10 iPhone Photography Tips For Taking Oustanding Photos

iPhone photography is a huge topic and it could take you months if not years to master all the different shooting and editing techniques. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to wait for years – you want to start taking better photos today. In this article I’m sharing 10 quick and easy techniques that you can start using today to significantly improve your iPhone photos.

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1. Keep Your Photos Simple

Steve Jobs used to say, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and he was clearly onto something. New photographers often overcomplicate their photos by having too much going on in the frame, which distracts the viewer and makes it much harder to create a harmonious composition.

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One interesting subject is all you really need to create a memorable photo, and it’s easy to get the composition right when your photo has only one subject. Don’t worry if the majority of your photo is filled with empty space since that will only make your subject stand out more.

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Another reason to choose simple compositions is the size of the medium. If you share your iPhone photos on Instagram or a similar photo sharing network, people will view your photos on the tiny screen of their phone, and much of the detail you have in your photos will be lost to the viewer. Keep your iPhone photos simple and your audience will enjoy them.

2. Shoot From A Low Angle

The majority of iPhone photos are shot from the chest height of an adult because that’s the most convenient way to take a photo, but it’s not necessarily the best way. You can easily improve your photos by finding a more interesting angle, and often the best way to do that is to simply shoot from a lower perspective.

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Shooting from a low angle makes people and other subjects more interesting simply because we’re not used to looking at them from that perspective. Besides, it allows you to show your subject with nothing but the sky in the background, which is great for removing unwanted distractions and making your subject stand out.

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Another benefit of taking photos from a low angle is that you can show interesting details in the foreground that would be lost otherwise. Get down on your knees if you have to as this simple trick can really make a huge difference!

3. Show Depth In Your Photos

One of the common iPhone photography mistakes is taking flat photos that don’t show any depth and where all the subjects are located on the same plane. However, most photos – and especially landscape photos – look better if they have subjects on multiple planes.

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It’s tempting to only include the background in landscape photos, but the photo above is made a lot more interesting by showing trees and the orange sand in the foreground, the large orange rock in the middle ground and the forests in the background.

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In this photo the small road takes up the entire foreground and extends far into the background, which draws the viewer through the scene and makes the photo more engaging.

4. Align Your Subjects Diagonally

The two main subjects in the photo above are the house in the top right and the road at the bottom left. It’s not an accident that these subjects are placed diagonally from each other. By aligning the important subjects diagonally you can make your photos more balanced and harmonious.

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The large orange rock is such a strong subject that it would take all our attention if it wasn’t for the small rock at the bottom left. By aligning the subjects diagonally, I could balance the photo and make the composition more harmonious. Whenever you have multiple subjects in your scene, align them diagonally to create a balanced composition.

5. Shoot From The Level Of Your Subject

The #1 mistake people make when taking photos of children and pets is shooting from the height of a standing adult. This creates a bird’s-eye-view and makes your subject disappear in the background.

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If you want your child or pet to stand out in the photo, you have to get down to their height. And don’t be afraid to get close.

6. Include Shadows In Your Composition

People often get so focused on photography subjects that they don’t even pay attention to the shadows. But when the sun is low, the shadows can often be even more interesting than the actual subjects of your photos, so try to include them in your composition whenever possible.

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7. Take Silhouette Photos

Silhouetting is one of the most interesting iPhone photography techniques, and it’s much easier than you think. The only thing you really need to take silhouettes with your iPhone is to shoot against the source of light and your iPhone will take care of the rest.

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In this photo I’m standing in the shadow of the chimney, so the sun is located directly behind it. Since I’m shooting against the source of light, all the subjects in this photo are automatically turned into silhouettes.

Silhouetting works best when the sun is low above the horizon near sunset or sunrise. Just find a subject with an interesting outline (such as a person), make sure the light is coming from behind your subject, and take a silhouette photo!

If the silhouette doesn’t appear dark enough, you can reduce the exposure levels to make the image darker. To do this, simply swipe down on the screen after you’ve tapped to set focus.

8. Photograph Reflections

Reflections are easy to miss in real life but nearly impossible to ignore in photos. While you can find reflections on many different surfaces including glass, shiny cars and ice, water is probably the best surface for reflection photography.

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The coolest thing about water reflections is their ability to distort the reflection in waves. If you want to emphasize such distortions, place your iPhone just an inch above the water, which is what I did in the photo above.

If there are no waves, you can always create them yourself by moving your hand through the water, which is what I did in the following photo.

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You don’t just want to photograph the reflection alone – try to combine it with non-reflected subjects. If your photo only shows the reflection, it won’t really stand out. 

Once you start paying attention, you’ll notice that reflections are everywhere – and they look great in photos!

9. Use Symmetry

The reflection photos above also use symmetry, which is another great photography trick. If you look at any of the reflection photos in this article, you’ll notice that the reflected and non-reflected parts are divided exactly in half, which looks great for symmetrical reflections. But of course there are other ways you can use symmetry in your photos.

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Look out for symmetrical scenes and subjects, and don’t be afraid to place them in the middle of the photo to really make the symmetry obvious.

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Even though the basic composition guidelines such as the rule of thirds don’t suggest placing your subjects symmetrically in the center, you can’t argue with the dramatic perfectionist look you can create with symmetry.

10. Edit With VSCO Presets

While entire books have been written about the topic of photo editing, you don’t need to overcomplicate things to create amazing photos with your iPhone. The easiest way to apply powerful but subtle artistic effects to your photos is to use the preset filters in the VSCO app.

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Just open the VSCO app, load the photo and tap on the editing icon, which will automatically take you to the presets. There you can try out all the different presets and change their strength if needed. You can also download more presets, both paid and free, from the store inside the app (I recommend getting the largest preset pack).

VSCO presets allow you to apply beautiful but subtle artistic effects in seconds, while also making it hard for you to over-edit your photos. This makes VSCO my favorite app for one-tap photo editing, and you don’t need any technical knowledge to do amazing edits with VSCO presets.

11. Apply What You Just Learned

I know that a list of 10 photography tips may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to get it all right. In fact, there’s no way you could possibly use all these tips in one photo or even in one day of photography. 

But if you pick just one of these 10 tips – the one that speaks to you the most – and apply it the next time you take photos with your iPhone, I know you’ll be very happy with the results… at which point you should come back, pick another tip and apply it as well. Good luck!

7 Little-Known iPhone Photography Tricks

I created a free video revealing 7 little-known tricks for taking incredible iPhone photos that everyone adores. In this video you’re going to get practical tips for applying the things you learned in this article.iPhone-photography-tricks

If you also want to take incredible photos with your iPhone, please join 138,712 subscribers who receive our free iPhone photography email tips that you won’t find anywhere on this website.

  • @retrosquares

    Gosh your tips are brilliant! thank you and keep it up.

  • Great tips. I need to play around a bit more with Symmetry and reflections more. Thanks for the tips, keep up the good work

  • GL_R

    Thanks for the tips.

  • Jeffrey A Thomas

    As always Emil, good work 🙂

  • fayemcg .

    Thanks, Emil. Great tips. I downloaded VSCOCam some time ago at your suggestion and it is now one of my favorite editing apps.

  • Awesome tips once again…thank you Emil

  • Zach Antonick

    Excellent tips. I certainly try to adhere to the “simplicity” school of thought.

  • J Riley

    I just started playing around with reflections (see my photo) and I completely agree they make great photos! But regarding VSCO, I used to use it but am starting to use Lightboxr more. I love their shuffle button that applies a unique filter/effect with one tap.

    • Here you want to increase contrast to make the reflection stand out more, and something tells me this would look great in B&W.

    • Cool shot. It looks interesting.

  • Alaa

    Great tips! Some of them I applied without knowing this will make my pics better. Passion of photography motivates us to try creative ways in shooting. 😉 Your post give me more ideas and techniques I didn’t use before. Thanks Emil!

  • Fadhil Husin

    Great tips, Emily. VSCO cam is now my favourite photo apps along with snapseed.

  • Gamblor77

    12. Buy a good phone…

  • yvette cals

    thank you so much! the reflections tips made my day but i have to learn working with symmetry
    it’s so against my feelings

  • Mari

    The reflection tip was great as well as lower angles great share

  • Messi

    Sir i need more tips

  • Debbie Langer Borato

    Emil, I have a question about Instagram. Each time I bring a photo into Instagram, the crop tool comes up first. This if frustrating because some images I have already cropped and there is no way to move to the next tool. How do I by pass the crop tool in instagram editing?

    • Hi Debbie, is there not a Next option at the top right of the screen?

    • Debbie Langer Borato

      Yes there is, however, the crop is applied when going to the next option.

    • Are you trying to upload rectangular or square photos Debbie?

    • Debbie Langer Borato

      Phone images that are original size, rectanglular I suspect

    • If you’re trying to upload rectangular photos that will be what the problem is Debbie. The first screen is the crop option because you can only upload square images to Instagram, and therefore if your photo is rectangular it has to crop the edges to create a square photo.

      You can use a third-party app to create a square canvas template that you can then insert your rectangular photo onto before uploading it to Instagram – check out our tutorial on how to do this: http://iphonephotographyschool.com/not-crop-instagram/

      Hope that helps 🙂

    • Debbie Langer Borato

      Thank you so much, it most certainly does.

    • Glad we could be of help Debbie 🙂

    • Debbie Langer Borato

      It doenst matter if I crop in another app or original. Once I go into instagram edit with my photo, the first screen that comes up is crop, with the crop lines in place. I cant do a work around. It just simply wont go to the next tool without my cropping or the app cropping. Its frustrating.

  • Ginger Harrington

    What a great post. Many of these I do. Reflections are my favorite, but I’m so excited to get some more great ideas.

  • Sam Tampion

    Hey guys I went to download the app but I only have iOS 7 and the app requires iOS 8, any recommendations for lower IPhones?

  • Rebecca Morris

    Great tips thanks! Your photos are so beautiful and clear – how do you avoid getting grainy photos? It seems whenever I have a clear pic and then use VSCO and upload to Facebook, it ends up quite grainy.

    Keep up the great posts!

  • satya dadhich

    i have just got iphone 4s but whenever i take photos through this and zoom it picture get blured. any suggestion

  • Jhonny Dee

    thanks for this ideas

  • Joseph

    These guidelines are very helpful. I’m trying to begin shooting pictures on the side for some extra money and I feel these tips will work great thanks a lot. Just gave me some enormous ideas for taking pictures.

    John@Esignatures

    • Glad you hear you found these tips useful Joseph 🙂

  • V K Mahajan

    I Differ with your Tips. One Generally takes photographs where relations and Friends get highlighted and become memories for ever. The general photographs you have talked about are southings which one takes rarely. I feel you might change your approach and show how to take individual and groups photographs shooing all the facial contours both in daylight, falling light and with flash.

  • Melanywilson

    I’m pretty new to iPhone photography and excited to try out all your tips.

    Thomas@Digital signature

  • Rahul Sharma

    Hey I have just started my photography account on Instagram and it’s not really going that well. Do you have any ideas on how I can improve it? My account is @starmaphotgraphy

  • Gagan Gaggi

    i click this pic under ur guidences , using camera grid , according to me this is better, this is my first pic under ur guides , Thanks ,, plzz tell me how is this,

  • Jessosceles

    I found with my iPhone 4, touching the light part in pictures makes it darker, and doing silhouettes with that is really effective. This is a simple one. Good tips in this blog

    • That’s exactly the right thing to do with the iPhone 4 to create a silhouette 🙂 Glad to hear you enjoy our tutorials and tips!

  • Laine Rudolfa

    I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the tips, Philip! 🙂

  • Megan Proffitt

    I specifically do equine photographs usually of horses jumping. Are there any tips for that specifically? I feel like my photos aren’t ‘high quality’ enough and people have told me that as well.