The Orange Slate

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Take Better Snapshots: Inspiration for your iPhone Photography.

October 29, 2013

better iphone photos


Let’s chat for a few minutes about photography. No, not complicated/expensive/professional/wowalloftheirpictureslooksoperfect photography. Your photography. Regular photography. Everyday photography.  The stuff of our Iphones and Instagrams and Mom-look-what-I-was-able-to-bake-this-is-so-totally-important kind of pictures.

If you take a lot of pictures, you know that, after a while, a lot of your pictures start to look the same. And a lot of them are just mediocre. They’re dark or blurry or a weird shade of green. If you don’t take a lot of pictures, chances are that you are just bored with your past outcomes. Or you’re intimidated by all of those other people who seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to cameras and who somehow can even take a really good picture with their phone.

Either way, you’re sick of all of your pictures looking the same and taking pictures and looking at the pictures later is no fun because they are just blah. And no, thank you very much, you don’t want to spend more money on another camera or an editing program.


But the absence of your pictures is a tragedy. Our photos, like our journals, tell the stories of our lives. And creative everyday photography isn’t complicated and definitely isn’t only for professionals (I’m certainly not a pro!).

So let’s inject some basic strategy and a little bit of creativity into everyday Iphone photography, shall we? (By the way, if you’re looking for a system for your memory-keeping, I highly recommend this one! I’m obssessed.)

1. Light

See that little blinking box that appears when you touch the screen of your iPhone? That box is your friend. Touch a dark area (like a very dark piece of clothing or a shadow) and the picture will magically lighten. Touch a very light area (like a white spot on a wall) and it will darken. Touch a medium-shaded area and the picture will lighten or darken a little bit.

Why is this important? Well, first of all, most rookies can solve a lot of their problems simply by giving their photos more exposure (or more light). A lot of pictures (especially pictures taken on a phone) can be improved simply by providing the image with more light.


2. Flash

In the upper right-hand corner of your iPhone or other-phone camera, there is a little lightning bolt. This is the flash option. I have a  Really Big Life-Changing Secret For You. Ready for it? Ok. Turn. That. Off. If you are depending on that little phone’s lightbulb to give you the lighting you need for a picture, the picture is already in the Photography Graveyard. Once in a blue moon, like when I am taking pictures outside at night (which is definitely not the iPhone’s ideal setting), I will turn my flash. For all of my daytime/indoor/normal/lit/food/everyday life shots, I leave it off. (Not Auto. O.F.F.)

3. A Timer

Now for a bit of fun. All of those awkward blurry selfies? I’m about to show you a work-around. Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn’t have a dedicated camera timer. But Camera+ does, for a mere 0.99. One of my favorite go-to photography apps, Camera+ gives you all sorts of new tools and options. But one of its best features is the timer.

Here’s what you do:

  • Download the Camera+ app.
  • Touch the gear symbol at the bottom, just to the right of the camera button.
  • Touch the timer symbol, 3rd from the left.
  • Touch the number in the middle of your screen. You can set the timer for 5, 15, or 30 seconds.
  • Put your phone somewhere where it will stand up straight; take a few test shots of the space to make sure you are happy with the lighting, distance, background, etc.
  • Start taking new pictures!

Editor’s Note: NOW the iPhone also has a timer feature!


4. Be a journalist, not a photographer.

Breaking news: Every pictures does not need to involve well-dressed people looking at the camera and smiling for the picture to happen. Get creative. Take pictures of people when they aren’t looking at the camera – and when they don’t know you’re taking pictures. Take pictures of people doing things. Think like a journalist – who, what, when, where, and why (the blog associated with this shop has great inspiration for doing this!).

Take pictures of the area around the person or focus on what they are doing or producing rather than their face. Take pictures of place in your home that are special or memorable or meaningful. Try to snap moments where interactions are happening between people – a conversation, or a game, or a serious moment.

5. Edit. Then edit some more.

Edit with your eye while you are getting ready to shoot the picture. Is there a lot of clutter in the background? Move it. Is there some really ugly color contrast or some light issue? Fix it before you take the picture. Taking the time to adjust the lighting (often simply by opening windows, moving around, or turning on or off background lighting) will drastically improve  your final outcome will be.

Once you’ve taken a picture that you like, learn by experimenting! Don’t be afraid to try out photo apps. Even if you’re simply uploading the picture to Facebook, try out some of the filters that the Facebook upload feature offers. If the colors in a shot are off or clash, make the photo black and white. Play with the contrast options available in your favorite photo editing app.

Most of us don’t only take pictures on our phone. I don’t have one of those fancy smancy professional Nikons but I do have a Canon Powershot and I am totally head-over-heels in love with it. This little remote is also a fantastic tool. Maybe you do have one of those beautiful big photography giants – but you suspect you’re not really getting everything out of it that is available.

Yes, it’s totally true that you can take much better pictures with a regular camera than with an iPhone. But if you can improve your iPhone pictures, chances are that your outcomes with other photography will also improve. Spend the next few days playing with your phone photography.

And stay tuned. Because next, we’re talking about how to decode all of those fancy options on your digital camera.

If this was helpful, check out all of these other posts about photography.

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    1. Michele, *LIFE* changing. Seriously. It’s so great. I am totally expecting to see timer-pics of you working now!

  1. I love Camera+ and use it for all my iPhone photos but had NO IDEA about the timer! Can’t wait to try it out!

    1. Lisa,
      *Life-CHANGING*. Seriously. It’s so much fun. P.s. I love the picture that you posted of the kids in your rearview mirror!

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