with different angles, positions and places to get interesting photos.

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8. It’s common knowledge that you have to keep camera lenses free of dust and debris if you want quality photos, but people often skip this step when it comes to their iPhones. Your iPhone goes everywhere you do, which means it’s full of dust and fingerprints. Regularly clean the tiny lens with either plain water or even a tiny bit of Windex on a soft cloth.

9. Don’t toss out every photo you think is junk before you play with it a bit. Thanks to basic photo editing software, you can play with exposure, sharpness, color and contrast to turn a crummy photo into a gorgeous one. Sure, a bonafide photographer may wince at your tweaking, but it’s not always easy to capture a perfect photo with an iPhone. What you lack in skill or time you can make up in editing.

10. Keep the photo simple, with one main subject in the shot. Since iPhones aren’t great when it comes to quality, trying to focus on too many items or people is a recipe for a grainy shot. If you take a photo of one main person or thing, even if it needs some work, odds are you can make it look great with simple editing. If too much is cluttering a shot, you don’t have as good a chance of turning it into a masterpiece.