11 Tips for Taking Better iPhone Pictures with Co Hodges

As photographers, it becomes challenging to let go of the ideal of perfection. Why would we take a crappy picture with our iPhone when we can take beautiful pictures with our big cameras? Why would we photograph our daughter right now if she is wearing an awful outfit? Why would be document this moment if our house is filthy and embarrassing?

Or maybe you’re not a professional photographer. Maybe you’re just a person who wants to be able to document the beauty around you and make art from your everyday life. Whatever brought you to this blog post, stay. But please, leave your need for perfection at the door.

Too often, we get caught up in making sure our images are impressive and social media worthy that we forget why we started. Most of us started and continue to take pictures because we feel the need to capture the world around us, honestly and without reservation. We all have this innate, built-in desire to express ourselves creatively. We all want to remember how we FELT in that moment we snapped an image. So, rather than allowing ourselves to get caught up in perfect, let’s get wrapped up in the authentic instead. Let’s just document the beautiful moments unraveling around us, shall we?

Here are just a few simple tips to taking better iPhone pictures.

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Don’t have them look at the camera

I specialize in lifestyle and documentary photography.  Both mean different things, however I typically choose the latter to capture my own children.  What this means is I literally “document” their days.  I am an observer of their movement and interactions.  I see a moment happening and I photograph it, without manipulating or manufacturing anything.  When I first began on this journey, I would have an idea for an image that I saw on Pinterest or Facebook and would attempt to execute it with my then very young children.  I would constantly get frustrated with my inability to replicate the image and wasted time and energy on an image that had little meaning behind it.  It took a few years, but I learned how to see and then effectively document authentic connection and play.

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Turn auto-flash off

Flash can cheapen your images, as well as introduce red-eye and “blown-out” skin tones.  Whenever possible, turn your flash off.  Start noticing how the natural light (i.e. the sun) falls on your subjects.  Notice where their skin is brighter and where it is darker, based on their position to the light.  Utilizing natural light only will take your iPhone images to the next level.

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Don’t say cheese

Look in the mirror and say “cheese”.  Notice how it creates a forced, unnatural smile.  Yeah, you don’t want that.  Your kids are growing every second, and trust me, you want their natural smiles and laughter captured.  So try ditching the “cheesy” smiles.

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Talk to them

So, what can you do instead of “say cheese”?  Talk to them.  Ask them about their day, what their favorite color is this week, what they want to be for Halloween this year….snap away while talking to them. Genuine engagement with your children will trump forcing them to smile at the camera any day.

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Tap on their faces to focus

This tip is simple, but you might not already know this.  To get proper focus on your subjects, simply tap on the screen right over their faces.  Snap a few in a row quickly and see if you need to tap again to regain focus.


Don’t ditch a blurry image

Moments often happen quickly, so don’t beat yourself up for not nailing focus each time.  At the end of the day, if an image sparks a memory or makes you feel deeply, keep it!  Don’t toss an image because it isn’t “perfect”

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Consider the background

I am always looking for simplicity for images.  If a background is too busy, the subject is often lost in it.  I have trained my eye to notice simple backgrounds, so that my subject can literally “pop” right off of the screen.  Begin to notice where your eye, as a viewer, goes when looking at certain images.  

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Don’t be afraid to get close

Have you noticed that you typically shoot pictures at the same distance from your subject? Yeah, that’s pretty normal, esp when you are first starting out.  Don’t be afraid to move in close to your subject.  Even with an iphone, you can capture the tiny, sweet features of your children, such as their eyelashes or lips.

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Use the sun to your advantage

You may have heard to always keep the sun behind your subject.  Well, I disagree.  Using the sun to illuminate a face is one of my favorite things to do with the iphone.  Since are learning to document your kids without them staring into your camera, you don’t have to worry about the dreaded sun-squint.  Instead use the sun to your advantage.

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Try an editing app like VSCO or Vintage Lab

These apps are free, easy to use and super fun!  Try downloading them and trying them out today!

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Be patient

This last tip is key.  Be patient with yourself as you learn and be patient with your family as you learn to document them.  Remember this is a beautiful journey and there is no need to rush.  Enjoy it.

Sarah DriscollComment