iPhone Photography Basics: How to shoot a 365 project

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iPhone Photography Week 2024

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Take better photos with the camera in your pocket. iMore's iPhone Photography Week 2024 is filled with great content that will take your iPhone camera-snapping ability to the next level. 

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What better way to learn the iPhone photography basics than by capturing an image every single day for a whole year? A 365 project might sound like a daunting task, but when you consider the thousands of photos that likely already exist on your iPhone or on iCloud, it’s an entirely doable challenge. In fact, there’s a good chance you use your iPhone camera almost every day anyway. The only difference here is that you’re going to be taking your photography that little bit more seriously so you can develop your skills as an iPhone photographer. 

Embarking on a 365 project will immediately give you a goal to work towards, adding a sense of purpose to the photographs that you capture. And if you plan your days effectively, you’ll be able to throw in your fair share of challenges along the way. This is integral in allowing you to develop your photography skills, just make sure you don’t become too ambitious too quickly. Just like an endurance race, a 365 project is a marathon, not a sprint. Shoot three sunsets and four sunrises in the first week and there’s no way you can keep that level of commitment up. 

So, if you’re thinking about starting a 365 project today, here are a few tips to help you avoid throwing the towel in so you can journey forth and become a better photographer…

Mike Harris, iMore contributor
Mike Harris

I’m Deputy Editor of N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, but moonlight as iMore’s go-to photography know-it-all. I’ve worked in the photo industry for over six years and have been an avid iPhone photographer since the iPhone 4. I firmly believe that iPhone photography is a great starting point for burgeoning photographers, so I’ve created a series of iPhone photography basics tutorials so you can either firm up your existing iPhone camera skills or embark on a whole new passion.

Brainstorm photography ideas

iPhone notes planning

(Image credit: Future/Apple)

There is quite simply no genre of photography that doesn’t benefit from planning. And a 365 project is no different. If you leave capturing your photo to the last minute every day, you risk running out of ideas and becoming frustrated. You certainly won’t be capturing your best work. 

As soon as you commit to a 365 project, brainstorm your ideas. Your iPhone’s Notes app is a great way of doing this, so you have access to them at all times. Write down the various genres you’d like to try and then get more specific with particular mini projects you’d like to work on. You can then start to plan your time more effectively and shoot more ambitious images.

Avoid unrealistic expectations

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Vowing to capture 365 images in a single year is a huge undertaking and it’s easy to become disillusioned, especially if you set unrealistic expectations. A 365 project is anything you want it to be: a visual diary of your life, an excuse to take photos or a practice regime that allows you to build your skillset. Just don’t expect to capture an award-winning iPhone image every single day. Even the world’s best photographers would struggle to shoot their best work on such a consistent basis. 

Instead, allow yourself to find creative ways to come up with easy wins on days when you’re busy and save more ambitious projects for the days when you’ve got the time. If all you manage to capture is an artistic ray of window light, highlighting the cup on your desk one day, that’s not a problem. And while you should try your best not to miss a day, if you do, simply shoot two photos the next day and move on.

Keep a camera with you at all times

iPhone home screen

(Image credit: Future/Apple)

If you were shooting with a dedicated camera, this would be an extremely important step. But it highlights the real beauty of iPhone photography and why – even as a seasoned photographer – I take my iPhone Camera seriously. It’s the camera that’s always by your side, making it arguably the best camera you could use for a 365 project.

Whether you’re on your way back to the office with your lunch and you spot a fantastic piece of architecture, or you’re walking the dog in the evening and are met with beautiful golden light, or you’re off on a city break, your iPhone is the camera that’s always by your side.

Experiment with genres and iPhone tech

Collage iPhone photography

(Image credit: Future/Apple)

Experimentation is key if you want to use your 365 project to develop your skills, but it’s also a great way to get to know your iPhone camera inside out. I’m willing to bet that most iPhone photographers keep their camera on the main wide-angle lens and don’t deviate further. This is your chance to experiment with different lenses: try shooting a fun portrait with the ultra-wide-angle lens or if you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone 15 Pro Max, put that brand-new 5x telephoto lens through its paces. Explore functions like Pano, Portrait, and Night modes. Apply a filter and shoot in black and white or finally get round to learning how to edit iPhone photos the right way by delving into the Photos app’s editing functions. 

Challenge yourself

Collage iPhone photogrpahy

(Image credit: Future/Apple)

Just as you don’t want to set yourself unrealistic expectations, you also don’t want to go too far the other way. If all you do is take a quick snap every day, with little thought regarding composition, the quality of light, or whether or not you’re using the right lens, you simply will not improve as a photographer. You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone at certain times throughout the year. This might be trying a different genre like street photography or portraiture, it might be learning more about your iPhone camera and using the various features to their fullest. Either way, you have to push yourself to get better.

Share and collate your images

Screenshots of iPhone screen

(Image credit: Future/Apple)

There really is something special about seeing a body of work. In a world where digital photography means we can shoot and move on, and the time-sensitive nature of digital media means articles and images are soon lost to the annals of time, seeing a collection of your images in one place is a really satisfying way to chart progress. It’s one of the main reasons why Instagram became so popular, after all. 

Creating an Instagram account for your 365 project is a fantastic way of collating your work and sharing it with others. It also gives your project an additional purpose and allows you to receive constructive criticism, garner inspiration from other accounts and receive positive comments to motivate you further. And if you don’t want to share your project online, you can create a folder in the Photos app, so you can still collate your work and browse through it in one place.

Find a photography partner

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(Image credit: Future/Apple)

Persuading a friend, or even a group of friends, to partake in a 365 project is a great way to stay inspired and motivated, while also introducing a healthy dose of competition. This allows you to really immerse yourself within the project. Encouragement will spur you on and constructive criticism will help you develop. You may even find yourselves heading out together and becoming more ambitious with your efforts. But easily the most valuable by-product of teaming up, is an added sense of accountability. If you ever find yourself disillusioned or lacking the motivation to continue, your photography partner will be there to lift you up and encourage you to push on.

But I’m too busy to take a photo every day… 

Photography should be about having fun. Force yourself to embark on a 365 project and it could have an adverse effect. If your life is simply too busy for a 365 project right now, you can still use almost all of the tips above, but apply them to more manageable, mini projects. This might be taking a photo every time you walk the dog, only capturing black and white photography for a month, or focusing on a street photography project during a city break. Multiple ‘mini projects’ throughout the year may prove just as valuable as a 365 project. You're on the right track as long as you’re motivated to capture photos regularly.

Mike Harris

Mike Harris is Deputy Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  

While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to abstracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.