Behind the Big Green Door: How to Take Bright & Beautiful iPhone Photos
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How to Take Bright & Beautiful iPhone Photos

8:43:00 PM

One of the most common questions I have received since becoming a blogger is, "What type of camera do you use?" ...the truth is that I do not own a camera. About 98% of my photography is taken from my trusty iPhone. B recently purchased a camera for himself which I have used a little, but I feel more comfortable with my iPhone. Over the years I have learned what works and doesn't work when taking iPhone pics.

This is an exhaustive list of my process and I hope it helps you!

STEP 1: CLEAN YOUR LENS
That's right, clean your iPhone lens. Think about all the dust, grit and grime that can get on your lens from tossing your phone in your purse or pockets. If you notice your photos are grainy and cloudy BEFORE snapping your shot a dirty lens is more than likely the culprit

STEP 2: FIND THE LIGHT
Lighting is super important when taking iPhone pics. I cannot stress how important this is.. it's super important! If at home and you want to take a flatlay picture find a window to take your pics nearby. Look at the difference in the pictures below. The first was taken in my kitchen that doesn't get much natural light.


On the second picture I moved the tray over to a window and snapped a photo. It made a huge difference in the colors


Now you don't want that bright harsh mid-day light...that light isn't great for pictures. You should take your pictures in the beginning or end of the day. If you like cool-toned photos (blueish-tinted) snap your pics in the morning and for warm-toned (yellow and orange tinted) photos take your pics close to sunset.

The main thing to remember is that natural light is king. Incandescent light is the enemy.

STEP 3: ADOPT PHOTOGRAPHER'S TECHNIQUES
RULE OF THIRDS
When taking photos on an iPhone you will notice the grid with 9 squares. I like to use this grid when deciding where I want the object to be in the photo. I like to playing around with putting my focus object on one of the points where the bottom horizontal and vertical lines cross. This is known as the rule of thirds. I'm not an expert on this so I'll let Wikipedia teach you the full on course.


Even if you don't initially take your photo like this, you can always crop your pictures to give this effect. I edited this photo I took of my friend at sunset.

Look at the before:


After cropping this photo to meet the rule of thirds techniques the picture looks way more interesting.


Do note, even with this tip, I do love a centered focused picture. This is just something to try when wanting to add some interest to your photos.

LEADING LINES
This is a technique where lines are used to draw the viewer's eye to the main focus of a photo. I find this is easier to do when out and about as oppose to doing interior photography. In this photo, that my friend took of me from her iPhone, we are using the lines of the side walk to draw your eye up to where I am standing.


Leading lines composition really make for beautiful and interesting pictures. Try this the next time you are out and about.

STEP 4: BE AWARE OF THE BACKGROUND
There's nothing worst than seeing a potentially pretty photo that only failed because of the background. Remove all items from your lens' view that clash with your photo. If there is something that you cannot remove, consider using a blur for the background.

STEP 5: USE THE FOCUS FEATURE
Your iPhone will auto focus for you on the image it thinks you are trying to capture. However, there may be times where you want to focus on a background image. To change the focus simply tap on the screen where you want the camera to focus. Here you can see I am taking the same picture but the focus is different based on me tapping the screen in different areas.

Here I tapped on the sky


and here I tapped on my knee



Holding my phone in the same location but tapping on different focus areas created two totally different pictures.

STEP 6: USE THE BURST
The burst feature is great to use when you have a moving object such as a kid or when taking pictures outside on a windy day. Simply hold down the shutter button when taking your pictures. Keep in mind this option takes about 10 pictures a second, so the longer your hold the button the more pictures will have. Afterwards go back through your photos and find your best shot.


On this burst shot, you can see our best photo is the last one, bottom right corner.

STEP 6: HOLD STEADY


Shaky hands will produce terrible pictures. Even if you move a little when taking a picture on an iPhone the photo will come out blurry. When taking your pictures hold still, even after you have snapped your photo hold still for another 2-3 seconds. I noticed when I move right after taking a photo it isn't as clear as when I remain steady for a few seconds.

STEP 7: EDIT YOUR PHOTO
I listed editting last because the goal is to take a good picture BEFORE needing to edit.

BRIGHTEN & CONTRAST
If you follow the 6 steps above your photo will need minimal editing. The main editing functions I use on every photo is brightening and contrast. The amount of contrast and brightening that I use depends on the look I am going for, but I always make sure that my contrast is greater than my brightening.

If you want a photo full of color, turn up the contrast higher. I mostly post my photos to Instagram and can do all the editing in the app, but I wanted to kick it up a notch so I downloaded VSCO. I prefer their contrast better than Instagram.

STRAIGHTEN
Most of the photos I take require some straightening. Using the grid function I mentioned earlier I find a straight edge in my photo to line up with the grid. Also, sometimes my images will look slightly curved or leaning to the left..not sure if it's because I'm a lefty or not.


I will use the horizontal or vertical straightening (available in Instagram or most photo editing apps) to straighten out my photo. As you can see here I had to use quite a bit of horizontal adjusting.


Notice on the picture on the top, the edge of the fireplace is crooked (slanting downwards) and also the fireplace on the left side looks distorted. I correct this by adjusting the horizontal aspect and straightened the edge of the fireplace with the grid. I layer these updates on top of the brightening and contrast.

CROP
The crop feature is your friend. I snapped some pictures while B did our daughter's birthday photoshoot. She wanted to wear her favorite boots which were pretty scuffed up. It was her birthday so we figured we would just let her wear them. That's where the handy crop comes in. I cropped out the toes of her boots.


of course I did my brightening/contrast and straightening and the picutre was perfect.

Read: 8 Ways to Make your Child's Photo Shoot a Success

STEP 8: POST AND ENJOY
The last thing to do is post your photo!

Check out the total transformation of one iPhone photo that I shared on my Instgram. Here I wanted the focus of my photo to be this flowers while still showing a little background. Also I wanted to hide the damage to my dining room table as much as I could.

I started by placing my floral arrangement in an area that had tons of natural light.


Next I boosted the contrast to bring out the pretty pink color of the roses.


Then I adjusted the horizontal perspective and straaightened up the photo.



Then to get rid of the paper I didnt want to show in the background I cropped my photo on the left side and on the bottom a bit.


Using the tilt shift function I blurred the background so the flowers in the foreground would pop.


..and lastly I brightened my photo.



Take a look at the before and after


I hope these tips have helped you. Share with me on Instagram, FB, or Twitter the photos you have taken using my suggestions through the hashtag. #BBGDTipsWork

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15 Readers Chatting

  1. Such a great post Alaya, I don't take any photos with my crappy phone, but many of these tips I use with my camera and I agree that they definitely apply as well with a cell phone.

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    1. Thanks Carli! Now a crappy phone I can't help with lol!

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  2. Oooooh, right on time, Alaya! Great tips! I have an android, but they have the same options. I'm going to try your steps out!

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    1. Yaay! Great Whitney! I would love to hear if they work for you!

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  3. Great tips. My iphone pics always look terrible though. I try a few but always end up using my good camera.

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    1. Hey Andrea! Hopefully these tips will help you!

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  4. Great tips Alaya !!! I always love your photos you take !! Looks just like they were taken with a fancy camera

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    1. Thank you Nicole!! I'm working on getting even better! thank you!

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  5. Alaya these are awesome tips. I have an Iphone and will definitely be implementing these tips. Thanks for taking the time to put this awesome post together!

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    1. Thanks Erin! I hope these help you!!

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  6. Great tips Alaya! I was surprised when you first told me you take your blog pictures with an iphone. Your photos are always so bright and vibrant that I see why so many mistake them for camera shots. I don't have an iphone but I will try your tips with my android.

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  8. I just upgraded to an IPhone for this very reason, to use for my blog and instagram photos. These are some great tips for me to use since I'm normally lost taking pictures. Thanks for this post!

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    1. OH GREAT! I hope this post help you!! I love taking photos with my iPhone!

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