The 6-step process for taking high-quality iPhone photos
Hey there! Long time no see. If you follow along with me on social media or my email list, you most probably know that I ‘ve been working hard on my new e-course which teaches you how to take high-quality photos on your iPhone to grow your blog and business. The e-course is releasing on Nov 16th and I 've been burning the midnight oil to make sure everything is perfect as it can be. If you'd like to learn more about the course, you can find all the details here. Okay so let's move on!
As a blogger and entrepreneur, I am sure you run into situations every day where you need to take your own photos for Instagram, your next marketing campaign, your blog post or your next product. But how do you take high quality photos easily? You don’t need to be born with a special talent to take high-quality photos. Nor do you need a DSLR that costs $$$$.You can simply use the one device that’s with you always - your iPhone to capture professional photos for your business. And in this post (sit back with a coffee, its a long and good one) , I am going to break the entire process for you in 6 easy steps! Ready?
1. Understand your iPhone camera
The first step to taking photos is to understand the tool in your hand. To shoot great photos with your iPhone, you need to understand how it works first. So lets explore the iPhone camera screen and understand the controls.
As you can see, there are 7 options on the camera screen, let’s explore each of these:
[ Order : Top to bottom – Left to right ]
Camera swap: The iPhone has two cameras, one at the front and another at the rear. The front camera is the one we use for taking selfies, answering video calls, etc. The rear camera, the one on the backside of the camera, is always a better quality one and is more suited to take high quality professional photos. The camera swap button helps you swap between the front and rear cameras of your iPhone. By default it is set to use the rear camera and for all serious photography, I recommend sticking to the rear camera of your iPhone.
Timer: This button helps you set a timer for the photo to be captured. You can choose between 3s or 10s to capture the photo after you click.
HDR: The HDR button stands for High Dynamic Range. Switching it on helps you achieve balanced exposure for your photos in high contrast scenes. This can be set to on, off or auto. In auto HDR mode the camera will decide whether or not to use the setting, based on the light in the scene.
Flash: The last button on the left side is the flash. You can set it to on, off or auto. Flash is used in low light conditions to brighten the scene. I highly recommend keeping it off for better quality pictures.
Camera filters: This button lets you apply filters for your camera. There are a total of 8 preset live view filters which let you see how your photos will look with each of the filters before taking the photo. Just tap to select any filter you like. The filters are great and I personally like the chrome filter a lot. However, when I am taking photos for my blog, I prefer taking my photos without any filters as it gives me much more control in the editing phase as I can start from the scratch.
Shutter: The shutter button is used to click the photo. You can tap it once to capture a scene or you can hold it for longer to take a continuous burst of photos.
Photo preview: In the bottom right corner is the photo preview button which lets you preview the recent pictures you’ve clicked using your camera.
2. Learn to work with light
I recommend using only (and only) natural light for your photos. This is because artificial light adds a color cast to your photos and makes the colors look off and dull. Take a look at the photos below. The left one which was shot in natural light looks more appealing than the one on the right that was shot in indoor lighting. So make sure to shoot during the day time when you can get natural light. Also importantly, make sure to switch off all the lights in the room while taking photos (every single one of them to avoid a color cast in your photos!
So here’s how to create the perfect lighting setup for your photos!
The first step is to find the largest window in your place through which you get day light and set up the scene next to it. So in the image below, the light is coming in through the door on the right and my scene is set up right next to it. If there isn't enough light in the scene, add a reflector. You can place a simple white foam board to reflect back the incoming light and increase the light on the scene. So in the image below, I ve placed a white foam board on the left to bounce the incoming light through the door back onto the scene.
3. Style your photos
Whether you are trying to quickly take a snap of your breakfast for Instagram or you are taking product shots for your online shop, styling is something that comes into play in every photo you click. And although the best way to learn styling is probably through trial and error, here are 2 things that will help you style your photos effectively!
Choose a cohesive color palette:
Styling is not just about arranging pretty things together, but also about doing it in a way that evokes emotion and conveys a message to the viewer. There is no right or wrong way to style photos, but a well styled photo tells a story. I am sure you did not randomly pick out colors from the color wheel while designing for your brand. You probably played around in Photoshop with a mood board as a reference for a while before you chose the colors that aligned with your aesthetic and core brand values. Similarly, using the right colors in photography is just as important in order to invoke the right emotions and feelings in the minds of the viewers.
Using a cohesive color palette for your photos creates a professional appearance and overall strengthens your brand. While styling your photos, use objects with colors that co-ordinate and flow well together. Choose a rough color palette beforehand and make sure to stick with it, this will ensure that all your photos align with your brand and look cohesive. I love the contrasting pastel color palette in this photo below, all the colors blend well with each other and the colored marbled textures stand out perfectly against the plain pink background.
Rule of odds:
The rule of odds says that an image is visually more appealing to the human eye when the image contains an odd number of objects in it. So for example, if you are going to use flowers in your photo, its better to use 3 or 5 or 7 flowers instead of 2 or 4 or 6 flowers. So try to group your props in odd numbers as opposed to even numbers. Of course depending on the context, many times it may not be possible to use an odd number of objects in your photo (Imagine if you are shooting a wedding? 😉 You cant have more than 2 people) But wherever possible, try and group the objects in your photo in odd numbers. The photo below has 3 flowers grouped together and follows the rule of odds.
4. Compose and take the shot
The next step is to figure out the composition. And to make this easy we have the rule of thirds.
The rule of thirds is a simple guideline that helps you create interesting composition for your photos. And it can be broken down into 2 easy steps:
Step 1: Forming The Grid
Imagine your photo as a 3 * 3 grid. So basically 2 equally spaced vertical and horizontal lines resulting in 9 equal parts like the grid below.
Step 2: Placing The Subject
Now, what the Rule of Thirds says is to place the main subject of your photo along the grid lines or at their intersection points. So in the photo below for instance, the plant which is the subject is placed along the left most grid line and at an intersection point as well.
Aligning the subject like this creates more energy and interest in the photo than simply placing the subject at the centre of the photo. Take a look at these two photos side by side. The photo on the left with the rule of thirds applied to it definitely looks more appealing, evokes curiosity and interest in the photo than the one on the right that has the subject right in the centre.
Apply Rule Of Thirds On Your iPhone Camera:
To implement the Rule of thirds on the iPhone, you need to first turn on the grid on your iPhone camera. To do this, go to Phone Settings >> Photos and Camera >> Grid >> Turn on.
5. Edit your iPhone photos
After a lot of research (trust me, I ‘ve tried a lot of them), I ve rounded up on Snapseed and its the one I use for editing most of my iPhone photos. Snapseed is a powerful editing tool with an easy to use interface that can help you largely improve your iPhone photos. Plus its FREE – you can download Snapseed here! Additionally I created a comprehensive guide of the apps and equipment you need to shoot photos on your iPhone camera. You can download it right here.
Where should you begin?
To bring up the editing tools available on Snapseed, you need to click on the little edit icon at the bottom right corner of the screen. That will open up the full gamut of editing tools that you can use to edit your iPhone photos. The three main edits every photo can use is exposure, contrast and saturation.
One of the first steps in editing is to fix the exposure. Exposure refers to how light or dark the photo is. So if the photo is on the darker side, you may want to slightly increase the exposure and vice versa. So select Brush from the toolset on Snapseed, then select the exposure brush, set the value and start brushing your finger over the photo to increase the exposure.
In the photo below, I am increasing the exposure slightly by using the exposure brush feature thats available on Snapseed.
Increasing the contrast helps bring out the colors and tones of the photo. It helps make the whites whiter and the blacks darker which fills life into an otherwise dull photo. To increase the contrast in Snapseed, tap the Tune Image tool, then slide your finger up or down on the image to select the contrast setting. To change the value of contrast, simply swipe your finger left or right on the image and you’ll see the number at the bottom of the screen change.
I am increasing the contrast here to make the beautiful pinks and yellow colors of the petals stand out against the white background.
If you want to intensify the colors of your photo, you need to increase the saturation of the photo. Make sure to not saturate the photo too much as it can look unpleasant and be harsh on the eyes. Again to increase the saturation in Snapseed, tap the Tune Image tool, then slide your finger up or down on the image to select the saturation setting and play around with the value to see what works best.
Here, I am bumping up the saturation to intensify the colors of the petals.
6. Export your photos to use on web
The important thing when it comes to high-quality photos is high resolution. So when you are exporting your photos for your website, you want to maintain the high resolution so they look clear and crisp on all devices. iPhone photos have a minimum resolution resolution of 3264 * 2448px. There are several ways in which resolution can be lost. But one important thing to avoid is zoom.
The zoom function of the iPhone is not optical but digital zoom. So zooming and cropping on the iPhone is the exact same thing, and you are going to end up with a smaller photo with less pixels. So make sure to not use the zoom feature on your iPhone and instead walk closer to your scene.
So that's it. The whole process in this post may seem long, but while taking photos it takes less than 3 - 5 minutes to implement everything. More than anything, it helps you take high-quality photos for your blog and your business in a quick and easy way.
Introducing the iPhone-o-graphy course
I 'll take this opportunity to introduce my new upcoming course - iPhone-o-graphy with you. iPhone-o-graphy is an online e-course to help creatives and small business owners capture high quality photos for their businesses using their iPhone.
Over the past year, I have learned a ton about how to take high-quality photos using the iPhone. I can safely say I have fallen in love with the camera and the art of iPhone photography. A few months ago I shot a photo pack for Creative Convex using the iPhone camera, here is a snapshot of the photos.
Photography is a huge part of growing an online business and I am excited to pass on the skills you need to style, shoot and edit your own photos for your blog, Instagram and business using the iPhone camera.
The new course teaches you the exact techniques you need to take high-quality photos using your iPhone.
I’m going to show you...
- How to unlock the hidden features of your iPhone camera and transform it into a DSLR to capture professional quality photos
- How to take photos that will attract your target audience and build trust
- How to style an everyday scene to create impactful photos
- The exact setup you need to get the perfect amount of lighting for your photos
- My exact step-by-step process for editing photos
- How to get the dreamy blurry background (shallow depth of field) in your photos
- Every tool and technique I know to capture high-quality photos to grow your business
The course is launching in two weeks on Wednesday Nov 16th, wohoo! If you'd like to stay in the loop and learn about the course when it launches, join us by clicking the link below and entering the email address!