The 3 Most Important Elements of iPhone Photography

By Lexie Pitzen | Photo: Lexie Pitzen

When my DSLR camera and I first met after a highly-anticipated Black Friday sale and months of planning, I fell in love with it instantly. In the months following, I learned about the technical and creative sides of photography, and I’ve since taken thousands of photos for personal enjoyment as well as for professional use. However, as much as I adore DSLR photography, sometimes my iPhone camera is more practical. For a quick but put-together Instagram shot, I’ve learned which elements to pay attention to while taking and editing iPhone photos. Here they are.

Depth of field — For many people, the biggest draw to DSLR photography is the shallow depth of field—that beautiful, blurred-out background—produced by adjusting the camera’s aperture. Newer iPhones mimic this with Portrait Mode, but even iPhone users with older models can achieve the same effect by blurring the background with free, user-friendly apps like Picsart. This editing trick instantly makes photos look cleaner and more professional.

Composition — Carefully crafting photo composition makes a huge difference in presentation. Following the rule of thirds, for example, creates aesthetically-pleasing images by positioning subjects in locations within the frame where the human eye naturally falls. The easiest way to do this is to show gridlines dividing the image into thirds and placing subjects along the lines. Another particularly Instagram-friendly composition is simply filling the frame; it looks focused and balanced with a square crop.

Lighting — Lighting is crucial in iPhone photography. For the most visually appealing images, try to take photos where there is soft lighting; iPhones process harsh midday light very poorly. The softest lighting is in the hours after sunrise or before sunset and creates beautiful, glowing photos. Or for a unique, eye-catching shot, try manipulating lighting. Colored lighting, even produced by the screen of your laptop, can produce interesting portraits and take your Instagram feed to a new level.

Even without an expensive camera, you can improve your photography using only an iPhone camera. By focusing on these three elements, your photos will mimic the classic DSLR look and appear more professional and attractive to the eye.

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