8 Photography Tips for Taking Better iPhone Photos Blog Cover Image
dara coyne upload media headshot

by Dara Coyne

Creative Director

Posted on June 18, 2020

8 Photography Tips for Taking Better iPhone Photos


Taking photographs on an iPhone is a pretty easy task but taking good photos requires skill. This skill can be thought and learned, and like anything, all you need is practice. I’ve put together 8 photography tips for taking better iPhone photos that I believe are the most helpful and will help you increase your photography game. These can be a great stepping stone if you are considering shooting on a larger digital camera with brands such as Canon, Nikon and Sony.

Start by implementing just one step and get comfortable with using the tip I’ve given. Then, try another step and practice that until you have completed all 8 steps. Let’s begin!

Photography Tip 1 – Turn On Your Grid

Up first is turning on your grid. The grid feature allows you to create a balanced composition that adheres to the rule of thirds (full details in Step 6). Faint white lines will appear while shooting but will not appear once your photo is taken and saved to your camera roll.

To turn on the grid feature, open up Settings and scroll down to Camera. Inside this menu, turn on the Grid setting. It’s off by default for new iPhones.

In this menu also, make sure Smart HDR is turned on also. Smart HDR (High Dynamic Range) intelligently blends the best parts of separate exposures into a single photo. This will prevent over- or under-exposing parts of your images while shooting and I find it’s a very effective feature.

Photography Tips Blog Turn on your Grid

Photography Tip 2 – Zoom In

“Ugh, I hate it!” I hear this all too often when taking pictures of people over the years. The reason is that when we shoot on our phones, they use wide lenses. Depending on your iPhones model, their focal length will vary but are approximately 26mm on a full-frame camera. Our eyes see the world in approximately 70mm so this is why we appear to look different in images.

To make your photographs look more natural, tap on the 1x at the bottom of the screen and it will change to 2x. This will turn your camera from a wide lens to a telephoto lens with a focal length of 52mm. If you need to zoom in closer to your subject, just move yourself closer and don’t go beyond 2x. If you do, your images will appear noisey and pixelated due to the loss in image quality.

Photography Tips Blog Zoom In

Photography Tip 3 – Manual Focus

Depending on your subject for your image – a person, building or landscape – you can tap the screen to focus on your subject. I always tap people’s faces when photographing people as this is where people look when viewing the pictures later. If faces are blurry, you’ve failed!

If you find the focus point keeps changing, you can lock the focus point by holding down on the screen. A yellow banner will appear above your capture area with “AE/AF Lock”. AE stands for Auto Exposure and AF stands for Auto Focus. If you or your subject moves, you will need to update your focus otherwise your photographs will be blurry.

Photography Tips Blog Manual Focus

Photography Tip 4 – Adjust Your Exposure

When you tap to focus, you’ll notice a sun icon appear to the right side of the focus square. If you press down on the icon, you can move it up and down like a slider. Moving the slider upwards increases the exposure and moving the slider downwards decreases the exposure.

iPhones do a pretty good job at auto-exposing a scene, especially having Smart HDR turned on from Tip 1, but having the option to override the auto setting is a great help.

Photography Tips Blog Adjust Exposure

Photography Tip 5 – Rule of Thirds

With the Grids setting turned on, you can experiment using the the rule of thirds. Centering your subject is great for portraits but showcasing a scene around your subject can be helped using the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is a type of composition in which an image is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and the subject is placed at the intersection of the dividing lines or just along one of the lines.

Have a look at some of the examples I’ve included to get a better idea. You can put your horizon on one of the third-lines, a building on one of the third-intersections, or a subject being interviewing on one of the third-intersections also.

Photography Tips Blog Rule of Thirds

Photography Tip 6 – Clean Your Lens

We spend a lot of time on phones throughout the day and this leads to our devices being covered in fingerprints. So, it’s not unlikely that your camera lens gets touched from time-to-time, leaving behind smudges and dust.

It may seem obvious but it’s something that’s overlooked. A good habit is to quickly wipe the lens before taking a photo.

Photography Tips Blog Clean Lens

Photography Tip 7 – Use Your Volume Buttons

When shooting landscape (sideways) you should use your volume buttons to take photos as opposed to the button on-screen. It can be difficult to use your thumb to shoot unless you cradle the phone with both hands and also awkward to shoot and tap using your finger. The easiest option is to use the volume buttons on the side of your iPhone.

Using this method will avoid camera shake and you can hold your iPhone firmly will shooting. This will result in taking sharper images with no blurriness.

Also, when taking a selfie with your arm extended, tapping the button with your thumb can be difficult. Instead, use your finger to take your photograph.

Photography Tips Blog Volume Buttons

Photography Tip 8 – Use Your Surroundings

Using all of the previous tips, use your environment to help assist your photography. Try to create a foreground, middle ground and background for your photos. An example of this would be to use a leaves hanging from a tree or a park bench as your foreground, something close to the camera. Have your subject as your middle ground so a person or building. Lastly, use clouds in the sky or mountains in the distance as your background. This creates depth in your image which is visually pleasing to the eye.

Even using just two of these can help your photography a lot. Just look around and see what you can use before shooting.

Photography Tips Blog Use Surroundings


These are my 8 photography tips for taking better iPhone photos, I hope you found them helpful. These are just the basics you need in order to take some outstanding images even on a smart phone.

Bring your phone low to the ground and close to objects in your surroundings and experiment with different ideas you have during shooting. Just keep shooting and review what you got later. I’m always surprised looking back on certain images that at the time didn’t seem like much but I end up sharing.

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Blog written by

dara coyne upload media headshot

Dara Coyne

Creative Director