instagram tips – how I take iPhone photos


File this post under, I’m not sure; though I get asked a lot about how I take iPhone photos, I strongly suspect I’m not doing anything different to everyone else.
Still, sometimes it’s good to be reassured of that, right?
I shoot 99% of my Instagram photos using the basic camera app on my iPhone 5. Here’s how:

1: Compose shot. I always shoot the full screen, not a square, so I have the freedom to play around with my composition later, if I want.
I’m a stickler for straight lines and clean angles, so I always make sure my phone is exactly parallel with whatever I am shooting – not tipped a bit forwards or back.
I’m having trouble explaining that with words, so here’s a handy diagram:


As a general rule, I line up the camera lens with the centre of the object or scene I am shooting. If there are lots of straight lines, it can be handy to use the grid overlay to get a better sense of where the centre is, and when everything is nice and even. Of course, there are times when you don’t want to shoot something perfectly straight, but for about 90% of my shots I’m a straight up square 😀

2. Shoot. I tap the object to focus and expose, and take a couple of shots – always a couple, in case I get a bit of hand-shake on one. Sometimes I use the on-screen button, and sometimes the volume control – it depends on where and how I’m holding the phone.
Then I quickly check the shot, adjust as necessary, tap to focus again, and shoot some more. I generally shoot about 10-15 photos for any one shot, with slightly different exposures, distance and compositions. I’ve found over time I generally end up using the shots I take from a greater distance away, and cropping them down a bit.

3. Crop. As I mentioned in my post on editing, I always crop down to my finished image before applying any filters or adjustments. I make sure my lines are straight, using VSCOs ‘rotate’; I know the latest IG update lets you rotate in other dimensions, but I haven’t tried this yet!
It’s often only once I’ve cropped an image that I can really know if I’ve got THE shot – so I usually do a quick trial crop right after taking the photo, just to check.


Self portraits etc: When I post a picture showing myself, or both of my hands, it’s generally by one of two ways: a self timer app, or my human tripod ;).
With a self timer app, I make sure I have the sound turned up loud (so I know when to do my photo-face, natch), & tape my phone to anything from my kitchen light fitting to doorframes to lamposts in the street.
My human tripod is my sweet, kind & patient fiancee (hee!) Rory, & despite his occasional muddy great footprints in my shots, he’s a huge help & a total hero.

& that’s pretty much it! Is there anything else you want to know about snapping on your phone? Leave me a comment & let me know!