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Like most moms I know, I spend a lot of time snapping photos of my daughter as she moves from one milestone to the next. Whether I’m capturing a shot of her blowing bubbles in the summer, dressed up as her favorite character on Halloween, unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, or splashing in puddles on an unseasonably warm March day, I feel like I’m forever behind my camera, hoping and praying I’ll get the perfect photograph of her so I can relive each moment for years to come.
Of course, this was a lot easier to do when my daughter was younger, but now that she’s almost 6 and has an opinion about everything, posing for photos isn’t exactly her thing. The mere sight of my DSLR makes her run for the hills these days, and while I wish she was more patient while I adjust my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO during photo shoots, she simply doesn’t have that kind of time for me anymore.
So when I upgraded to an iPhone 7 in October and discovered my new phone has a 12MP camera, I made it my personal mission to master the art of iPhone photography.
Because taking photos on your iPhone allows you to live in the moment.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the quality and control I have when shooting on my DSLR, but I find my photos are much more natural, real, and raw when I’m able to feel all the feels and snap shots on the fly.
So when the folks at Skillshare asked if I would be interested in giving some of their online classes a try and I saw how many photography classes they offer, I decided to hang up my DSLR for a while. My promise to myself in 2017 is to find more balance in my life, and this is the first of many steps I need to make to help make that happen! Skillshare is also offering Meraki Lane readers two free months of Skillshare Premium, so you can enjoy all these photography courses, as well as 15,000 other Skillshare classes for no extra cost.
From mastering the basics of iPhone photography and purchasing portable external lenses, to capitalizing on natural light sources and editing your photos like a pro, this collection of iPhone photography tips will teach you how to take better photos with your smartphone so you can spend more time experiencing – and capturing – life’s little moments.
1. Master the basics of iPhone photography
When I first started learning how to use my DSLR, I found tons of online material that helped me master the basics, and while the principals are the same regardless of what kind of camera you use, seeing it all in action on an iPhone makes a world of difference when it comes to mastering iPhone photography.
Mariya Popandopulo’s course iPhone Photography: Make Your Pictures Stand Out gave me a refresher on things like exposure, lighting, and the rule of thirds, and it also taught me some cool tricks about taking silhouette shots and blurring the background of my photos when using my iPhone.
And while it’s impossible to replicate the kind of quality you get on a DSLR, Mariya has given me a lot of simple tricks to help take my mobile photography to the next level by playing around with different backgrounds, angles, lighting, and shadows.
2. Learn how to see the light
If you want to take stellar photos with your iPhone, one of the first things you want to do is learn how to use lighting to your advantage. Whether you’re snapping photos of your child playing in her bedroom, capturing an awesome sunset, or trying to get a decent action shot of your dog on a sunny summer afternoon, you need to learn how to ‘see’ the light and make it work with you instead of against you.
I’m most interested in learning how to use lighting to enhance my portrait photography since most of my photos are of my daughter, and Mark Timberlake’s course Natural Light Portrait Photography – Take Portraits with Any Camera Anywhere really helped me figure out how to work with hard and soft light when taking photos indoors and outside. He uses a ton of examples throughout his lessons, and while I used to shy away from hard light sources, the examples he uses in his course have completely changed my perspective.
3. Capture the perfect action shot
Have you ever wondered how your favorite Instagrammers take such amazing action shots on their iPhones? Well, I’m about to let you in on a little secret… It’s called Burst Mode, and it will totally change your life. All you need to do is frame the picture you want to take, and than tap and hold the shutter release button on your iPhone camera. This will activate Burst Mode, which is a hidden function that allows you to continuously take 10 photos every second so you can score one (or several) beautiful action shots.
4. Be candid
When my husband and I hired a photographer for our wedding, I only had one requirement: the photos had to be candid. While I wanted to have a few formal group shots, I wanted our wedding album to capture all of the little things that made the day so special. The tears I shed when saying my wedding vows. The peaceful way my niece fell asleep during my father-in-law’s speech. The look on my dad’s face when he realized I was changing my last name… All of those details made the day so special and memorable, and I’m so glad we were able to capture it all on film.
Of course, life has a tendency to be extremely busy, especially when kids are involved, and we sometimes forget to live in the moment when we’re snapping photos of our little ones. We tend to take a bird’s eye view of their lives, and Lutty Moreira’s 14-minute class How to Take Better Family Photos with Your Phone really made me realize that until we get on their level, we can’t possibly experience the world the way our children see it.
I think this idea can – and should – be applied to all areas of photography!
5. Shoot in black and white
Black and white photographs are a timeless classic. By focusing on composition and lighting without the distraction of color, you can capture more emotion and detail, offering a raw look into the subject you’re photographing. You can easily shoot black and white photos directly using your favorite photo app on your iPhone, or you can convert them after the fact using Photoshop. I’m am just starting to learn the ins and outs of this amazing tool, and Stephen Vanasco’s course The Art of Photography: Defining Your Visual Style has really gotten me excited about converting some of my color photos into black and white masterpieces.
6. Edit like a pro
While I love the beauty of unfiltered photos, it is amazing what can be achieved through iPhone editing apps. Whether you want to increase or reduce saturation, add texture, or play with different lighting effects, many photo editing apps will allow you to do this – and more! – with a few simple clicks.
In his course Learn Mobile Photo Editing: Apps for Beauty and Efficiency, Dan Rubin has taught me a ton of stuff about shooting with my iPhone camera app and retouching my photos, and he’s taken it a step further by showing me how Snapseed and VSCO Cam can help me make some of my ordinary images extraordinary. Also? He’s taught me how to setup my workflow so I can take my photos from simple to fabulous in record-breaking time.
A few other iPhone photography pointers…
- Clean the lens on the back of your iPhone before taking photos. It can get surprisingly dirty through everyday use, and a dirty lens results in blurry photos!
- Remember to use the rule of thirds to balance your images. Enabling the grid lines on your iPhone camera makes this pretty easy by dividing your photo frame into 9 sections, and the idea is to place the focal point of your photo along a vertical or horizontal line and at a point of intersection.
- Turn on the auto HDR feature. This stands for High Dynamic Range, and it helps bring out details in photos that would be missed when shooting in auto mode.
- Don’t use the zoom feature. Ever. It blurs your images! You are much better off cropping your photo using an editing app.
- Purchase an external lens to enhance the quality of your photos. Chris Burkard will give you ideas and show you how valuable an external lens can be is in his course Outdoor Photography for Smartphone: Getting a Professional Look.
Phew. That was a lot of information!
I hope these iPhone photography tips help you in your quest to live in the moment and take better photos of the people and places you love.
If you’re interested in learning more about photography, or have another passion you’d like to pursue, I highly recommend Skillshare. From painting and sewing to cooking and baking to typography and graphic design, the possibilities really are endless.
Charles Buxton once said, ‘You will never find time for anything. You must make it.’ Along those same lines, Seth Godin also said, ‘The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.’
In other words, it’s up to you to make your dreams a reality.
And registering for Skillshare is a great first step in the right direction! If you’d like to get started on your learning journey, click here for two free months of Skillshare Premium. A yearly Premium membership usually costs around $10 per month for unlimited classes, community discussions, and much more, but if you sign up today, you can take Skillshare Premium for a test drive for free! You’ll have to enter your credit card info to sign up, but you won’t be charged at all unless you stay on past your free 2 months, and you can cancel anytime.
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
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