Beat a professional with these iPhone photography hacks

It’s only normal to feel daunted by all the photography professionals flaunting their DSLRs that are equipped with multiple lenses whilst you are stuck with merely a mobile phone. However, today’s best photographers aren’t determined by the equipment they use but more so on the style of their shots.

With some prior knowledge topped with tips that we have gathered from reputable photographers who are known for their craft of using an iPhone, we’ve compiled a list of hacks that could be helpful for your next photography exploration.

Just a note: We certainly do not refer to solely the latest phone models, so it’s not time to toss your outdated iPhone 8 away just yet.

Tip 1: Use proper framing

Time and time again, if you scroll through the web, you’d see tons of photos that you might remark as slanted, “too much headroom”, “too many distractions” and whatnot. Being true Singaporeans, we can’t deny how we complain and yet not do anything to further improve our pictures. So, it’s about time you learn the tricks to a picturesque photo.

Rule of thirds

Image: Gurpreet Singh/Pixpa

Any photographer out there would repeatedly emphasise on using the rule of thirds. Essentially what that means is that when framing your shot, position important elements (e.g. landmarks) along the grid lines or at the points where they intersect; thus creating a more dynamic and innovative picture. If you’re a little confused at this point, turn on the ‘grid’ function on your camera application and notice how that breaks the image into nine equal parts like the example above. 

Extra tip: If you are shooting subjects such as animals or something in motion, position them on the extreme left or right of the grid.

Make use of elements

 Image: Shariffah Nadia/Butler Magazine

Let your shots stand out from the rest by making use of elements around you. That includes taking pictures from a peep-hole, within a window or even through a building like the example above. Fundamentally, it’s about capturing objects through a different perspective to get an overall image that differs from someone else.

Extra tip: If you are shooting at a festival or somewhere with crazy human traffic, try to find an element that you can take your photo through (e.g. within the barricades).

 

Tip 2: Explore different angles

 

Chest height angle

Image: Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

We get how it’s so much easier to take a picture when you’re standing on par with the subject. This is best for a group shot, a formal photo or when taking photos of subjects with intricate details.

Even though it’s a simple and common photo-taking method, it’s important to watch out for perspective distortion: Move two steps back, to the side or do whatever it takes to create balance. Thus, whilst the chest height is said to be the easiest angle to shoot from, it can require some practice before nailing a shot.

Extra tip: For group shots, position people with big faces at the back and people with small faces at the front.

Low angle

Image: Shariffah Nadia/Butler Magazine

The trick to an Instagram-worthy photo is to capture your image from a low angle. In this case, you’ll need to go down on your knees and grab the shot from as low to the ground as possible. Doing so will not only make your pictures more intriguing, but can also provide a different perspective on the photo as a whole. 

Extra tip: We’re not calling out any fun-sized ladies, but get your partners to go as low as possible when taking your #OOTDs as that will help to elongate your legs and make you look taller in pictures.

Top-down

Image: Shariffah Nadia/Butler Magazine

Taking a photo from the top-down involves you looking down, not upon others, but on the subject from a higher level. This works best for photos involving stairwells or buildings with beautiful ground level architecture like the example above. Top-down is also an alternative word for a”flat lay” image, which is to essentially lay items on a flat surface and have someone take a shot of them whilst standing on higher ground; using this method of photo-taking is perfect for food editorials. 

Flat lay tip: The easiest way to elevate your photo game is to simply keep your phone angle above but levelled with the subject. Don’t be afraid to go as high as possible, but at all times, do ensure you’re on stable ground.

Tip 3: Don’t get complacent

Recall how you only took one shot after thinking it was perfect, but then came to the realisation that your thumb was covering the lens; this is why you should never assume that you captured the moment perfectly in one shot. If you are photographing something in motion, tap and hold down the capture “button” for a burst of shots.

Extra tip: Achieve a long exposure outlook by swiping up the image, scrolling to the right and choosing ‘long exposure’ like the example below.

Image: Shariffah Nadia/Butler Magazine

 

Tip 4: Natural light is the best light

 

Image: Shariffah Nadia/Butler Magazine

With all the editing apps readily available on the play store, it’s undeniable how we’d heavily rely on them over trying to capture a perfect raw image. To achieve that, tap on the subject and slide your finger up or down to adjust the photo brightness like the example above.

Apart from that, it’s best to locate the sun before shooting. It may feel nice to have the glowing sun right behind you, but this will only make one look like a dark silhouette. Instead, go against the sun and let the rays glow up the subject.

Extra tip: Be conscious of shadows and look out for window lights and shades to get rid of distracting shadows, or find harsher light to make interesting, dramatic shadows like the example below.

Image: Ezra Bailey/Getty Images

Tip 5: Be creative

Image: @yafiqyusman

As humans, it’s habitual to want to replicate a shot taken by a professional after seeing it gaining thousands of likes on Instagram. Whilst that probably seems to be the best-selling shot, it doesn’t entirely have to be the only way to shoot the same subject. Instead, explore different angles or look around you for other opportunities to think out of the box. 

With reference to the image above, experiment with using different props for your shot. There isn’t exactly a limit to the number of props you can use, even if it’s with kitchen utensils. More importantly, be creative and be open to trying because as the saying goes, “You’ll never know if you never try.”

Extra tip: Above all, whilst you are scouring for new positions to shoot, please do not endanger or get yourself arrested for going beyond a restricted area.

Feature image taken from Anton Petrus/Getty Images

About Author /

A funsize explorer with an endless adventure list, her off-days are spent travelling around the red dot with her camera. Heritage trails, quaint cafes, you name it; she'll take you on an adventure to make your weekends less mehhhh!

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