Sara Tasker is a passionate iPhone photographer and blogger from England who takes stunning photos with her iPhone. Whether she’s photographing children, animals, self portraits, still life scenes or landscapes, she makes use of beautiful light and subdued colors to create wonderful mood in her images. In this interview you’ll learn more about Sara, and how she takes such magical iPhone photos.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a freelance photographer, writer and blogger. I live in rural Yorkshire, England with my fiancé and young daughter, Orla.
My background is in something totally unrelated – Speech and Language therapy.
But thanks to the popularity that my iPhone photography found online, I was able to take the leap to working creatively full time.
How did your iPhone photography journey begin?
Whilst pregnant with my daughter, I found I was using my DSLR less and less as I was too busy, tired or distracted.
I wanted a way to record all the changes that were coming into my life, so I began a photo-a-day challenge using just my iPhone.
I’d seen examples of really beautiful iPhone photography online and read a few simple tutorials to get myself started, and I just kept at it.
How did you learn to take such beautiful photos?
I’ve always seen the world in pictures. When I was younger I wished I could take photographs with my eyes.
Gradually through my twenties I experimented with different types of camera.
I taught myself how to take pictures that could live up to the ones in my head – mainly through trial and error, experimentation and a lot of practice.
What kind of things inspire you to reach for your iPhone and take a photo?
I’m always drawn to the little moments where the mundane meets the magical – the sunlight on the breakfast table, or some colorful balloons caught in the scrub on the moors.
Generally if something makes me stop and look, I know it’s worth a picture – and even if I’m driving or on a bus, I find a way to stop everything and take that shot.
A lot of your photos are still life compositions. What tips do you have for taking great still life shots with the iPhone?
Natural light is essential, and I’ll take any I can get – from bright sunlight to gloomy winter day skies.
I like my backgrounds to be perfectly straight, so I make sure my phone is always perfectly perpendicular to my subject.
It’s so easy to tilt it slightly towards your subject and end up with an unintended perspective change.
That said, I’m always happy for the subject of the photo to be a little messy and random. Texture and asymmetry can really change the mood of a whole shot.
One tip I’d share is to step back from your composition and take some shots from there.
It’s easy to get drawn into all the details, but usually on reflection my favorite photos are the ones with a little more distance.
You take gorgeous photos of your daughter, Orla. Many people find photographing children quite challenging, so do you have any advice for taking great iPhone photos of kids?
Maximize the light – open the curtains, clear off the window ledges, or just go outside.
The more light you have, the faster your iPhone’s shutter speed will be, which means less blurry photos if your child is moving around.
Orla point blank refuses to pose for me, so I’ve learnt to act quickly when I see a photo moment with her.
Practice opening your camera from the lock screen and use burst mode to increase the odds of getting that one great shot.
If your child is uneasy about being photographed, it can help to let them look at the photos afterwards and talk about what they’re doing in each picture.
There are even apps that will play a sound when you take a shot to make your child look up!
You also shoot wonderfully moody landscapes. What’s your favorite kind of light and weather for landscape photography?
Since moving to Yorkshire, I definitely prefer to shoot the moody days. I especially love it when the rain suddenly clears, and the roads and pavements reflect the ice-blue English skies.
The fog and mist are always beautiful too – some days in winter I get up before dawn just to make sure I catch it!
Do you use any accessories in your iPhone photography?
Generally, no. I use my headphones sometimes as a shutter release, and tend to improvise tripods out of household objects as needed.
You’d be surprised what you can rig up with a roll of masking tape, the self timer function and enough determination!
Are there any apps that you use for taking photos besides the native camera app?
Camera+ has a heap of great options for when I need a little more control, but as the native iPhone camera has improved, I’ve found I need it less and less.
I like having the simple parameters of the iPhone camera. Sometimes limiting your options can make you work harder and be more creative!
What are your favorite apps for post-processing?
It isn’t the most user-friendly app when you first encounter it, but I urge everyone to persevere as it really is brilliant.
Your Instagram feed has a very cohesive feel, even though you photograph different kinds of subjects. How important is this, and how do you go about achieving a certain look and feel in your photos?
It’s something that I’ve acquired gradually over time, and it happens now without even thinking. That said, I do think it matters.
Most people prefer to follow Instagram accounts that offer a distinct and reliable quality of content, and an inconsistent gallery view is likely to attract fewer followers.
I keep my library in VSCO as a replica of my current Instagram gallery, and I use this to compare, contrast and predict how images will work together.
That’s as much planning as I need – simply being able to check if it looks okay. And usually if it doesn’t, I know exactly what needs adjusting to make it flow together.
You’ve built up a large and loyal following on Instagram. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start growing their Instagram following?
Just post your best photos, and keep going. People get hung up on hashtags and strategies, and it’s true that these things can help, but ultimately what will determine your success is the quality of your photographs.
Make your imagery beautiful and engaging, and sooner or later your following will come.
Can you briefly explain the story and editing process behind your three favorite iPhone photos?
This is my daughter Orla, when she fell asleep on the sofa one day in this lovely light. She rarely naps during daylight any more, so I wanted a picture to capture the moment.
I framed her in the centre of the shot, and made sure I tapped to expose and focus on her face.
In post-processing, I used VSCO to drop the exposure a little, which brought out the pinks in her cheeks and showed a little more detail. I also added a little preset to keep the colors cool and slightly subdued.
I was so drawn to these roses last summer that I stopped my car to get a photo. The lady who owned the house came out to chat to me and I felt subconscious, so ended up rushing the shot a little.
It sat in my camera roll for a while as I just wasn’t very inspired by it. Then one day I opened it in VSCO and played around with dropping the exposure right down.
Suddenly all the detail of the roses became prevalent, and it instantly became a favorite capture!
I drove up onto the moors especially to capture this misty shot, having a really clear idea in my mind of how I wanted it to look.
I set the phone up on the roof of my car, and nudged the exposure down a little low. I always find this works best for me when capturing moody landscapes.
I let it autofocus on me once I was in shot, and had my fiancé trigger burst mode as I needed a batch of photos so I could capture the wind mid-blow.
In VSCO I simply added a filter and cropped it so I was perfectly centered as planned.
Do you shoot with any other cameras, and if so, when do you prefer to use the iPhone?
I shoot with a Canon DSLR for my branded work and other projects – mainly because of the resolution and the need for really large image sizes.
I used to shoot everything for my blog on the DSLR, but most of the time these days I use my iPhone.
I’m able to get the results I want just as easily, and my post-production and uploading workflow is just so much easier that way.
What tips do you have for beginner iPhone photographers who want to start taking more creative photos with their iPhone?
Learn all the features of your iPhone. When you have so few things in your control, it’s essential to know how to use them to your advantage.
Then practice, practice, practice. Find your own style and tell your story.
Which iPhone photographers do you admire the most?
I love the artist Carolyn Mara’s creative iPhone photography (@carolyn_mara).
Where can we see your iPhone photography?
I also sell digital rights to selected images at Twenty20: twenty20.com/meandorla/photos