iPhone photography expert Adrian McGarry shares his top tips for snapping the perfect shot.
The opportunity to take awesome photos on our smartphones has never been easier. For a great many of us, the camera in our pocket will be an iPhone; the most influential device of the 21st century. I took my first ‘serious’ photo on an iPhone back in 2012. Shortly afterwards it became my preferred image capture device.
I’ve drawn on my long experience of shooting on film cameras and DSLR to benchmark my iPhone photography towards the superior quality associated with those devices.
With each new iPhone, my quest for photographic excellence on a smartphone gets easier to achieve. However, it can be a little tricky to begin with!
Any new skill takes practice and patience to perfect; photography is no exception. As a presenter of lectures and workshops to camera clubs, photographic societies, exhibitions, trade shows and corporate events, I am passionate about motivating others to take the next steps on their image-making journey. I’ve put together my top tips for iPhone photography.
Quickly Access The Camera
Don’t miss picture-perfect moments that happen fast, familiarise yourself with ways to quickly launch the Camera app. The two quickest ways to access the iPhone camera are:
1. Raise or tap Home to wake your iPhone and swipe your finger across the unlock screen from right to left to automatically open the Camera app.
2. With an iPhone X you can also get to the Camera by hard pressing the Camera app on the Lock screen.
A good photograph should engage the viewer through composition. The rule of thirds is a simple principle that involves mentally dividing up your image into horizontal and vertical thirds.
Studies have shown that an off-centre composition is more pleasing to the eyes, looks more natural and maintains interest longer than a centred subject.
When composing your shot, place points of interest on or near the intersections or lines – your photo will be more balanced. The photograph below follows the application of the rule of thirds.
An on-screen grid can be overlaid on the camera capture screen and is a great aid to ensure that your composition is straight and follows the rule of thirds go to > Settings > Camera > Grid and toggle it on.
Tap and Hold To Focus
Getting sharp photos is one of the primary objectives of photography. You can ensure that your subject is in focus with a single tap on the camera app screen.
You can lock the focus by tapping and holding on the screen for a few seconds until you see a yellow box appear around your finger and a yellow banner confirms ‘AE/AF Lock’. This means that you can re-compose your shot whilst waiting for the decisive moment and the focus will remain the same until you tap the shutter release button.
This method also determines the exposure of the shot and allows you to swipe up or down to make the image brighter or darker.
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Capture Photos While Recording
Did you know that you can capture a still image while recording a video?
Tap on the opaque circle on the bottom left of the screen when you are filming in video mode. This will act as a shutter button and does not affect your recording; you’ll have the entire video plus your still shots available in your camera roll.
Capture Movement With Burst Mode
By using the burst mode on your iPhone you will increase your chances of getting a perfectly-timed shot when you’re capturing movement such as sports, dance or children at play.
In burst mode, several photographs are taken in quick succession (10 frames per second), by simply pressing and holding the shutter button. You’ll notice an on-screen counter as you hold down the shutter, indicating the number of images you’ve taken.
In the Photos app, your burst of images will be clustered together and identified as ‘Burst’.
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Experiment with iPhone photography
Never be afraid to experiment with your photography. Allow your creativity to flow – this is what will set your images apart from the rest.
The iPhone is an amazing device for capturing and editing photos. Look for unique angles in your composition, apply filters and create your own style. There is a world full of third party apps that allow advanced creative editing, start exploring what you can achieve.
As your iPhone ages, so does its software. To keep your device running smoothly, Apple issue regular system updates. These software patches fix bugs, increase security and add new features.
Apple has announced a range of new features coming with iOS 13 later this year. I’m particularly excited that the Photos app will be redesigned with enhanced organisation and editing features.
Your iOS device can be set to update automatically. To turn on automatic updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates. Your iOS device will automatically update to the latest version of iOS. For more information check out Apple’s support page.
Most of all, have fun and never lose confidence in your shots.
Adrian McGarry is a UK iPhone Photographer and creative photo artist. He has enjoyed a long career in the creative industry and is a recipient of the Royal Photographic Society’s ARPS distinction.