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Picture of how to take great photos with an iPhone

Most of us carry a smartphone with us everywhere these days, so it's important to know how to use your smartphone camera to take great photos! I've only had a smartphone for a couple years, and I've loved having a decent camera to document things I'm doing or take quick photos to remember something I've seen that I want to recreate.

I still favor using an actual camera for my instructables, but I do like to use my iPhone's camera to take nice photos of my embroideries to share on Instagram and to post items on Etsy. :)

I'll be focusing mainly on iPhone photography tips since that's the smartphone I own, but many of these tips can be used for Android devices as well. :D

If you're more interesting in learning to edit your iPhone photos, check out my basic photo editing instructable.

(P.S. Did you know that iPhones are the most popular camera on flickr? Pretty nuts! If you keep clicking you can see tons of examples of amazing iPhone photography and lots of terrible selfies.)

Step 1: Recommended apps

Picture of Recommended apps

Jun3 2016 update: as of right now I only use the A Color Story app! It's 100% amazing and worth the money. It's available for iPhone and soon to be on Android!

For the majority of my iPhone photography, I use three apps:

Camera+ has replaced the normal camera app for me - it has more options, including an image stabilization feature that's currently missing for the default camera app on iPhone 4S/5C. It has loads of options to enhance your photos, but it's also just fine to use it without making any adjustments.

Afterlight is great for tweaking photos! I use it for cropping, adjusting brightness and colors, and also for adding frames. The app also has a fantastic set of filters that are actually useable - they don't make the photos grainy and strange like Instagram does.

Instasize is a great way to post full photos to Instagram and social media without cropping them into a square. So many times I take photos and love the way they look and I don't want to butcher them by cropping - and this is a perfect solution! As an added bonus, you can choose the color of the borders around your photo, but I tend to stick with white. :)

Free (and awesome!) photo editors:

Pixlr and Photoshop Express are capable of creating very pretty and well edited photos. I haven't noticed any issues with pixelation when the images are blown up. :D

Litely is not as full featured, but it's lovely for adding a bit of mood and polish to portraits - it's essentially just a collection of really beautiful film-style filters.

If you want to add text to your photos, I recommend using one of these apps:

The one major drawback here is that most text editing apps default to square cropping and/or can be a little clunky to use.

A Beautiful Mess also has a hard time processing edited photos - I find that when I blow the image up it's quite pixelated. But if you're just using it for Instagram, it might work just fine for you!

Typic+ also has a free version with less options if you want to give it a go before you buy. :)

9773614 days ago
no way
The photos I take with my smartphone (Android) tend to be 3-6 MB in size. What would be the preferred size for photos uploaded to Instructables?
jessyratfink (author)  PinCushionCook1 month ago
Smaller is always nicer for upload speeds, and I normally try to keep my photos under 5 MB. More important are the actual dimensions of the photo - I always make sure it's between 1,500-2,000 pixels wide so it displays the best and doesn't end up too small and pixelated. :)
Thank you, that helps a lot!

Thank you!! Always wondered how others took such great photos. Thanks for taking the time to write this primer. What version iphones does this work with i.e. only from iphone 6 or..?

jessyratfink (author)  wahinewahine1 year ago

I would say anything 6+ - right now I'm using an 8s :)

MaggieF21 year ago
Note: Instasize is not free. It's free for seven days, then $4.99 per month on Itunes. As of 2/7/18.

good tip!

fun4joe1 year ago


have_fun121 year ago


Xperio1012 years ago


thehoss2 years ago

Just a thought. I'm trying to learn how to write an instructable but every paragraph sends me to so many other places to learn different things such as, how to take a photo, how to take a photo on a smartphone, how to write an intro... Man, I guess I'll complete my first ible come Christmas:>). I'm retired and have plenty of time so I try to go to all of the suggested readings and while it is very informative, at times it seems a little daunting but I'll press on. Now what was it I was trying to do?

He Se 2 years ago

Thank you for this instructable

Magnolia782 years ago

Awesome instructions and photos! Thank you for the app tips. I really appreciate it.

TheGreatCK3 years ago


GloriaW3 years ago

The simultaneous Home and power button take screenshots about anything from your mobile-related glitches, but wanna directly take screenshot in bulk and directly transfer to your local drive, here is the way out.


I love! Very original

AnunayM made it!4 years ago

These Instructables are simply great! Thanks a lot @makingiggy for such an awesome advices. Look at my gallary @anunaymahajan on instagram.

All the photographs were clicked through cellphone camera.

Camera used : Motorola MotoG(1st Gen.) 5MP

Processing Tool : vscocam

2014-09-25 01.17.30 1.jpgDesign-2014-08-30-13-41-31.pngDesign-2014-08-30-18-53-35.pngIMG_20140903_134441.jpg2014-09-04 06.01.08 1.jpgPicsArt_1413271652727.jpgPicsArt_1413273282116.jpg
WUVIE5 years ago

This is great! Thank you SO much for sharing!

MaryJaneOK5 years ago
foob5 years ago

I learned something new! I had no idea about the headphones to shoot pictures! Thanks! I must say, though, I prefer to just use camera+ for all my editing. You can do all those things you talk about doing in Afterlight, cropping, adjusting contrast/brightness, saturation, frames, filters, and much more. It's the best. =)

Tater Zoid foob5 years ago

There are also aftermarket remotes that are available on eBay for very little money. Try this LINK.

I just ordered one after doing my GIF tutorial. I will be happy to let you know how well it works when I receive it.

Very useful and easy-to-understand article. Thank you so much! I am writing a food blog, which involves food photography, but I am struggling with the photos, especially the ones from my iPad. This instructable really helps. Thank you again!

sleeepy25 years ago

The headphone trick does not work on my iPhone 4 with aftermarket headphones. is there a setting I can change, or does it have to be a 4S?

jessyratfink (author)  sleeepy25 years ago

It could be the headphones and not the phone model that's the issue - I've always had success with the Apple ones, and sometimes Samsung ones work, but really cheapy ones never seem to control anything. :P

Ok, great tips, but you left out my favorite app, Snapseed. Free, from Google+ and contains a lot more features than your have covered here. I love overdriving effects and converting boring shots into art! I will check out your list, as well. Thanks for sharing!

1054155 years ago
1054155 years ago
Great Tips! These are helpful. I used some of these tips myself! ?
1054155 years ago
Great Tips! These are helpful. I used some of these tips myself! ?
n1cod3mus5 years ago

someone should do this for video on the iPhone, I don't have an expensive camera and don't want to buy one just to do video. the cheaper compact cameras don't have a jack for an external mic

marhar5 years ago

+1, gratitude for the headphone tip!

Thanks for the remote tip! I would recommend you to try VSCO Cam. It's free and so perfect.

I actually use my iPhone to do my ibles and I love the outcome! Thanks for posting=)

Ohhh yay! You get really good photos out of it too. I thought for sure you were using a point and shoot. :)

No, I think that I would break it if I were using a point and shoot=) And thank you! Your photos rock too=P
doodlecraft5 years ago

I love it! Everyone who uses their phone as their camera NEEDS to read this! :)

jessyratfink (author)  doodlecraft5 years ago

Yay! Thanks, lady! :)

I LOVE your background! :) Great instructable!

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