When taking photos with your iPhone, do you tend to seek out grand and impressive scenes? While this can result in great photos, it’s often far more interesting to take a closer look at the smaller things around you. By focusing in on details such as texture, patterns, and light, or creating a bit of mystery by revealing only a small part of the scene, you can tell more captivating stories with your photos. In this tutorial you’ll discover how to take beautiful and intriguing iPhone photos by capturing the smaller details around you.
1. Capture Close-Up Details
For an intimate vibe, try getting really close to your subject. Fill the entire frame with the subject to place maximum emphasis on the important details. With no background distractions, the viewer’s attention won’t wander.
Photographing subjects like flowers from up close allows you to capture intricate detail that you wouldn’t be able to see in a photo taken from further away.
We often forget to get in close to the objects we’re shooting, but there’s so much beauty to be found in close-up subjects.
You might not think to get this close when photographing a cat, but look at the amazing detail and texture that I’ve captured here. You can almost feel the softness of its fur.
Keep in mind that the iPhone’s camera won’t be able to focus if you get too close to the subject. If you want to get really close to an object you’ll need to use an add-on macro lens.
2. Fill The Frame With The Subject
Another way to focus the viewer’s attention on a particular detail is to fill the entire frame with the subject — even if you’re not shooting it from up close.
This works particularly well when it’s the pattern or texture of the subject that you want to convey in your photo.
Including just part of a subject like this tends to create an abstract image because you’re removing it from its context.
3. Photograph Textures
Textures are an amazing detail to capture in your photos. They give your images a tactile feel and really bring them to life.
Keep your eyes peeled for different kinds of texture such as blistering paint, rough wood, rust, soft fur, feathers, leaves, grass, and anything else that makes you want to reach out and touch it.
If you shoot an autumn leaf up close you can clearly see its beautiful texture and how the wind and rain has taken its toll on it.
Now you get a feeling that the leaf has its own life.
Most textures are best captured up close, like the feather above. But sometimes you might want to shoot from further away, like I did when photographing this pile of logs.
It’s also a great idea to look out for different textures in a single scene, such as the old wooden fence and the leaves in the photo below.
4. Capture Details In Nature
Nature offers some wonderful opportunities to capture intricate details in your images.
Water droplets are perfect for adding a magical quality to your nature photos.
Be sure to venture out after the rain or early in the morning when you’ll often find dew drops on flowers, leaves, and spider webs.
Keep your eye out for tiny insects like the stunning yellow ladybird in the photo below. You often don’t notice them until you start looking more closely.
When shooting landscapes, how about including some close-up flowers in the foreground?
This really gives context to your image, showing the viewer exactly what you were experiencing out in nature.
5. Photograph Water
Water provides some excellent opportunities to capture beautiful and unique detail in your iPhone photos.
The ripples in a lake, river, or ocean create amazing patterns and texture.
Try filling the frame with just the water to emphasize the texture, color, and light reflections.
Maybe you could include some overhanging leaves like I did in the photo below to add a bit of extra color and detail.
Or take a photo on a misty day so that water gradually fades out to white. This will create a beautiful minimalist image like the one below where the focus is just on the color and texture of the water.
If you’re shooting at the beach, watch how the water creates interesting detail when it reaches the shore.
Capturing water splashes and bubbles will add a fantastic sense of energy to your water photos.
You could also experiment with including water in your indoor photography.
A few water droplets added to a leaf or flower will add a jewel-like quality to your still life photos.
6. Look For Architectural Details
Architecture is another fascinating subject that offers endless opportunities for finding interesting details to photograph.
You’ll often find that it’s easier to take great photos of buildings if you focus in on the smaller details.
Explore the exteriors and interiors of buildings, keeping your eyes peeled for any architectural details that might make an interesting photo.
Look for lines, patterns, textures, shapes and colors. Think about how you might compose your architecture shot to make the most of these features.
Filling the frame with a particular part of the building can create a stunning abstract shot.
Explore both modern and older buildings as they’ll offer very different photo opportunities.
Older buildings are great places to find rust, peeling paint, weathered wood and other interesting textures.
And don’t forget to explore other architectural structures such as bridges, industrial structures, electricity pylons, etc.
7. Capture Interesting Light
When you take a photo, you’re always capturing light in some form. But certain kinds of light are more interesting than others.
If you’re shooting on an overcast day, the light is soft and diffused. While this is great for avoiding harsh shadows in your photos, the light itself isn’t that interesting.
A sunny day provides you with more opportunities to capture beautiful light in your pictures.
Look out for interesting sun flares and beams of light that will add a magical quality to your photos.
These are especially noticeable in forests where the light streams through the gaps in the trees.
Light and shadow play offers another great photo opportunity. Wherever there’s a strong light source, you’re sure to find interesting shadows.
If you’re shooting indoors, notice how the light streams in through the window, casting shadows on walls and floors.
Explore the same location at different times of the day to get a sense of when the shadows will appear.
Shadows add a sense of mystery and drama to a photo. The darkness makes the viewer intrigued about what might be hiding in the shadows.
When you’re shooting in sunlight, try to notice how the color and quality of the light changes throughout the day.
Harsh midday sun is very bright and will cast dark shadows in the scene.
Shooting around the golden hours of sunset and sunrise is a great time to capture long shadows. It also produces a beautiful warm light that adds a golden glow to your photos.
Most things looks beautiful with a dash of natural light, so rather than just looking for interesting subjects for your photography, try to notice interesting light too.
8. Reveal Just Part Of The Scene
If you want to create an intriguing photo with a wonderful sense of mystery, try capturing just a part of the scene in your composition.
Rather than photographing the entire scene, focus in on a certain part of it or on certain details that will capture the viewer’s imagination.
Excluding parts of the whole story will make the viewer think for themselves. This allows their imagination to run wild so that they’re free to create their own story.
It will make them ask questions, such as: Who’s that person? What are they pointing at? What’s that object doing there? Who does it belong to?
Don’t be afraid to crop off body parts, or parts of an inanimate subject, leaving just a part of it in your photo.
Experiment with different compositions where your subject is creeping in from the edge of the frame.
Try leaving lots of negative (empty) space around your subject as this can actually help to draw attention to the important smaller details.
Focusing in on a certain detail also gives it more prominence in your photo.
In the photo above, focusing in on just the baby’s feet shows exactly what captured my attention and made me want to take a photo. The bold pattern of the fabric adds extra color and interest to the picture.
Choosing what to include and exclude from your photo might be tricky at first, but with practice you’ll learn to recognize a good composition.
Remember that you need to include enough detail to give your photo meaning, but leave out enough to create a sense of mystery and intrigue.
9. Reveal Something About Yourself
In a world full of blatant “selfies” we want to avoid the typical selfie face-shot as there’s nothing creative about them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t include yourself in your pictures.
The trick is to do it in a more subtle way. The purpose is to tell the viewer something about yourself without getting too personal or intrusive.
For example, I love the color green. So including my hand or arm in a scene full of green leaves, or holding a single green leaf against a green backdrop of grass is the perfect way to add a more personal touch to these images.
If you have a tattoo or are wearing jewelry, include it in the shot to give the viewer a little hint of who you are.
If you love flowers, include your own hand within a bed of your favorite blooms.
If you have a musical instrument that you want to photograph, include your hand within the shot to indicate that you’re actually playing the instrument.
Another technique I like to use is to include my hand in a shot to show that I’m exploring the scene and taking you on a journey.
If I hadn’t included my hand in the photo below, it would have been a fairly ordinary shot of some crops in a field. But the hand shows that I’m about to venture through these crops to explore the location.
Another option is to include your feet within the scene to show what environment you’re in. This is a classic kind of shot that can be varied to no end depending on your where you’re standing.
You might want to do this if you find a beautiful floor, if you’re at the beach, or if you find some nice colors on the ground that contrast with your footwear.
Not only does it place you within the scene, but it also creates a focal point in your photo – somewhere for the viewer to focus their attention.
If you spot a puddle on the ground, how about including your feet in the shot while capturing the rest of you as a reflection in the water?
10. Look For The Unusual
If you want to tell more interesting stories in your iPhone photos, look out for unusual details that will captivate the viewer.
You wouldn’t normally find red roses or a ball of red wool discarded in the grass. Therefore, it makes an interesting photo because it gets the viewer thinking about the scene.
Anything that will intrigue the viewer and make them want to know more about it is a great subject for a photo. You want the viewer to ask questions so that they become more interested.
Of course, you don’t just have to photograph found objects. Try using interesting props and placing them in usual places to create your own stories.
Little details like an unusual object or prop can make an ordinary scene appear extraordinary.
Once you start looking for unusual details, you’ll begin to spot little stories all around you.
For example, the flower in the photo below was once a proud member of this beautiful bouquet, but now its time has come while the rest of the bouquet stands strong.
Little details like this can be used to create wonderful stories and metaphors. Of course, the viewer will interpret every image in their own unique way… and that’s the beauty of photography!
Photography isn’t always about capturing the bigger picture and revealing as much as possible about the scene.
Focusing in on the smaller details and capturing just a certain aspect of the subject often creates more interesting and intriguing images.
Seek out beautiful or unusual details, and get up close to capture them in all their glory. Create a bit of mystery by leaving something to the imagination.
Aim to evoke emotions in your viewer, and use little details to create magical and captivating stories that the viewer can immerse themselves in.