6 ways to immediately start taking better iPhone photos and videos

Pocket Camera is all about taking better photos and videos with your iPhone. And while we will explore all aspects of your camera, there are six things you can do right away to improve your work.

Look at light

Photography is, at its most basic, the capturing of light. A camera works the same way our eyes do: Light bounces off of an object and is seen by our eyes — and cameras. What kind of light that is, how it hits the object all factor into what you see and the resulting photograph. There’s a lot to say about light and photography, but to begin, start actively thinking about it. Notice it. Analyze it. Where is it coming from? What kind of light is it? Is it warm or cool? Hard or soft? Light should be one of the first things you think about when taking a photo or video. Play around with light. Move your subject around. See how it appears on your camera. What looks better? What happens if you take the same photo at a different time of day? These are all questions to start asking yourself to explore light and what it can do for your photos and videos.

Rule of Thirds

Composition is another pillar of good photos and videos. Where you position the camera and what is in the frame will be what people ultimately see. There is a fundamental rule of composing a photo called the Rule of Thirds.

Ancients Greeks discovered that our eyes are naturally drawn to certain areas of an image. Divide a picture into nine squares. Those intersecting areas are where our eyes tend to focus.

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Like all rules, this one is meant to be broken, but you should learn it first before breaking it. Look at photographs that catch your eye. Are they doing something that is like the Rule of Thirds? Try framing your pictures in this way and then take with the subject in the middle. Which one do you like more?

Like a lot of photography and video rules we’ll discuss, this is nice to fall back on when you need to quickly capture something. You can turn the grid in your iPhone’s camera to make this easier (see the settings article).

Holding the camera

How you hold your iPhone when taking pictures can be the difference between a sharp and blurry photo. Make sure you have a good grip of it and can hold it steady. The less light you have, the longer your shutter will stay open. If the camera is moving, the image will appear blurry.

Most cameras are built with holding them in mind. The iPhone is a device with multiple purposes so, ergonomically, it’s not built just for the camera.

Most of the time, I hold my iPhone horizontally, with my thumbs on the bottom, my pointer fingers on top and the sides against my middle or ring fingers.

 (It’s pretty awkward to take a picture of yourself holding an iPhone.... )

(It’s pretty awkward to take a picture of yourself holding an iPhone.... )

Another way I hold it is it between the palms of both of my hands, thumbs or pointer fingers on top, middle fingers on the back of the camera.

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Which one is best? Whatever is most comfortable. But a good hold will ensure your image is sharp and you don’t accidentally drop your camera (ouch).

Don’t think you can make a good photo by editing: Take the best photos you can

While you can really make your photo stand out by editing, you shouldn’t rely on making it great in post-production. Do everything you can to get the photo right when you are taking it. By setting up your photos and videos without needing to edit, you are ensuring it will come out the way you want it. Photos can fall apart in post production. When you are trying to achieve what you saw, it can look fake. The less you need to do, the more realistic and authentic your photography looks. It also saves unnecessary work.

Become familiar with your camera settings

If you’ve driven a car, you know how important it is to get used to the controls, settings and how it feels and operates. After driving it for a while, everything becomes second nature and you can turn on the air conditioning, toggle the turn signal and change the radio without looking. The same is true with your iPhone and camera. Get used to using it. Know where the different settings are. The more you use the camera, the quicker you will be able to capture moments, get the shot and switch between the different modes.

 Learn how to change the settings on both the left and right of the your camera. Helps when taking photos and videos of something like actual baseball players, not their statues. 

Learn how to change the settings on both the left and right of the your camera. Helps when taking photos and videos of something like actual baseball players, not their statues. 

Experiment

While we’ve briefly touched some of the basic rules of photography, there’s one you should never forget: always experiment. One of the greatest joys of using a camera is to take what you see, capture it in a new and interesting way and share it with others. Part of what makes the iPhone so great is that you can take as many pictures or video as you want and you always have it with you. The best way to learn more about photos and video is to do it, experiment and share. There’s always a new way to see the world and your camera can be the tool to share that.