When I started this blog, I didn’t even own a camera.
One year later, still no camera. I love using my iPhone for blogging as it means I can blog whenever I want, wherever I want.
Almost all of the photos you’ll find on this blog were shot on my phone, with minimal gear or editing. Here are some of my secrets to taking photos with just an iPhone…
One of your best weapons is research. If I’m shooting a travel post, I research the location and work out the best sights and spots for photos.When I’m there, I search for any unexplored vantage points or vistas to capitalise on.
- See more from Reykjavik here
I also study how other bloggers or photographers have captured the area before, it helps me to think about the angles and perspectives I might like to use and how I can make my photos unique.
- See more from Berlin here
- See more from Venice here
Rule of Thirds
One of the most important lessons you’ll learn is the ‘rule of thirds’. It’s employed by photographers and videographers across the world to create visually-pleasing shots.
Imagine a grid of lines across your screen, splitting the image into thirds. Using ‘Live View’ on your phone generates these lines for you.
The grid helps you frame your photo, placing key points of interest in one of the thirds or on intersecting parts of the grid. This makes your focal points pleasing to the eye.
Of course, symmetry is also pleasing to the eye, so don’t feel you always have to apply the rule of thirds but I find it a useful guide for framing.
Brighter images tend to be more attractive so I try to shoot outside whenever possible, using natural light to my advantage.
That said, low light can make some magical photos. I took this shot at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, using the low light and sunshine to create a silhouette.
If I’m shooting inside, I try to find a spacious room with lots of natural light. I open all the curtains and turn on as many lights as possible. If you’re investing in some kit (which I’ll speak about later) it is worth buying lights for taking photos indoors.
I think the best photographs capture a moment, so I always try to add some motion to my photos. Especially when writing a travel blog, it helps to capture the atmosphere of the area you’re in, be it a bustling city or a serene part of the countryside.
- See more of Florence here
If you’re shooting a person or a somebody is taking a photograph of you on the move, find an empty street or location with an interesting backdrop and walk towards or away from the camera, keeping eye contact.
- See more of Stockholm here
When posing, try to move frequently and, if you’re shooting, take HEAPS of photos and pick the best ones later.
Although motion in your photos is good, motion when shooting is not. A shaky camera makes for blurred, poor quality pictures.
The best photos are taken with a sturdy hand or the support of a ledge/table. Tripods (see at the end of my post) are also a good investment.
Flatlays are a blogger’s best friend. They’re perfect for taking photos of products or for giving an insight into your life – what you carry in your bag, what you’re eating for dinner or how you like to work.
- See more from my Champagne Afternoon Tea here
Shoot from overhead to frame everything in the shot, making sure it is flat, even and all the same brightness (yes, you’ll probably have to stand/jump on a chair).
- See more from my spa trip to Stobo Castle here
Try to use similar tones and colours in flatlays and take the photo at a slight angle to create nice symmetry or lines. I always shoot mine a little wider than I would like, giving me a bit more freedom to crop and tilt when editing.
Also, go wild with extra props to help set the scene…
- Taken from my Christmas Gift Guide here
- Taken from my Valentine’s Day Gift Guide here
My favourite photography feature of the iPhone 7 Plus and newer models is Portrait Mode. Before this, creating depth-of-field on a mobile phone was impossible without adding lenses.
Depth-of-field places your subject in sharp focus, leaving the background blurry and out of focus. It gives your photos a strong, professional feel.
Your iPhone Camera app will guide you, it will tell you if it’s too dark or if you’re too close or far away from the subject.
I use just one app for editing my photos but there are HUNDREDS. In the past I’ve used VSCO, Prisma and Snapseed, and it’s important to try a few apps and find out which works best for you but now I just use:
ColorStory has loads of free effects and filters for you to use and additional features which you can pay for. I like it as it has an easy-to-use interface, with fast results. I try to keep my editing simple and natural, but you might prefer a different look.
Here’s how I edit:
- Crop, tilt or straighten: The app lets you crop to your own dimensions or other set templates. You can also adjust the perspective and tilt and straighten your photos to create the framing, lines and angles you want.
- Curves: My favourite feature. This way you can tweak the highlights and shadows of the photo. I tend to pull the middle towards the top left, brightening the photo. You can also edit exposure and brightness on the app, to increase or decrease the light in the photo.
- Sharpen: Helps to emphasise outlines in the photo. Use sparingly
- Vibrance/Temperature: Change to make colours pop in the photo. Saturation also adjusts the colours.
- Contrast: To make the different elements of the photo stand out. I only bump this up a little.
I braved the elements to try to show you how I shoot & edit…
I started this blog with just my iPhone and nothing else. You don’t need any equipment to take great photos, but it can make life easier.
A shaky camera is the worst and, no matter how steady your hands are, nothing beats a tripod for stability. I use a PIXI Mini Tripod from Manfrotto which is small and lightweight enough to carry around in my bag when travelling.
It’s great for filming too as the legs close, making an easy-grip handle.
- Buy it for £26.95 here
To attach my iPhone to the tripod I use Manfrotto’s TwistGrip universal smartphone clamp, which you can buy for £46.95 here
Not all bloggers can afford to pay others to shoot them. You might not have a devoted boyfriend/girlfriend or patient friends who can travel the world with you. What then?
I often shoot on my own but have found that photos with myself in the frame get more engagement on social media.
So, I bought a really cheap Bluetooth remote control that works with my iPhone to take photos from a distance – perfect!
I’m sure you can find more expensive, reliable ones but I use this remote from Amazon which is £3.99 and works just fine.
Shooting indoors is a pain if you live in the UK, it’s rarely bright or sunny enough to get quality lighting. Ring lights and box lights come in all sizes and strengths and can help to brighten your photos. You can even get mini lights that clip onto your iPhone too!
And that’s it folks! I hope you found this post useful. If you have any tips for me I would love to hear them in the comments below x