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Tips For Taking Better Photos With Your iPhone

Posted by Jen King on 7/18/16 11:03 AM

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Just because you love photography or want to have an amazing Instagram feed doesn't mean you can afford those nice cameras, especially for starving college students. That's just fine though because guess what, you can still pull it off with your phone. 

Smart phones are so smart these days. Your iPhone camera is probably more advanced than you realize! Whenever people ask me for camera recommendations, I actually never recommend those affordable point-and-shoot cameras because chances are your phone already does just as good of a job. 

If your budget is more flexible, check out all your options because you really do get what you pay for when it comes to cameras. Here's some camera comparisons to help you, especially if you're choosing which is the best camera to bring with you while you travel the world.

But if you're budget is a bit smaller...stick with your iPhone and forget about buying a camera. Seriously. There's actually AMAZING photographers out there that choose to only use their phone to shoot with. There's even awards that are given out for iPhone photography. It's a whole thing. 

Tips for taking better iPhone photos:

Use the grid

Because we snap photos so frequently, we get careless and it's easy to not stop to line up your photo. Pretty quickly your horizons are going to be anything but straight (unless that's the look you're going for). Pay attention to the grid to help line up your photos. Switch on your gridlines by going to Settings - Photos & Camera.

If you realize afterwards that your photo is not alligned, you can still line it up how you like. When viewing your photo in the photo app, click on edit, choose the crop button, and then slide your finger back and forth on the dial. Just know that you'll have to crop part of your photo to do this.

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Don't zoom in

You'll lose an incredible amount of quality really fast everytime you zoom. iPhones are really not meant for long distance (no surprise there). Move your feet and get closer if you can.

Turn off live photos

Do you know about the live photos feature? Typically this feature is automatically turned on, so you might have noticed it but maybe not really sure how to use it. It essentially puts together about a 1-2 second video of the photo that you take and sometimes can give you good results. If you're taking a live action shot like of a moving train, try the live photo. But if you're just taking a still snapshot, it's better to turn the live feature off. When you're about to take a photo, it's the yellow circle icon. Just click on it - it will become white and say "LIVE OFF".

Turn off the flash

Another feature to not use - your flash. Obviously if you have a moment you can't lose and it's dark, you're going to want it...but if you're looking to create a beautiful photo you need natural lighting and zero flash. Flashes always wash out your image.

Play around with lenses

You can actually clip a small, lightweight lens right onto your phone and get effects similar to that of a larger camera's lens.  Pretty amazing. Macro, wide angle, fish eye, etc.  You can find pretty affordable lenses on Amazon and you can also find higher quality ones as well. We found this post that has some reviews on lenses.

On this photo (below) I clipped a wide angle lens on my iPhone 6. It distorted the horizon, but I was able to get a much larger scope of scenery than if it was just my phone. Play around with it.

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Don't edit in Photos.

Your iPhone's Photos app isn't the best place to edit your photos. You're better off using another app. Honestly, I don't love Instagram's editor either.  You know when you see a beautiful Instagram feed and you're really wishing you could take photos like that? I would bet you a lot of money that they are not using Instagram filters.

The secret is that most famous Instagramers shoot their photos, edit them with more advanced editing software, and then upload that finished image as is to Instagram.  There are more and more ways to edit directly from your mobile now though instead of your desktop which is really convenient. If you're really invested in beautiful editing, you should first consider using Adobe's Photoshop apps.  Another great photo editing app you could play around with is VSCO.


Good luck! If you're going on an international trip, using your phone as your camera is a great way to save space. If you're looking for more camera options that are good for a trip though, here's some suggestions for the best camera to pack.

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 You gotta go to Thailand to take a great photo like this one! Learn about volunteering and spending a semester in Thailand with ILP by clicking below.

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Topics: Semester Preparation, Travel Tips

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Over the years of assisting more than 6,000 volunteers in their desire to travel and make a difference in the lives of others, ILP has seen what works and what doesn't.

We've gathered our tips here for making your semester abroad a successful one.

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