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10 Quick iPhone Photography Tips

A Guest Post by Sarah from a beach cottage.

Before I got my iPhone I had a Nokia phone with a pretty good camera on it… apparently… but I never really used it much because it had such a long lag on it from clicking the shutter to the picture making it to the phone that it irritated the willies out of me… talk about a way to make you not inspired to shoot with a phone!

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Since I moved into the world of Apple though, a whole new world of photography opened up to me… my photos in the beginning with it were pretty dire… now I am right in the swing of it and loving the results.

First of all the best thing about phone photos over fancy DSLR shots is quite purely and simply, ease, accessibility and weight. In my world with 3 kiddos and generally being busy a lot of the time, I don’t have time, although I must say I certainly have the inclination, to get out my big camera, start fiddling around with what lens to use, start playing around with the settings, yadda, yadda, yadda… it’s heavy and bulky and means that I have to have an ugly camera bag with me.

Phone cameras change all that – and having that little baby in my pocket has taken me on another journey with photography, one I certainly did not see coming or expect and one I am enjoying immensely.

Phone photography for me means freedom and capturing moments with my family and things about Australia that I am inspired by that otherwise I would miss.

It was tricky at first to get a good shot though.

Here’s what I have learnt over the last few months:

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The Beach Cottage Top 10 Tips to Phone Photos 


1. Hold the phone like you would a camera

When I first got my iPhone and discovered the camera I was holding it with just one hand and almost gliding it around… now I hold the ‘camera’ in two hands and with my right hand I ‘click’ the shutter as you would a regular camera…

I also imagine my camera screen as the viewfinder on my big camera – when I first started iPhoneology I was holding the phone out in front of me at a ridiculous angle and doing some strange straight-armed, head back movement, robot style. Now I hold the phone in front of me with both hands and ‘look’ through the screen to what I am taking a photo of as I would with the other camera rather than kinda looking past the phone… I hope that makes sense?

2. Don’t zoom in with the zoom on the camera, zoom in with your feet

If you want to take something close up actually walk up to it, get close and click. Mmy iPhone loses heaps of quality even with a tiny bit of zooming and it becomes really grainy and pizelated. So I never move the zoom in. Moving from a telephoto lens on a Canon 50D to no zoom on a phone is a big difference and has been great for teaching me about light and my composition comfort zone has been seriously jolted… ahem, still learning here!

3. Shoot the same thing a few times

The great thing about digital photography is it allows for a lot of attempts and a lot of mistakes. Add to that benefit, the speed and ease of a camera phone and you have the opportunity to take a few shots so one of them will be good. You can just take multiple shots of the same thing and one of them will be vastly better than the others.

I love shooting at the beach with my phone, as you might have gathered and I will sit, with a coffee or on a walk and take a bundle of shots, upload ‘em when I get home and poof delete them right off. Too easy!

But don’t delete those shots you think are no good when you are out and about because often when you get home the things you think looked rubbish on your phone screen actually turn into interesting things on your computer monitor. The first time I got sun flare on my iPhone I was on the ferry to the city and shooting like mad with my iPhone. Checking the images I was a bit disappointed on the quality – they looked really over-exposed, too bright and patchy. When I got them uploaded to the computer later I realised that the elusive fingers of God were all over my pictures.


4. Light

Light with camera phones is important – the lower the light the more grainy and bad quality it becomes – unless you are taking photos of the sun and the sea  keep the light behind you and your subject well lit.

But don’t lose those dark and night time opportunities. Shoot with your phone at night and dusk and see what it produces. I am doing this all the time lately and learning a lot along the way. I love shooting the sky at night – results have been a real mixed bag but are inspiring me to get out there with my real camera and have a go like a big girl.

5. Check out the resolution and picture quality settings – and set them on high

6. Keep the camera as still as you can because the jitters will make your picture blurred. To keep it still look for something to lean your arm/hand/camera on – this makes a big difference to camera jitters and my phone photos. Keep your hand there for a second after you ‘click’ too just to make sure, in case your phone has a big shutter lag.

7. Move around and get in different positions

The thing I love about my phone is that it is small and easy and you can get get down low and dirty with it or you can point it up and high really easily. Tou can move right on in to a shell or a flower and you can get it into awkward places and positions that a regular camera it would be more tricky with. So move it in bundles of different angles to see what you get – it doesn’t cost a penny.

Also move the angle of the phone as you take the pictur – I have experimented with this a lot with the horizon and the sea… haven’t posted any of the images yet ‘cos it actually looks like I was drunk when I took the photos, ahem maybe there was the odd Limoncello involved in some of them actually… but the shots are really interesting in my own personal photo-taking journey.

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8. Clean the lens… duh!


I didn’t do this for ages and I don’t do it enough now still. My phone is in my bag, in my pocket, floating about in the car and ultimately has grubby little kiddo fingers all over tit so cleaning it makes a difference to the resulting shot.

9.  Process!

All of my phone pictures are processed. I think that is the beauty of phonology, you have the ability to whip that baby out and capture something amazing you see, even though the quality and look might not be what you wanted. Then wham bam thank you mam, technology and a lil bit of foofing gives you a pretty nice shot…

I usually use Windows Live to tweak the contrast, light and saturation etc. It’s normally the light that makes the big difference in shots. I turn the highlights and brightness and often exposure right up. A real photographer would probably shudder at my processing, but the look I like, and hey that’s who I’m doing this for, is overly bright photos.

I also nearly always turn the temperature down. I like my photos on the err of blue and you would never have guessed but I like ‘em pretty white too. You can also do this with an app if you have an iPhone. Qhen I first got mine I went on a serious iPhone frenzy and got a lot of phone camera apps but really none have them have honestly floated my boat that much. Nowadays I just take the photo with the regular phone camera and do the foofing later.

There are a few apps for processing too but I find it fiddly and too small to try and see what’s going on on the small screen of my phone, I much prefer getting them uploaded and doing it on the big screen.

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10. Clutter

Don’t have too much going on in your photo. One of the reasons, in my humble little opinion, some of my phone photos are still fairly good even though they are pretty grainy and not even in the same league in sharpness and quality as my DSLR camera shots is that there is not too much going on in the photos. This allows you to get away with a lot.

Keeping one main subject and a scene where you want all/most of it in focus are best. As you can see in the photo above, the quality is average to poor and pretty grainy (when viewed at full size) but hey I LOVE the pink sunflare, I love the clouds, I love the sea and baby I captured it… bingo… and that’s what photography is all about for me!
That’s how I take photos with my iPhone, hope these ten tips for phone photography might help you too… main thing though… just shoot ‘em up baby!

Sarah is a busy mum blogging from the beaches of Sydney about her sea-change from the grey skies of London to Australia, she logs the renovation of an old cottage and life by the sea, since picking up an old Powershot that had seen better days when she first started her blog, she began on an unexpected journey with, and new found love for, photography…slowly moving up the camera ranks, she replaced the Powershot with a Canon G10 and soon moved onto a Canon 50d…and nowadays also uses her iPhone when she’s down the beach to capture it all….

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