5 Tips to Take Awesome iPhone Photos

When I first started blogging, I carried around my phone and took AWFUL pictures of my food. I don’t know why anyone stuck around, but they did. If you’ve been reading since the beginning, thank you and GOD BLESS for nearly five years of putting up with me.

As I started reading more and more blogs and hanging out with more bloggers, I stepped up my game a bit and usually carried around a point-and-shoot, which I used every single day and took slightly more clear, if still not great pictures.


Eventually, I noticed lots of my blogger friends were using D-SLRs, and I decided to dust mine off. I’d gotten it for Christmas the year I moved to NYC, because I didn’t yet have a ton of friends and thought that photography would be a great hobby to pick up.

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I took a photography class with Ashley before she went and deserted me for the other side of the pond.

But these days, I rarely carry a camera around with me, even though I love my little S90. I love Instagram and being able to share photos instantly.

They say that the best camera you have is the one that you have with you, and I obviously always have my iPhone on me. Also, I now run my work Instagram, and, well, I have some serious competition and inspiration re:photography.

So last week, Emily took an iPhone-ography class. Yes, that’s a thing. I’d seen Juliette taking a similar class recently, and though it sounded like a great idea. I googled and Photo Manhattan was the first one i found.

For New Yorkers, I will give you the quick review before sharing the tips I learned: not worth it. I did learn some good tips at the end, but I also sat through a lot of very general how to use my iPhone camera, how to use the Photo Stream (which I don’t really care about) and that you should print out more of your photos to make them tangible.


But I did learn a few helpful tips that might help you.

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1. If there is something you’d like the lens to focus on, tap the screen. The little square comes up, and you can move it to where you’d like it to expose for, and it will do so.

2. YOU CAN USE THE VOLUME BUTTONS as shutters. I never knew this one, and it makes it much easier to take a photo.

3. Turn on the gridlines (Settings > Camera), and use the rule of thirds for more visually interesting photos. Don’t just center your subject. Put it one of the thirds lines to create a more dynamic photo.

4. Edit, edit, edit. Snapseed is a great app for your phone. I’ve been using this for a few weeks and am trying to learn the ins and outs, but even on a basic level, it does some decent editing.

5. HDR. Read more about it here, but the short version: it takes three images of different light ranges and compresses ’em all together. In many situations, it can make your photos look better, but it can also make them appear a bit flatter.

Do you have any tips to take great iPhone photos?

17 comments on “5 Tips to Take Awesome iPhone Photos

  1. Nina

    Great tips! I can’t believe I never knew you could use the volume buttons as shutters! My selfies will be so much better now haha. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ashley

    Oh my gosh I remember that class! That picture was the only one we both loved. So many memories! Okay I’ll just sit here and cry across the pond because I miss you MORE! It really doesn’t feel like my 30th birthday with you not here. πŸ™

    Oh and good tips! I will check out snapseed! πŸ™‚

  3. Cathryn

    Thanks for the fantastic tip about using your volume buttons to take photos. Genius move, I would NEVER have guessed.

    Any tips about how to get the camera to focus when zooming in?? I tried the whole ‘little square’ thing but it always blurs when I zoom in at all. So frustrating.

    1. Theodora Post author

      Ooh! I should have included that. So, the instructor talked about zoom in the class. Without getting too technical, you shouldn’t zoom on the phone – you should just crop for whatever you want to see more of instead, because zooming on the phone will just make it blurrier. The square, in my understanding, is more for exposure.

  4. Elizabeth

    THANK YOU! My D-SLR is broken and I need a new one, but can’t really afford it right now, so I’m back to iPhone pictures for now. I made some soup the other day, took pictures for my blog, and some of them were SO bad I couldn’t even look at them.

  5. Valerie

    HDR is magical. If you’re trying to take a picture of something that’s dark and you don’t want to use your flash (because flash = the worst), use HDR and tap on the darkest spot in the photo. Sometimes this tactic backfires and everything goes pixelated, but most of the time it works out pretty well.

  6. Ashley

    Since I live in the stone ages and am the only person, let alone blogger, who doesn’t have a smart phone, I take crappy pictures, yup. BUT an Iphone is on my Christmas list…now I just need to figure out which model to get!

  7. MegG

    While I’ve always enjoyed photography, once I got into television and pre-production versus actually shooting I forgot/stopped caring about a lot of my old photography skills! I LOVE using my iPhone with instagram and for editing snapseed and VSCO Cam. The place I’m working now (creativeLIVE) is a great (and free, if you catch us live!) resource to learn about photography! We have 2 iPhoneography courses in our catalog. My best tip is to be patient and if you want to get close to something with your iPhone be willing to move around it and get the right light on it. A cleaner shot is almost always a better shot (don’t have too much going on in the frame all at once).


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