Shooting Tips for All You iPhone Photographers

Charlotte Fassler | February 9, 2016

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I have always had my qualms about camera phones. It was only a few years ago, pre-iPhone, that I would carry my huge Canon SLR out — or even a disposable for nostalgia’s sake. I was reserved about submitting to a camera built into a phone and tried to convince myself that my phone was just a tool for texting.

But recently, I’ve faced the reality that my shelf of old cameras is collecting dust and that it’s rare I take a “real” camera out. Even rarer: a purse that can fit one.

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This here is my computer phone. It is the size of my face and is more or less an iPad — but man is it more portable than the alternative professional equipment. It’s also…pretty professional. Turns out our friends in Cupertino know their way around a point and shoot (that also makes calls). Below: tips to help you learn yours.

If you’re sick of blurry pics in low light, Auto Exposure / Auto Focus will be your best friend.

This is old news to some and magic to others: If you slide your finger up and down on the ready-to-take-a-pic screen, a yellow sun appears that signifies exposure, which you can manually toggle and change.

By tapping once on the screen you can lock-in a certain exposure, which is great for keeping a clear eye on the fast-moving, oddly-lit runway. (Tap again to unlock should the venue lighting change.)

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If those models are still walking too fast? Go into Burst Mode.

Hold down the “shutter” and follow them as they walk toward you, by you, and as they walk away, then select your favorite ones from the burst.

Even better…with the new iPhone 6s/iOS 9, you can snap them as Live Photos. (Which move just like the portraits in Harry Potter, and they include sound.)

The function should be selected by default if you’re working with the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which means it has Live Photos. If the Live Photos feature doesn’t seem to be activated yet, open up your camera as though you were going to take a photo and click the yellow circle icon (it looks like a cool desert sun) at the top of the screen. Take a picture like normal — but! — a yellow box that says “Live” will show up so that you know you’re actually doing it.

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Let me be honest hear: it is great for the runway, but man is it good for a selfie.

(Note: if you go to Instagram a “live photo,” it’s the first still that will post.)

Selfie-Improvement

Speaking of selfies, not only can you employ the help of the front-facing self-timer (perfect for your selfie stick!) there is now a front-facing flash on the new phones. Say cheese after you say goodbye to that blinding “selfie case” your best friend has. This one’s a bit more subtle. (Read: you’ll be able to keep your eyes open.)

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You already know about slo-mo video…

But did you know you can simultaneously take stills while recording any type of video by tapping the white button to the left of the big red record button?

Editing Tools:

Just a friendly reminder that there are more tools built into the regular iPhone photo app than that sad magic wand. Here we have a built-in Photoshop, eliminating my need to open the Camera Plus app in addition to 18 others.

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Avoid the fumble!

Quick Actions with 3D Touch, one of the new iPhone’s features, will increase your photo efficiency and decrease the stressed-out panic mode of not being able to capture the streaker who suddenly flew down the runway, balls a-go-go.

How: press down on the Camera app icon on your home screen to bring up Quick Action shortcuts like “Take Selfie,” “Record Video,” “Take a Photo” or “Record Slo-mo” [of a streaker, balls a-go-go].

Finally, a great Spy Tip: 

If you want to look like you’re in the Secret Service, you can use the volume button on your earbuds to snap a photo. (I’ve done it on the subway many times).

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And there you have it. Your phone is more of a camera than your dusty high school Canon Elph, slightly more portable than an SLR and ups your Harriet the Spy game by at least 10 points. Did you know this thing makes phone calls, too?

GIFs by Charlotte Fassler; photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Allie Fasanella

    I love this, Charlotte! I’m gonna go play with my phone now.

  • Camilla Ackley

    I swear the only way they can get any better is if the next update comes with an actual photographer boyfriend.

    xo Camilla

    Into The Fold

  • Julie

    The exposure control totally changed my life for the better. Have you tried the time lapse video?? I can’t decide if I’m into it.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Time Lapse is tricky as it tends to kill battery and for the best results you need to have very steady hands or a camera tripod. I am a bit too impatient for it but it yields cool results!

  • parkzark

    What a long long way camera phones have come.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      RYAN CABRERA!! He was on both Pretty Wild AND The Ashlee Simpson Show.

      Man, I miss the Ashlee Simpson Show…..

      • parkzark

        OMG Pretty Wild. That is the worst and best show of my life. Ryan 4 lyfe.

      • Where do you think her ex bf Josh is? They were so cute, but he was so Unreachable…

      • PRETTY WILD!!! Still waiting for someone to autotune the Nancy Jo/ Alexis Neiers one-way call. #sixinchlouboutins #littlebrownbebeshoes

        • Charlotte Fassler

          please make that.
          NANCY JO. This is Alexis. Neiers.

  • I discovered the Burst feature by accident but I LOVE IT! I didn’t know we could make GIFs out of it though!!!

  • Thank goodness they keep improving the iphone camera and all of its apps!

    http://tostylewithlove.com/

    Daphne

  • Chantelle

    Thank you for the tips! xx

    http://www.2matesandablog.com

  • Thanks for the tip, Charlotte. Also re: the above beach pic, were you on a pier?

    • Charlotte Fassler

      sure was, Venice pier baby!

      • That’s what I thought!! Just wanted to verify. peace.

  • Glow On

    Great post! I just learned a lot of new tricks on my iPhone camera that I never new existed. http://www.getchaglowon.com

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  • I am going to try all those tips, thank you!

  • Thanks for these tips! I feel like the iphone photos can never measure up to my Nikon ones, but I am learning.

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • Autumn

    Umm … does this mean Charlotte is back?!

  • Adele Miner

    Love this post, really helpful! x
    adelelydia.blogspot.com

  • Greer Clarke

    All I can say is, CHARLOTTE IS BACK?!?!?!

  • Greer Clarke

    Awww I thought Charlotte was back, but in reality it is just her great advice livin on

  • me

    CHARLOTTE: PLZ COME BACK!!!

    Miss you, sistah !!

  • I HAD NO IDEA THERE WAS AN AUTO EXPOSURE THINGY AND EVEN NOW I STRUGGLED TO DO IT AND NOW I AM ELATED, ABSOLUTELY ELATED.

  • I was also against phone cameras until I bought My iphone 6S… The Harry Potter picture option is revolutionary!!!!

    & if you want to know what are brands like Dior or Calvin Klein doing to get GenerationZ’s attention, don’t miss my latest post! (Also if you are curious about what is GenerationZ)
    http://www.mgluxurynews.com/posts

    Bests!! María.

  • This is awesome, very much needed! Cheers! X

    Off duty outfit look over on –
    hailandharmony.blogspot.ie
    // BLOGLOVIN

  • Chetna Singh

    Love this post..Thank you!

  • Claire

    So many great tips that I’ll be using (as I only use my iPhone camera for the rest of my life).

    http://www.outfitsandobservations.blogspot.com

  • Great tips, sharing this now! xx