When I first started my food blog and began posting my recipe photos to Instagram, the most common questions I received were not on the recipes, but on my photography. People would ask what type of camera and equipment I was using, where I earned my photography degree, and if I was available to shoot events.
But the truth is, I don't own any fancy equipment, I don't have a photography degree, and I had never done any sort of professional photography before in my life.
Oh, and the whole camera thing? I don't even own a digital camera.
I TAKE ALL OF MY PHOTOS WITH MY iPHONE
And to be completely honest, I edit them all with my iPhone too. Even though I'm a graphic designer and know my way around Photoshop, I absolutely love the ease and convenience of using my phone.
Today we're covering seven actionable things you can do to boost your iPhoneography right now. And if you want to take it a step further, I've created a free 5 day e-mail course that provides in-depth lessons on each of the tips covered below.
7 Actionable Tips to Boost Your iPhoneography Game
1. Natural lighting is your best friend
I know, I know. This is one of those basic rules that everyone always says in these kinds of posts. But it’s SO true. Using natural light allows you to take photos with colors that are brighter and more white than photos taken under your normal house lighting, which usually has a yellow tint. Starting off with correctly lit photographs helps make editing a lot easier later on.
Taken with overhead indoor lighting
Taken with natural light next to a window
Notice in the images above that the natural sunlight coming from an angle creates shadows across the surface of the pizza, showing depth and texture.
Take Action: Create a DIY sunlight map of your space. Make notes of the times that your space receives the best light and the quality and source of the light you receive (directly overhead, ambient but not too bright, bouncing off your neighbors car, etc.). Do this for a week each season and you’ll know exactly when you have the best lighting available to you.
2. Steer clear of the native Camera app
Seriously. There are tons of free (and paid) apps that offer advanced features for better control over your photos. Again, starting off with better photos will make editing a lot easier.
Take Action: Sign up for “iPhoneography Basics for Bloggers” for a full lesson on selecting the best editing app for you, plus the exact apps and processes I use to edit my photos!
3. Pay attention to details
We’ve all seen the bedroom mirror selfies with the streaks on the mirror and piles of dirty clothes on the floor. And we all know that no one is really paying attention to that new haircut or outfit. People pay attention to those things. Be sure to move all clutter out of the frame, give the countertop a quick dusting and straighten those picture frames in the background.
Take Action: Go through your recent photos and look to see if there are any details you missed. Now make a mental note to fix those things before you snap that next picture! If you batch your photography tasks, try to schedule your photo shoots right after you clean/tidy up each week. That way you know your space will be clean and ready to go when you start taking photos.
4. Use the grid
You know those lines all across your camera screen? That’s the grid. Make it your best friend (along with Natural Lighting in #1). It goes off of the Rule of Thirds and helps you create dynamic, interesting photos.
Take Action: Experiment with negative space by just filling the bottom 1/3 of the frame, or create more visual flow by hitting the four “sweet spots” where the grid lines intersect.
5. Edit wisely
Remember when Instagram first came out and people were putting dark filters over grainy bar photos and vignetting all over the place? Don’t be that guy. Experiment with different filters from various editing apps, and find one (or a combination!) that works well with your own visual branding & aesthetic, but doesn’t leave your photos too dark, grainy, over saturated, etc.
Take Action: Use an app like Afterlight or A Color Story to experiment with different filters and effects. Both apps allow you to create your own customer filter combinations and save them for later use!
You know the saying “practice makes perfect”? Experimentation is practice, too! Don’t be afraid to take out your phone when you feel inspired or see something interesting, and experiment with capturing it from different angles or in various types of lighting. The more you experiment, the more you will begin to find your own unique photography style and what works best for you.
Take Action: Challenge yourself to take at least one photo every day and give yourself permission to experiment! You can even join a challenge like the 100 Day Project for an extra push of motivation and burst of inspiration from others challenging themselves to create a consistent habit.
7. Wipe off your lens!
This is the single most important thing you can do to consistently take the best photos possible with your iPhone, or any camera. If your iPhone is anything like mine, it spends a lot of time in my pocket or at the bottom of my bag, picking up lint and random specks along the way even if it’s protected by a case. Be sure to use a soft cloth that won’t scratch the lens.
Take Action: Find a soft cloth that you can keep handy in your bag or purse to clean your screen before your next photo shoot!