iPhone photography: The ultimate guide

Everything you need to know about composing, taking, and editing great photos, macros, panoramas, and HDR photos with your iPhone, and taking your iPhoneography to the next level

While the original iPhone camera was nothing to write home about, the current iPhone camera is something to never leave home without. If the best camera is the one you have with you, then whether you're shooting pictures of sunsets or sports cars, family or friends, pets or national parks, you still want to get the best iPhone photos possible.

That's where iMore's iPhoneography series comes in, and that's what we're collecting together here, in one convenient, highly-bookmarkable place. We'll continue to expand this guide to include even more awesome iPhone photography tutorials, but here's everything you need to know to get started.

How to get started with iPhone photography

How to get started with iPhone photography

If you're new to the iPhone or new to taking pictures, here's everything you need to know to get started. This will get you up to speed on the iPhone camera, fast camera access, the Camera app, geo-tagging, picture taking, the digital zoom, macro focus, auto-focus and auto-exposure, focus and exposure lock, the LED flash, HDR, the grid, the Camera Roll and Photo Stream, and the built-in editing tools.

If any of that sounds unfamiliar, or if you're unsure where to start, start here!

How to make your iPhone photography more striking with the "rule of thirds"

Make your iPhone photography more striking with the “rule of thirds”

One of the most important, yet most difficult, elements in creating beautiful photographs is composition - where your subject is placed and how it's related to its surroundings. A great starting point for developing this skill is to understand the rule of thirds.

Composing your subjects in the dead center of your photo is boring. Using the rule of thirds, you can easily place your subject or the most interesting part of your subject -- the eyes or face, the sunrise or tree, the gadget or icon -- a third of the way towards the top or bottom and towards the left or right, and instantly improve your results.

How to make your iPhone photographs more powerful with negative space

negative space iphone photography

The placement of your subject or subjects is incredibly important when it comes to creating powerful iPhone photo compositions, but just as important is everything around and between them -- the negative space. Once you've experimented with the rule of thirds, it's time o explore that other two thirds, how it defines the forms, leads the eye, and helps create more balanced, more visually interesting work.

How to take amazing macros with your iPhone

Once you're feeling comfortable with the rule of thirds and negative space, it's time to get up close and personal. Life is full of small, interesting things -- a flower, an insect, your newborn's tiny toes -- and these things make for great photography. Macro photography to be precise.

Macros aren't zoomed in -- you actually have to bring the lens really close to your subject and focus on what you want to capture. That's why the keys to good macro photography, even on an iPhone, are becoming familiar with the focus distance of your lens and nailing that focus, light, composition. That's what will really make your photos stand out.

How to take stunning panoramas with your iPhone

How to create stunning panoramic photographs with your iPhone

With your iPhone you have one of the best 4:3 compact cameras in the world, but what happens when the world you want to capture isn't 4:3? What happens when you come across a gorgeous scene -- the Golden Gate bridge at sunset, the Manhattan skyline at dawn, the crystal-clear island beach, the magnificent Old Port architecture, the rally that's filling the campus? You can still take a photo, or several photos, of part of it, but nothing can really compare to capturing the full breadth and majesty of such an image all in one shot.

When wide-angle isn't wide enough, enter the panorama.

How to take awesome HDR photos with your iPhone

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and refers to a scene that includes both bright and dark elements -- the sun, reflecting off water, with deep shadows in the tree lines, or a regularly lit person standing against the glare of an open window. HDR photography refers to taking photographs of such scenes. Unlike the human eye, however, camera sensors need a little extra help to get that done. Fortunately, the iPhone comes with a built-in HDR setting, and with it you can add a lot of highs, and a ton of range, to make your photos more dynamically awesome than ever.

How to take great looking portraits with your iPhone

We love to take pictures of the people we love. It's one of the primary reasons we buy cameras, and it's one of the primary reasons we use our iPhone camera. Our friends, our families, our children -- whether it's for something special like a card or graduation, an event like a trip, a party or, or family get-together, or just a chance encounter, we always have our iPhone with us so we can always grab that perfect portrait of that important person.

But how do you take a great looking portrait with your iPhone? Lighting, camera level, pose, and composition all play a role.

How to take fantastic photos of your kids with your iPhone

How to take great photos of your kids with your iPhone

If you have children, you probably take more photos of them with your iPhone than anything else. Everything that you've already learned about taking great portraits applies to taking great portraits of children, like light, camera level, and catchlights. But when it comes to taking the absolute best possible iPhone photos of your little ones, there are some additional tricks and techniques pay attention to as well.

How to take dreamy photos of your newborn baby with your iPhone

How to take dreamy photos of your newborn with your iPhone

Babies equal photos. It's really just that simple. Nothing sells more cameras or generates more images than a newborn baby. Whether it's yours, your family's, or your friend's, the moment we a baby our fingers fly to the shutter. Babies are the celebrities of our lives and we all want the best possible photos of them we can get. Now you may have seen especially dreamy photos of babies in galleries or on the web and wished you could capture similar images of the baby in your life. Well, you can! All you need is your iPhone, the right tools, and the proper techniques!

How to take irresistible photos of your pets with your iPhone

How to take irresistible photos of your pets with your iPhone

If you don't have kids, your iPhone Camera Roll is probably filled with pictures of your pets. If you do have kids, your iPhone Camera Roll is probably filled with pictures of your kids with your pets. That means, unless you don't have pets at all, you'll want to take absolutely the best pictures you can of them. Not surprisingly, a lot of the iPhoneography techniques we've covered previously also applies to pets, but there are some specific things to keep in mind -- and in frame!

How to take spectacular photos of your car with your iPhone

Is your car your pride and joy? Do you regularly dedicate hours of your time to washing and detailing your beautiful vehicle? Have you secretly dreamed of hiring a photographer to take professional photographs of your most prized possession? Then you'll want to get the most spectacular photos possible of your car. You just need to keep a few simple things, like presentation, placement, angles, and details in mind.

How darken and add drama to your iPhone photography with iPhoto

The digital darkroom: how to use iPhoto to darken specific areas of your photo

It's always worth capturing the best possible photo you can with your camera. Thanks to photo editing apps like iPhoto, however, when and if something goes wrong -- the framing is a little off, the white balance or exposure isn't perfect, the levels just don't look right -- there's a lot you can do to fix it.

How to polish and perfect your iPhone portraits with iPhoto

How to edit portraits with iPhoto for iPhone and iPad

Whether its family or friends, or even your own self-portrait destined for your social profile, everyone always wants to look as good as possible -- better than reality even. Cousin Judy may untag herself if she sees even one unsightly blemish on her skin. Best friend Tim may complain endlessly if he thinks he looks too pale. And if there's so much as a wrinkle around your own eyes... The good news is that in just a matter of minutes, you can turn those not-so-hot photos into portraits you can't wait to show off!

How to get more help with iPhone photography

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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There are 4 comments. Add yours.

FlopTech says:

We're huge fans of your entire photography series, and many of your tips can be used to improve photography with any camera, iPhone or point-and-shoot or DSLR. Thanks for your hard work!

Arsh Deol says:

just love your photography :)

Puakia says:

I thought I would glance at the articles yesterday, and I ended up bookmarking them for use as a reference tool. I can grasp the ideas behind what I am supposed to be doing after reading your articles. Complex concepts written in a way the non-photographer can understand! Thank you.

CassidyPhotography says:

Just read this article.

I would like to know whether or not you have printed any photos from your iPhone or iPad?

If so, then what was the maximum size that you were able to print that shows fine detail and sharpness? Are the resulting photos that you printed large enough to frame and put above a fireplace mantle, for example?

You suggest Macro-photography, but how close can you get, showing fine detail? Then what size can you enlarge that photo to?

Take a look here, (http://cassidyphotography.net/my-opinion) of a small lavender flower measuring no more than 5mm or 3/16" across, taken with an iPhone camera, then enlarged. Compare it to the photo taken with a professional Nikon or Canon dslr camera, or even a consumer-grade variant with a larger CCD (sensor).

I agree, I have seen some stunning photos taken with an iPhone, that look great on an iPhone, but try to make a wall-sized print out of those award winners.

Just trying to clear the muddy water and hype.