Select Page

15 tips on how to improve your iPhone photography

15 tips on how to improve your iPhone photography

15 Tips on how to improve your iPhone photography

Although this post will focus on how to improve your iPhone photography, those next tips will apply more or less to any phone with a modern camera.

Going years back, to be able to take good photos, you needed to have a DSLR or a good point and shoot camera which was pretty expensive in that time, because phone photography wasn’t an option at that time.

I remember the first iPhone released more than 12 years ago with a 2MP camera, which was considered a good camera by then on a phone. But since then, iPhone photography evolved a lot, nowadays some phones having even 3 cameras with different apertures and the possibility to use optical zoom.

In the case of an iPhone, we have the releases of iPhone X and beyond, with two rear cameras, one of them is a classic wide while the other is a “zoom camera lens”

Shall we get this post rolling and get straight to the subject?


1. Tap to focus.

When we talk about the iPhone, we talk about that little expensive phone with a touchscreen. The apple manufacturers (although others also) are improving the camera sensor with every new release, therefore for not only better sharpness but better photographs in low-light scenarios.

Compared to some older phone models, those new cameras have a wide-open aperture which allows you not only to take better photographs in low light but to obtain a shallower depth of field while you have to focus on your subject.

The intelligent modes existant on your iPhone will try to focus on your subject automatically but I would rather prefer to do it myself, therefore, my first tip to improve your iPhone photography is to tap on your subject for the camera to focus.

When you tap on the screen on your subject, a square will appear while the camera will focus on it. When you focus on your subject, the camera will try to autoexposure, for your image to have the right exposure.

But near the square, there is a vertical line which I call it “the exposure line”

2. The exposure line

the exposure line

As just mentioned above, the exposure line is a vertical line which appears on the right side near the focus square, on the moment you tap to focus.

By moving your finger up and down on the line, you will be able to change the exposure before you take your picture. This is very useful if the scene is either too dark or too bright, to bring the right exposure value in place.

Some photographers who are using an iPhone to take photos are using this function to create special effect images such as silhouettes when shooting against a bright background (such as the sun)

Having some extra control over the exposure with such a simple swipe up&down can be game-changing on how to improve your iPhone photography.

3. Use the rule of thirds

Like in any photography courses for DSLR, taking pictures with the rule of thirds would apply to any camera devices including the ones found in phones.

In the case of your iPhone, we have a grid which can help anyone in need to use the rule of thirds while taking pictures with it. This can help us to place the right elements on your image and to make sure that the horizon line is straight.

You can activate the ‘grid’ function from your main settings > camera (depending on your phone model)

See this article from Digital Photography School (external link) to find more information about it.

4. Leading lines and the line of the horizon

Mentioned above, the grid function will not only help you to take better photographs using the rule of thirds but also to better observe the leading lines and the line of the horizon.

The majority of the population from our little planet when they are taking photographs with their mobile phone, they tend to ignore those simple rules which can have a major impact on how an image can look.

To be able to improve your phone photography, always keep in mind and remember to use the leading lines and that the horizon line is also straight. Although the above example may not be perfect, I hope is enough to understand my point.

5. Use HDR mode


HDR comes from high-dynamic range and is a simple process where (usually) your phone is taking multiple exposures at the moment you take a picture, allowing your camera to set better a better performance and your images to look better in relation with shadows and highlights.

Your iPhone will process those multiple images taken with different exposures, from dark to very bright of the same scene, and stick them together before it will give you your final image.

This process is done automatically and it takes less than a second for the final result, your photo.

You can enable the HDR mode on your iPhone from Settings > Camera > Auto HDR. You can also select to keep the original photo as an addition to the HDR version (keep in mind that every photo will be a duplicate in this case)

6. Do not use flash

An iPhone camera flash is kinda useless when related to photography. Not even that, but you if you are really trying to use flash when taking photographs with your iPhone, those photos will mostly look ridiculous.

From my personal point of view, I see that flash as a torch only and I will use the flash only in extreme situations.

The answer is simple: If you are aiming to improve your iPhone photography, I do not recommend to use flash at all when taking any photographs in any conditions.

7. Using camera filters

phone photography filters

Maybe you are asking yourself, why the hex should I use filters?

As a photographer, I see those things from a different perspective. I usually see that camera filters are some useless way to change colour and the ambience of a scene, therefore as normal I do not recommend using the filters.

But, here I don’t want to talk from a photographer point of view where to post-process an image is a bit more complicated thing compared to use filters, I want to talk from a regular person point of view.

Unless you are trying to create a portfolio with the images taken with your mobile phone, I would guess that those photos they are either memory you want to keep them for a long time or to use on social media such as Facebook or Instagram.

If you want to take photographs for your own memory and nothing related to social media, I would not recommend you to use any filters. In the other case, remember that social media profiles will give you options to add filters when you upload a new image. But those filters kinda suck.

Sometimes, well, most of the times, from a phone photography point of view, I see those filters as a possibility to improve a photo emotion or message before uploading it on social media, with much better results than to use any other filters.

My final thought about this is that I am in favour of using camera filters if those photos are taken for social media. Not all the time but occasionally where a scene allows it and the results are better than a simple photo.

8. Install 3rd party camera apps

There are many camera apps on the market place, both free and paid versions, for your iPhone.

Some of them unlock you more options like control over ISO, shutter, even the ability to take your photos in RAW version (which some phones does not allow this from the standard camera app)

Enjoying your tips to improve your phone photography? Don’t forget to share it and spread the love 🙂

9. Make sure you wipe your camera lens

Before taking any photos, make sure you wipe your lens with a piece of cloth. If the camera is dirty, you will ruin very easily your photos.

I remember years ago when I was to an event and all I had to me was my mobile phone. The event ended with a show of fireworks and I’ve tried to capture some of them with my phone camera. When I’ve seen them at home, the firework’s lights were looking like UFO’s due to fingerprints I had on the camera lens

Compared to a DSLR where a lens even if is dusty or having fingerprints does not affect (too much) the image quality, a mobile phone camera is very affected by anything from a simple scratch to dust particles or fingerprints which they are common.

Therefore, I would recommend you to set yourself a routine that every time before you use your mobile phone camera, give it a quick wipe with your t-shirt (like me lol) or a soft cloth.

10. Understanding your camera lens field of view

On our list on how to improve your iPhone photography, this is also an important step, the same as in DSLR photography. Understanding the field of view help you create a better composition and place better the element into your scene.

Field of view is the wideness your lens can capture a photo, as an instance, the iPhone X has two camera lenses with two different field of views. As simple as it looks like you are taking a photo with or without optical zoom, understanding this will help you improve your iPhone photography.

Therefore, there is no much you can do about other than practice and more practice by taking photographs with your iPhone and experiment with the composition.

11. Retouching your photo.

retouching a photo, improve phone photography

Your phone photographs will definitely outstand after you retouch those images. You don’t need to have photoshop or other sophisticated retouching software, you can do it straight in your phone.

For instance, if you have an iPhone, you can press ‘edit’ on your photo and play with the sliders and filters, as you like.

Although those photographs taken straight out of your camera are JPEG, they have a (very) limited part in relation to post-processing. For the best results, I would recommend you to shoot in RAW. To shoot in RAW you need to install a 3rd party app as the iPhones do not support this at the moment of writing this blog post (or at least not my iPhone X).

If you need a better understanding, have a read on my other post JPEG VS RAW

12. Always be ready

Maybe this is not one of my top tips for you on how to take better photographs with your phone, maybe this doesn’t even fall under that category, but still, I have to mention it.

I have a guess that you have your mobile phone with you all the time. Understanding better photography and how to take better photos with your iPhone camera can be an addition to the point where you may see something which worth to be photographed.

This “something” can be either a rainbow, a powerful storm, a scene or element out of the ordinary. The above tips will definitely help you to take better photos with your iPhone camera in any scenarios (even if they are newsworthy) and can make a difference between a snapshot and a great photo.

Not always you have to plan for a great photo or session of photos. Always be ready for that.

13. Taking vertical vs horizontal photographs

With your iPhone as same as with a DSLR, it is important to know when to take vertical and when to take horizontal photographs.

It is pointless to take photographs of the sea vertically and to a tall building horizontally. This is just basic logic, but still, a thing to remember.

I will write down a shortlist of scenarios when to take vertical and when to take horizontal photographs.

  • To a single person, closeup – Vertical
  • A group of people – Horizontal
  • Photographs on the street – Both vertical and horizontal
  • Seaside or landscape – always horizontal
  • Solo selfie – Vertical
  • Minimum two selfie – Horizontal

Let’s think about logic. There is not a rule to follow which type of photographs to take therefore you must use your logic and assess how the elements can be better placed into your photo, as being vertical or horizontal?

Have a read on my other post “vertical vs horizontal photographs” for a better understanding.

14. Night Photographs Tips

As the iPhones and other mobile phones evolved and will evolve every year, the cameras allow you to take better photos than before during the night or in the low light situation

Keep in mind that a camera phone will never reach the low light capability compared to a DSLR, therefore, to be able to take better night photographs with your iPhone you have to know the very basics of low light photography.

The first thing to mention is finding a source of light (do not use flash please) which can be a street light or anything which can boost a bit the light in your photo. If you are not able, there is no much to do, unless you have a photo app which allows you to set manual values and slow down your shutter speed.

In this case, you will also need a tripod or a stand to put your phone, because it will be complicated to take photographs during the night with a slow shutter speed handheld.

The second thing to mention is to try to stay still (I do hold my breath) to remove as much as possible motion when using your iPhone camera to take a photo during the night.

And a third thing is to mention the possibility to boost a bit the exposure in post-processing if the photo is too dark, but the price to pay is extra grainy noise into your image.

15. Think different. Be creative.

improve your phone photography

Every person is creative in their own way. We all have a level of creativity, more creative you are, better chances to strike with amazing photographs taken with your iPhone.

To be a photographer you need to have some creativity. But let’s see this from a normal person’s perspective, shall we?

Not everyone who is reading this post is a photographer, maybe people are looking for some guidance or tips. When you take photographs both with a DSLR or a mobile phone, or better said with any camera types, create an image in your mind on how would you like to see the scene you want to capture, how is the best to arrange the elements and how the composition will work with your image?

Try to explore and see things differently. If you enjoy photography there is no doubt that you may already have everything you need to take amazing photographs

Sweet&Love my iPhone camera! Conclusion.

Although this post may give your or not the answer which you are looking for, consider it as being a guide to help you understand better the process of taking photographs with your phone, or better said with your iPhone, as focused per this post.

It may be hard, but to remember the basic things about phone photography can be game-changing and help you improve drastically your photographs taken with your iPhone.

I know this is more like personal, but my mother was never a photographer or anything related to photography. But she has an iPhone. Her photos on her holidays look so terrible, so I did help her and gave her the same advice I wrote on this post. Not long after, she improved a lot and her photographs were surprisingly good. Even now, after a few years, she remembers and she always respects the same basic rules of composition and photography.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you did, please give us a share to spread the love of photography :). Have an amazing day and if you want, you can read a few more posts related below:

Pin it!

This is a Pinterest-friendly post. You can easily share it using the Tailwind Publisher or Pinterest Save Button, and you can choose one or more vertical images created for this post.

Subscribe to get your Monday Morning Photography Dose

Taking photographs with your mobile phone or iPhone can be a bit tricky. What does it take to be able to capture amazing photographs with your iPhone?
In this post, I want to share with you 15 tips on how to improve your iPhone photography