For a while now people have been asking me for iphone photo tips, and I kept putting it off and putting it off so that I could format it into a post that would be the record-breaking best shit to ever be repinned on pinterest and then I’d see 5 or 10 ‘Instagram Tips!’ posts already out there and shrug my shoulders, because what the hell could I have to add to that?
Uh… well wow. All this, I guess.
Embarrassing confession: I don’t use my DSLR anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Nikon, but ever since I discovered I can get brilliant, fast, really fun images from the phone I already carry in my pocket 24 hours a day, well… game over man, game over.
It’s taken trial and error and a whole lot of practice, but I’ve gotten to a place where I’m head-over-heels in love with the pictures I’m getting just my phone – and really, I’m not doing anything especially special that everyone else can’t do too.
Here are my best tips, from the very basics to the apps I can’t live without. You can do this, guys. Not every picture needs to be a masterpiece but every picture can be in focus.
Let’s start with the easy stuff, the things that should be obvious but based on the average photostream, well… aren’t. Everybody who picks up a camera, even to take a picture of a poop on the floor, should know 4 simple photography basics:
1. Stand still
No, seriously. I’m not really sure what’s happening, is your phone inside a cloudy plastic bag underwater? Are you currently jumping up and down? Is your hand made of bees?
Hold your phone/camera with two hands and rest your elbows against your torso to increase your hand stability. Lean against a nearby wall or chair. The nicer your camera the easier it is to get a tack-sharp image BUT, even the older models can get fine results if you’re careful. Some people are born with a smooth, steady hand and some of us have to work at it. Stop walking, stand still, concentrate.
2. Look for the light
So you’ve got yourself still, the second part is getting your subject still. Since most of us are trying to snap shots of kids/pets/people it’s not always possible to get your subject to cooperate and stop wiggling around. Good news! With some trial and error your camera can capture things in motion! Your wildest dreams are coming true!
Having a “nice” camera can help, but picking up a DSLR that you don’t know how to use isn’t going to magically solve all your problems. You can get equally effective results with a snap-and-go camera IF you know how to work with your camera’s strengths.
The most important factor to combat subject blur is light. The brighter the light, the better your shutter will be able to stop the motion:
Toddler walking in dim living room = difficult, blurry
Dogs running full-speed in bright daytime at the park = BAM! crispy
If you want sharper, less blurry pictures move to a place with good, natural lighting. Period.
Especially with the limited settings on a phone camera it’s really the only option you have to instantly improve the quality and combat shutter lag. If you really really need to capture your kid booping around the living room at 9pm go for it, but know ahead of time that you’re going to compromise your picture.
(The exact reason you won’t find many pictures taken in our very low-light living room. I don’t bother because I know I won’t be happy with the results.)
Not only does good light help your picture stay in focus, it also makes the image more interesting. Finding good light is sometimes more critical than finding something interesting to take a picture of (or even amounts to the same thing). Some of the least dynamic images are ones with flat, even lighting or a big, unnatural spot flash that washes out the subject. Unless you’re rocking the #flashclub or you’re getting fancy with bounce cards, your camera’s flash is not doing you any favors.