iPhone Photography 101: How to Take Better Shots
The iPhone has come a long way in terms of photography, some professionals even prefer it to their DSLR for certain situations and amazing shots have been taken with Apple’s smartphones. Some of the best iPhoneography even made it to “billboard exhibitions” , which were organized by Apple. Most of us have adopted the iPhone as a worthy replacement for compact cameras and the like, while some of the snarkier amateur photographers stick to their trusty old hardware with remarkably similar abilities, but choose to look down upon iPhone photographers. At the end of the day, it is the photographer who makes an image count, not his equipment. Hence the need for a comprehensive iPhone photography 101 guide, which you can study below and improve your skills. After reading our top 10 tricks on how to take better iPhone photos, you’ll be up to speed in no time. Well, at least after a little bit of practice.
10 Tricks for better iPhone photos
1. The grid is your friend
Using a composition grid is a technique that photographers have borrowed from classical artists. Dividing your image into thirds helps to establish a sense of order and visual interest, don’t just shoot a subject head-on. Go to your “Settings” app, tap “Photos & Camera” and enable the “Grid” option. Then align a person’s face or a point of interest according to those lines, rather than placing the subject in the center. See how that affects the amount of visual interest in your image?
2. Pick one object only
Try to pick a major focus of your shot, tap it on the screen to make sure it is in focus and frame it using the rest of the scene. Too many subjects in a single shot tend to clutter the end product, making it less interesting in the long run. Focus on doing one thing really well with your shot and let the rest work as a supporting structure.
3. Use the negative space
Negative space is everything that isn’t an object or your subject. Say you have a chair with a backrest that consists of an array of wooden bars. Everything in between is negative space. Negative space can also be everything around the contour of a person that isn’t attributed to a concrete shape. Using the sky, vast planes or walls to instill a specific emotion or impression is a great tool, so don’t be afraid to use it.
4. It’s all about perspective
Amateur photographers tend to focus on shooting everything from their own eye level. This makes for a boring, monotonous and not exactly special photograph. Try moving as close to the ground as you can, or much higher up than you usually would. Tilt your iPhone to product an angled perspective. Attempt to boldly go where no-one else has gone before in terms of the positioning of your camera.
5. Playing with reflections
Water, sunglasses, glass, metal surfaces and mirrors can produce all sorts of interesting effects when used cleverly. Try to incorporate reflections into your shots in a mindful way, taking note of what exactly it is the viewer will see.
6. Leading lines
Creating artistic imagery with your iPhone entails that you will lead the viewer through the shot. Not by being present and explaining your intentions, of course. The best way to lead the gaze of the viewer is to implement so-called “leading lines”. Use the environment and the objects in your shot to divide the visible space into linear shapes that span across the frame, be it diagonally, vertically or horizontally. Think about what you want to accomplish with a shot and execute your concept by assembling the necessary pieces through composition.
7. Symmetrical shapes and compositions
Aside from the rule of thirds detailed in the first hint, we can also take advantage of symmetry to produce aesthetically pleasing photos. Nature uses plenty of symmetry and the amount of symmetry in a human face is a leading marker of attractiveness. Architecture is a great subject for studying symmetry, try taking images that are focused on visual balance in an interesting building.
8. Don’t zoom!
Zooming with a DSLR camera is usually not an issue, unless you are using a prime lens with a fixed focal length. Zooming with traditional cameras is typically achieved through optical means, that is through shifting lenses. Digital zoom, as in the iPhone, is inferior in terms of the image quality and can only be achieved by sacrificing some of the fidelity of the photograph. Hence we recommend moving around and doing the leg work when shooting with an iPhone.
9. It’s in the details
Try to capture tiny details, the very essence of a surface. Move as close as you can get without having your iPhone lose focus. The veins on a leaf are just as interesting as the ridges in the wooden handle of an old, hand-forged knife. Insect life is another great area that patiently awaits your photographic exploration. The iPhone can handle macro shots without additional equipment, at least up to a certain point. Take advantage of this fact!
10. Staging feels awkward
When taking pictures of social situations, everyday life and people in general, you should attempt to stay under cover, so to speak. Don’t make everybody too aware of the photos that are being taken and take a step back. Staged photos are boring and predictable, while the magic of the moment can only be captured when people are focused on their actual activities, instead of how they will look in your iPhoneography.
Keep it simple, try to maintain a clean and well-composed shot and don’t be afraid to experiment. We hope that you enjoyed this little guide of ours and that you are now motivated to apply the newly learned techniques in your projects.