How to Improve your iPhone Photography

How often are you out and about on the weekend or during the day and come across the perfect photo opportunity? Thankfully, most of us keep our smart phones on us all the time and the iPhone camera just keeps getting better.

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While there’s no real substitute for the quality of a DSLR camera, iPhones work just fine in a pinch and today we wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for getting stunning photos on your phone.

Our best tips for improving your iPhone photography and our favorite photo editing apps for iPhone


For the most part, a lot of the lighting rules that apply to DSLR photography will apply here. When looking for a good spot to snap a photo, look for an area that’s well-lit, but not in direct sunlight. Soft, natural light is best and whenever you can, avoid artificial lighting. It simply doesn’t look as good! Oh, and the hand trick works perfectly for iPhone photography too!

Outdoors: If you’re outdoors on a sunny day, look for shade from a tree or building that will block out direct light that creates harsh shadows. The very best light is in the shade across from a neutral colored wall that’s getting hit with direct light. The light bounces off that wall onto you providing a gorgeous glow! On an overcast day, you won’t have to worry, but colors will not be as naturally vibrant.

Indoors: If you’re inside, the best lighting is near a window that’s getting soft light. You might notice that there are harsher shadows which can create beautiful moody photos. If you’d like the light to be more even, grab a white poster board or art board and set it up on the other side of your subject to bounce light back and create more even lighting.

Nighttime: If you can, avoid using your iPhone at night. The technology is good, but the less light you have, the grainier and blurrier your photos will be. This can sometimes create a really unique look, but for the most part, most of us are going to want clear, crisp images, so avoid nighttime photography!

Flash and Artificial Light: This is fine for photos that you’re taking on the fly or for simple memories, but if you’re planning on using them on your blog or social platforms, avoid using a flash or artificial lighting! Unfortunately, they just don’t look very professional.

Framing & Composition

Again, the same rules that apply to DSLR photography apply to iPhone photography. When framing a subject, think about your composition. Does it look balanced? Do you have enough white space? If you’re not familiar with the rule of thirds, you should learn it! It’s a simple way to think about composition and thankfully the grid on our phone’s camera makes it easy!


Yes, the cameras in our phones are pretty good, but a little editing never hurt! It’ll take your photos from good to great. Let me start by saying there are tons of photo editing apps in the app store, so feel free to play around and find what works best for you. These are just my favorites and what I actually use to edit my photos for Instagram and Insta Stories.

Snapseed: This is a Google app and is how I start editing all of my photos. I like the fine-tune control that I haver over things like sharpening, structure, color, contrast and saturation. When editing on your phone, make sure your brightness is turned all the way up so you’re editing accurately.



For this example, I’m starting with a well-lit photo. I start with ‘Details’ and bring ‘Structure’ to 20 and ‘Sharpening’ to 30. Next, I hit ‘Tune Image’ and up the brightness, contrast and saturation until looks brighter and pops more. If necessary, I’ll play with the shadows and warmth. Go easy on these though because they can be very obvious when you use them heavily. When I’m finished, I hit ‘Save’ and then ‘Modify’ and then open in VSCO.

VSCO: I love VSCO and technically you can make all the above changes in here, but I find that I have more control when I’m using Snapseed for those things. After I import my Snapseed-edited photo into VSCO, I apply a filter and make any last minute changes.



There are so many different free filters, but I actually use one that I purchased called C2. Thankfully, they’re cheap! It’s rare that I use the filter at it’s full-strength, but it’s up to you. I typically go about half way down, or whatever looks good—every photo will look a bit different, so change accordingly. Once I’m finished, I hit import. Now my photo is ready to post any social platforms. If you’re using your photos for your blog. You can simply email your photos to yourself at their actual size to preserve the quality.

Other Editing Apps: Like I mentioned, this is just what I use, but I’ve also heard that Afterlight and A Color Story are both great!

What other iPhone photography tips do you have? Any other editing apps you love? Please share, I’d love to hear!

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I'm Blair Staky—I help women turn their blogs into thriving businesses by sharing my secrets to growing a 6-figure blog. I'm so glad you're here!

Leave a Comment

  1. 8.10.17

    Wow…! lol…I feel so stupid but I’m very glad to have read this post. I don’t have Lightroom and use Snapseed for everything. I just transfer photos from my DSLR to my phone wirelessly and edit with Snapseed. They look great on the phone but when I upload them to the blog they don’t look quite as good as on my phone. I am realizing now that I always have my screen turned down to save battery and I am probably way-over-exposing the photos!! Sheesh…totally didn’t think of that. Anyway…thanks for the tip! 🙂

    More to Mrs. E

  2. 3.16.18
    Preston said:

    Something that improved my photos with my iPhone was phone photography tricks. This guide covers a wide variety of things from beginner to expert, so if you want to increase the quality of your photos check this out.

  3. 3.22.18

    Very useful! I’ve used VSCO before and Lightroom for iOS, and they’re really very good. Thanks for this post!