7 steps for perfect iphone photos (#4 will amaze you)

You, yes, you, can take amazing photographs with your iPhone. Not just sometimes, when the stars align and conditions are perfect, but all the time, every time and, with the pointers and simple hacks I’ll show you below, even in a terribly lit location. The examples below use a *really* poorly lit room: no overhead lighting and practically no natural light. The only light sources are two standing lamps. Here, I’ll show you how, with just a little bit of know-how and editing, you can capture professional-grade images.

1. Choose your location.

This is a photographer's nightmare. Terrible lighting!

This is a photographer’s nightmare. Terrible lighting!

If you’re shooting indoors, try shooting in an area that doesn’t have too much in the background; the simpler, the better. A well-decorated Christmas tree, garland on the steps, or fireplace with a great mantel piece each provide an orderly visual.

2. Assess and enhance your lighting.

If it’s poorly lit, see if there are lights you can work with. Turn on any overhead lights to make the area as bright as possible. If this isn’t possible, have someone stand behind you with their phone in “flashlight” mode. You can access this app on your lock screen by swiping up from the bottom. This is a great flash alternative and will give you more light to worth with.

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Since I was shooting by myself, I wasn’t able to have an assistant helping with lighting. All the photographs in this post were taken without flash. To achieve well-lit photographs in a poorly lit room make sure there is some type of light source facing your subject matter. I chose to have one light source behind the subject and one behind me.

3. Steady yourself.
You want your images to be as sharp as possible. Use both hands and a prop to help your balance. Try putting a chair under your arm or lean against a friend or wall. When I’m shooting a wedding in low lighting situations I have my second shooter stand next to me. I put my elbow on their shoulder and lean into them using their body as a tripod. It’s a great little photo hack that will help your images turn out crisp and focused.

4. Find your exposure.

Remember having to decide whether to put 400 or 100 film in your 35mm camera? OK, I am sure many of you have no idea what I am talking about – but exposure is a term from the days of shutter photography. Essentially, you are telling your iPhone how much light to take in when capturing an image by literally tapping an area of the screen. In the video above, you can easily see the difference — watch when I tap the sofa versus when I tap Shelby’s nose. Dramatic, right? While finding your exposure may take a few tries, it is most certainly worth the effort. Once you found the area to which you want the exposure adjusted, hold your finger down until the square bounces twice. This will lock your exposure.

5. Try different angles.


Know that when shooting portraits, you should try to shoot your subject straight on or from above, never from below. Shooting from below will add weight and *usually* give an unflattering shape. Of course, there are times to break this rule, but it applies 80 percent of the time.

6. Never, ever, ever use the iPhone built-in zoom.
This is a sure way to have terrible photos. If you need to “zoom” just step closer to your subject.

7. Download a photo editing application.

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I use Camera plus (camera+). It’s a great way to fix exposure, vibrancy, and includes some great filters.

The Results

iPhone compared to professional camera. Both images are edited.

iPhone compared to professional camera. Both images are edited.

Sounds like a ton of steps for just one shot of your mom and sister right? Trust me, once you do this a few times you’ll get the hang and won’t even think about these steps. If you stick to this guide, your images will look crisp, clean and yes, it is even possible to get professional quality images with your iPhone.

*When not to substitute iPhone photography for the real thing: event photography, weddings, engagement photos and headshots. I promise you, if you do not hire a professional for these images you will regret it.

In need of a professional photographer? Reach out to me at my website or email, I would love to work with you!

  • The latest from Sarah
Owner + Photographer | Sarah Marcella Creative
I started photographing after rupturing my spleen while I was in high school. Yeah, it sounds made up, but I swear I’m telling the truth. was in marching band and happened to fall on my saxophone. This incident made it impossible for me to march for the remainder of the season. So, I did what any bored high school teenager does — started taking self portraits (at that time the word “selfie” was not invented). Turns out, I really enjoyed it! I started photographing everything and everyone. After graduation, I decided to head to Shepherd University for photography & digital imagery. My passion continued to grow as I started to photograph more conceptual themes, primarily the way women are viewed in modern media and the over editing that happens in the fashion industry. This is what has influenced and inspired my current work.

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