How to Find Great Subjects in iPhone Photography

iPhone photographers often struggle to find subjects for their photos. However, great subjects can be found anywhere and anytime; you just need to learn to recognize them. This article will take a look at some of my own photos and discuss how and where each subject was found.

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Photography Contests

Contests are a great way to give you ideas for finding subjects if you struggle to find them on your own. Participate in the various photography contests and hashtag projects. Two examples are the photography contests and weekend hashtag projects (WHP) administered by iPhone Photography School and Instagram respectively.

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A few weeks ago the WHP theme was “Chairs” and as a result of the WHP subject I shot the above photos.

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The following week the WHP theme was “hands” which gave me the idea to shoot these examples.

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While out driving around looking for places to photograph my red chair for the WHP I just stumbled upon a green big chair! What a great luck!

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The more photos you take, the easier it will be to identify the subjects that you find easy to take photos of and the subjects that are challenging for you.

Mall Parking Lot

Yes, even the mall parking lot has pretty subjects. I was walking out of a big box store into the parking lot that was not necessarily pretty in any way. The sun was setting, and looking around I mostly saw buildings, power lines and cars. The sky looked so pretty I just had to take a photo!

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I pointed my iPhone camera at a treetop. The below shot was quite popular on my Instagram feed. The photo above is the parking lot to give you an idea of where I was. The photo below is the end result.

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At Random

I was at work and poured some Seltzer water into a tall clear glass. I looked down and what I saw looked cool to me, so out my iPhone came to take a photo. To test potential subjects I often take a lot of photos like this just to see the result. Some come out great and others not so great. If something looks cool or beautiful to you, try and photograph it.

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I was at my husband’s shop waiting for him to finish up. As usual I was looking around for things to photograph and spotted a potential subject. Sockets! I pointed the camera straight down at them (after pushing them together a bit more but keeping the randomness). The result is shown below.

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Driving Down the Road

Don’t just admire that flock of birds on the side of the road. Take a photo! They are a great subject!

The below shot was taken as I was leaving the beach. I had driven there to take some sunset photos. I spotted the birds on the median and thought they looked beautiful. Since I was driving I thought there was no way to get a good shot, but leaving the beach required a u-turn which meant I would pass them again.

As I passed them for the second time I decided to at least try. I slowed down next to the birds which scared them and off they flew. Since I had pointed the camera already, I hit the shutter button anyway and the result is seen below.

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At Home

Ladybugs are so pretty! But how can something so tiny be a good subject? The lens in the iPhone is fairly good at macro on its own. I went as close as the focus would allow and took a shot of the little lady as she crawled across a white surface.

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One of the keys to finding good subjects is looking at something and liking what you see. If you like it, the chances are that so will others. With small subjects, get as close as the focus will allow (before it will no longer focus). You can do additional zooming in after you take the photo.

I was eating dinner with my husband and looked up at the glass jar up on a shelf in our kitchen, and the shadow looked cool. I was not sure why I hadn’t noticed it sooner since the jar had been there for a very long time. I got up and took a photo immediately (he is now used to me stopping at random to take photos of random things).

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Get Creative!

I saw some photos of a beautiful mural in NYC and decided I wanted to photograph it myself. Directly across the street is a coffee shop at which I stopped in for some iced coffee. While outside arranging my stuff on the bench in front of the coffee shop I noticed a reflection of the mural in the glass.

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Why take a straight on photo like everybody else? Not only was the window very beautiful but so was the reflection! (This relates to the above tip where I mention that if you see something beautiful – take a photo!)

Subjects not Necessarily Beautiful Themselves

Try to find subjects that you would not think make great subjects. Try to find beauty in things that are not traditionally beautiful. Power lines are a popular subject of nontraditional beauty.


Sometimes the subject you planned on taking photos of will turn out not to be your best subject for the day. Always look beyond the subject(s) you had planned on being the focus of your photo shoot.

Many times I went to take photos of something specific and the photos I was most pleased with were the spontaneous shots that I took while looking around.

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These are just a few examples of how great subjects for iPhone photography can be found anytime and anywhere. Try experimenting with lighting and re-shooting the same subjects or landscapes at different times of the year.

About the Author

Alicia Katsur discovered her passion for photography as a child and has never owned a sophisticated camera. She enjoys, in addition to iPhone photography, international travel, snowboarding, cycling, and seeing penguins in the wild.

See more of her work by checking out her Instagram at @flock_of_penguins (creative feed with a broad focus) and @igercatskills (photo gallery documenting the beauty of the Catskill Mountain area in upstate New York).


  • Thank you Alicia for sharing your great tips with us!

  • Faye

    Yes, great tips! I definitely agree that entering contests pushes you to look at things differently and to always be aware of potential subjects for your photos. I have to thank Emil for that.

    • Thanks Faye, so happy to hear my contests have inspired you to look for new subjects 🙂

    • Stuart Guest

      Yes I have to agree there Faye. Emil’s contests are a great source of inspiration.

  • For someone like me who doesn’t get a chance to venture too far from home these were great tips!

  • Pilot53

    As Alicia says, the first step is liking what you see. Everything flows from that.