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3 Ways To Take Better iPhone Photos

A few quick tips (and apps) that may improve your mobile photography, from Adam Bronkhorst’s new book on the topic.

As smartphones (and their apps) become increasingly sophisticated, point-and-shoot cameras are no longer a shutterbug’s best friend. And with new technology comes new obsessive tricks—like these from Adam Bronkhorst’s new book, SnApp Shots: How to Take Great Pictures With Smartphones and Apps.

1. Fake a better lens: The lens on the iPhone is only 5 mm wide, compared with 10 times that on a DSLR. With no optical zoom, blowing up photos means quickly degrading the image quality. Apps like AutoStitch and Pano allow you to piece together panoramic shots.

2. Lighten up: Your phone’s built-in flash likely turns your subject into an overexposed paste face. Cover the flash with paper to soften the effect, or cast a different color: The Hipstamatic app can change the flash to any color of the rainbow.

3. Tilt it: For a more mature- looking trick, try the app TiltShift. When shot from above, the subject of the image appears in razor-sharp focus, while its surroundings appear soft, out of focus, and slightly blurred.

Illustrations by Peter Sucheski.

A version of this article appears in the May 2012 issue of Fast Company.

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  • Tim Jacobs

    Why not use the volume-up button to snap your pics?  That way you can hold the camera nice and steady in your left hand and take fine shots with one hand--it's much better than trying to stay steady and focused while looking at your composition AND searching for the screen's shutter-button (too distracting).  Using the volume-up button allows for total concentration on your composition because the button is tactile, of course, and you've always got your thumb on it.

  • Abdul Cader

    haha, i agree with steve johnson!

    i'm sorry Peter Sucheski, i loved your illustrations but found some flaws too..

    illustration-1: each photo needs to have a common subject at least in the corners, so that it will match with one another to form panorama.

    illustration-2: he is obviously covering the lens, not the flash.

    illustration-3: iphone camera's focal point system always leave the subject &
    background in focus, only SLR can make the subject in focus & leave
    the background out focused. The 'Tilt-Shift' can make some point in the
    photograph focused & leave rest of the place blurred, not like this
    illustration; train in focus & the immediate background blurred
    (bottom of the mountain & water)

  • Craig Iskowitz

    The tip to cover the flash isn't practical since it's so close to the lens, you'll probably wind up covering it half the time as well. Just. Turn the flash off! It's useless. It's the only major flaw on the iPhone.

  • johncoryat

    This most obvious way to take better pictures with a camera phone (of any kind) is to first:


    How many times have you seen cloudy results from a camera phone? Wiping off the dirt and finger prints from the lens before using it makes a world of difference.

  • Oliver Lang

    Agreed, apps like ProCamera and 645 Pro are under-publicized despite turning your mobile phone (iPhone) into a capable photographic device.

  • Oliver Lang

    Yes, this is amateur.

    Apps that change the colour of the flash and tilt shift tricks are in no way going to make your mobile photos "better".

    If you want to take a better photo with a mobile phone, get the exposure right, compose an interesting shot and don't ever ever use the flash. Ever.

  • Steve Johnson

    Are you serious that you don't think that anyone who owns an iPhone isn't already hyper-aware of these "tricks of the trade"? Next thing, you might suggest sharing photos via Instagram?