- June 18, 2013

8 Easy Ways to Take Better iPhone Photos


This weekend, I had the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of amazing Texas bloggers, and their families, at SeaWorld San Antonio. As part of the Wildside program*, I was invited to attend AdventureCon, to learn more about the business of blogging from professionals in various related fields. 

One of my favorite AdventureCon sessions was a Photo Walk with San Antonio photographer Nan Palmero. According to Nan, he became a photographer after touring Prague and taking really bad pictures.  He decided to stop taking really bad pictures.  So, he bought a fancy camera and learned [insert fancy camera language here]. Sorry, that part washed right over me.  

If you have been following Free Fun in Austin for any amount of time, you have likely noticed that I am not the world’s greatest photographer.  I use my iPhone and I don’t really know what I’m doing.  That’s why Nan’s walk was perfect for me.  He took a few bloggers on a stroll around SeaWorld and gave us helpful tips for taking better photos with our smart phones.  I’ve been amazed at how well his tips have worked for me, so I wanted to share. 

From Nan’s (unofficial) School of Photography: 
1. Be bold! Get close to your subject.  Photos taken from far away aren’t interesting. Nan instructed us, “Zoom in on your subject.  And when I say ‘zoom’ I mean ‘move your feet!'”

2. Don’t use the digital zoom feature on your phone.  Pictures will be much higher resolution if you take the photo without zooming, then crop.  

This is the same photo, before and after cropping.  To crop, I used the edit feature in my iPhone’s Camera Roll. 

3. Use the rule of thirds. Don’t center your photographs, but rather align the focal point with intersecting lines on the grid.  To see your grid when taking a photo, open your iPhone camera, touch “Options,” and turn the grid on. 

Here’s my experimental photo.  My son’s face is aligned with the spot where the grid lines intersect on the bottom right.  More interesting than if he were centered?

3. Hold your phone with two hands when taking photos.  This will keep it steady and improve the focus. 

4. When taking action shots, hold the camera icon button down until you are ready to take a photo, then release.  This will result in a clearer photo than if you had pushed the button with your finger to take the shot. 

5. Indoors, touch your phone screen in an area where you would like to see more light.  The camera will adjust the light and brighten up your photo in this spot.

This tip also works in the shade. If you are photographing a person in low light or shade, touch their face on the screen.  The camera will adjust the light around their face.

6. Keep the sun to your back when taking photos outside, or indoors near windows.

7. Consider buying the Camera+ app for $1.99.  This app will automatically re-focus your picture as you move your phone.  It also has a “Burst” option, which allows you to take several photos in quick succession, increasing your chance of getting the perfect shot.

8. Move! Always be on the move, trying shots from multiple angles.  This advice applies to taking video on your phone as well – don’t stand still when filming. (Bonus video tip: Before recording, tap your screen twice.  The screen will narrow, revealing how much of your view will be visible in your video.) 

I hope these iPhone tricks work for you.  Let me know if you have more tips to share!

* As a 2013 Wildside blogger, I received complimentary Fun Cards for my family to enjoy SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica.  I was also invited to attend AdventureCon at no charge. I was not asked to write about my experience and all opinions are my own. I appreciate the Wildside program for working to connect Texas bloggers and helping us to become better at what we do. If you’re a family blogger in Texas, check out the Wildside program!