How to take better pictures with your iPhone - Tips and Tricks!

My journey with using an iPhone started years ago with an iPhone 4 when I was still a student at Stanford. Right after I purchased the phone, Instagram was born, and since then the two have been my close companions in my photography journey. However, two things have changed over  the last few years - iPhone cameras have simply become phenomenal with each new upgrade (I am currently using an iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X), and I've now even started using the device for taking pictures for photo assignments as well as making videos.

Holi with iPhone

Having been a user of an iPhone for years, especially for photography, I do have some tips and tricks which help me take photography to the next level. If you are planning to take your photography to another level too, this is a guide for you too. For ease of use, I have broken down my tips into three key categories:

General iPhonography tips

Here are some simple tips for using an iPhone for everyday photography. I use them all also for most of my travel photography as well, apart from simple video making.

  1. Never zoom! There is a 2x mode on the iPhone X, 8 Plus and 7 Plus - use this optical zoom to get closer to the subject. When you pinch and zoom, it's only a digital zoom and the quality deteriorates significantly.
  2. Use both hands to hold the phone and then take pictures, videos and so on.
  3. Shoot in RAW - this is essential if you really want to use the iPhone camera's full capability. Unfortunately, you can't do it through the native camera, but there are many others which can do it for you - Snapseed, Lightroom, ProCamera and so on.
  4. If using the native camera, control exposure and lock it too. You can create silhouette or overexpose based on how you plan to set the mood. Some of it can also be controlled in post-production.
  5. Edit using a professional software like mobile Lightroom. Some free ones like Snapseed are also great and allow it also allows editing RAW images.
  6. Skip the filters while clicking - you can apply them later, or create your own unique edit. If you really have to use the filters using an app called VSCO. The good ones are paid, but buying some of these is actually worth it.
  7. Change perspective - don't just shoot at eye level, get down and dirty as well. I especially love the small reflections on the puddle and a mobile device allows you to get really close to the ground to click them.
  8. Chase the light - the number one crateria for getting a good shot is to get the right
  9. Portrait mode - it's not just for portraits but generally to create some awesome depth of field in your shots. I use it often for food as well as a sometimes even for nature photography. Now that portrait mode is also available on the front camera, you can also make some awesome selfies :)
  10. Clean the lens - humidity and dust can make the images look blurry sometimes, just a simply wipe with a cloth will help.

Low-light iPhonography

From the time I used my first iPhone (it was a 4) to now, the cameras have changed and improved dramatically. Now it's possible to not just take stunning low light pictures, even portraits in low light have become a reality.

  1. Go manual - take control of your settings, keep ISO low and try out long exposure shots. Download and use ProCamera for this full control.
  2. Shoot at the right time of the day - be ready before the golden hour (both morning and evening)
  3. Use environmental light - a street lamp, light from a shop - make sure your subject is well lit
  4. Use a mobile tripod - manfrotto is what I use. If you don't yet have a tripod, make a contraption - just make sure it's stable and your hand isn't touching it
  5. Take picture on timer mode or by using a hardware shutter like the volume button the iPhone headphones
  6. Use multi-burst mode - often one picture will have less shake than others
  7. Don't be scared of using the latest iPhoneX flash - the results can be pretty impressive!
  8. Carry additional light, strobes - I simply use the flash light from my second iPhone to light up my subject sometimes
  9. Understand limitations of your camera - though an iPhone excels at taking low light pictures, there are some scenarios where it won't work - that's precisely why we have a new and better camera every year. Understand what your camera can't do and make peace with it!

iPhone and Indian festivals!

There are two Indian festivals which I simply love clicking with my iPhone - Diwali and Holi. Diwali is celebrated after sunset and all the tips above on shooting in low light will be useful there.

However, Holi is a beast which needs to be tamed a bit differently. If you have an old iPhone I wouldn't recommend going out in the streets and taking pictures in colors and water, but with iPhoneX's rating of IP67, it;'s no longer a risk.

Mathura Holi celebrations procession 2015 colors gulal red yellow kids children playing
Kids throwing colors from the vehicle (shot on iPhone)

Here's a video I made with the phone :)

Here are a few suggestions to make sure you get some cool shots!

  1. Use the portrait mode - it will help you bring out the colours of Holi and make them stand out like never before! I love taking pictures of those colorful faces and now it's thankfully easy and risk-free.
  2. Make slo-mo videos - these are my favourite for Holi. Capture the moment when people throw colors in this mode and you will love the results.
  3. Multi-burst - things happen really fast and to get shots of colors frozen in air, use the mode.
  4. Keep the lens clean - use a clean cloth to clean the lens after every few shots. Both color and water on the lens can give you blurred shots.
  5. And finally, after your are done with the shoot give your device time to dry up well. It will be ready to shoot again within minutes!

That's all for now! If you have further questions about shooting with an iPhone, leave a comment and I will try and solve your problem :)


  1. Loved the post. Very useful tips for mobile (iphone) photography. Thanks for sharing :) I used Redmi4 for mobile photography.

    1. Thanks Rupam! You do a great job with mobile photography as well :)

  2. The article is really helpful to me as i also have an iphone x

  3. Really helpful!!
    Thank You for this comprehensive guide!!!

  4. These are great tips! Especially about shooting in RAW- I have to remember to do that more, since it defaults to normal and I always forget to change it.

  5. Fantastic tips here but I don't own a iphone (and very unlikely too). However love taking photos from my Samsung and if playing about with the settings, I find something new, like a new setting etc to enhance the photos. But great guide for the iphone users out there :)

  6. We don't have an IPhone, unfortunately we have a cheap old HTC. Your tips are still relevant and useful though. We shoot our photos with a Cannon DSLR and we still have to pay close attention to the lighting.

  7. I don't have an iPhone but some of your photos make me tempted to get one. I suspect I won't though and next upgrade I will get the microsoft Pixar. Your tips are definitely transferable though - especially the one about zooming!

  8. Super tips, I recently let go of my iphone but these tips are totally relevant for other phones too. Your Holi picks are sensational, I can see how your tips were incorporated into these shots. Thanks for the inspiration to constantly improve our photos!

  9. I absolutely agree with you on the no zoom thing. When I first got my phone, I tried using it like my semi DSLR and zoom into things and boy, was it disastrous. The multi burst mode is really useful as well. At least one of the shots work!

  10. Such a great article. Nearly the exact same advice I give for using my Samsung S8 to take photos. It's incredible how they can be made to look almost as good as an expensive DSLR, and a lot of people can't tell the difference. Btw, I think #8 above is incomplete.

  11. Thanks for sharing these useful tips.I will definitely use next time when i will do photography.


Post a Comment