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How to Take Better iPhone Photos in 5 Easy Steps + Giveaway

Thank you Pixter for sponsoring this post! As always, all our opinions, text, images are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

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One of the most common questions we get is what gear do we shoot with. We’ve built up quite a large collection of camera gear over the years especially during our wedding photography phase, but photography is more than the gear you shoot with. I remember reading this quote recently, which I know it’s a common frustration for many photographers.

A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.’ – Sam Haskins

Can you believe I’ve been shooting for almost 20 years? Back when I first started, I used to get annoyed when people told me how much they wanted my camera. Nowadays, I tell them, yes I love my camera. It’s amazing! Believe it or not, one of my favorite cameras is my iPhone. Of course, it doesn’t shoot the same quality as a DSLR, but the best camera is the one you have with you (quote by Chase Jarvis). Plus, the quality has gotten pretty freakin’ amazing over the years. You can shoot beautiful photos with your phone and take what you learn to shoot well with any camera.


1. Shoot During the Best Light

In photography, light is the most important factor. It’s not your subject or the background, though those can help but light matters most! Avoid direct sunlight at high noon (middle of the day). It’s the worst time to shoot when the light is harsh, creates unflattering shadows ie. “raccoon eyes”, and blows out highlights. Remember the closer the sun is to the horizon the better (3 pm > 2 pm). Otherwise, try to find shaded spots to shoot where you are fully out of the sun.

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Whether you’re shooting landscapes or portraits, the most flattering light is around golden hour. If you always shoot around sunrise or sunset, your photos are golden! ;)

PRO-TIP – If you absolutely can’t avoid high noon, take photos backlight (the sun behind the subject) but can give you unwanted sun flare OR if your subject is a person, take their profile.

2. Use Natural Lighting As Much As Possible

Even if we’re indoors, we do our best to find natural light. That means you may have to move to a better spot. For example, when we’re at a restaurant, we always ask for a table near the window. If we can’t get a window table, we leave (jk). I have, however, asked people sitting closer to the window if they mind if I take a quick photo at their table.

3. Use a Friend’s Phone for Light

As much as we want to, we can’t always shoot with natural light. When we’re in darker places, we use one of our phones to help light photos. Although your instinct might be to use the flashlight feature, it can give you a really harsh light. We usually turn our screens on as bright as possible and to a white screen to create a softer light. Also, now that the new phones have night mode, you can choose between a blue or yellow color to match the type of lighting around you (Hint: if you’re indoors, you’ll most likely be using yellow).

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The first photo is in the dark and came out very noisy. The second photo is with the flash, and the third photo is with the front screen. Notice the shadows under awkward sloth. The screen gives you much softer light.

4. Move Up Down Left and Right

One of the most common mistakes of shooting is standing still. Move forward, backward, side to side, squat down, or stand on something just to see what different shots you can get. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get a better photo!

5. Increase Your Arsenal

The biggest limitation with the iPhone is that you’re on a 28 mm fixed lens. I contemplated getting the iPhone 7 Plus since it has two lenses (28 mm and the 56 mm telephoto lens) but realized it would never fit in any of my pockets. Instead, we’ve now added some external lenses from the Pixter Pro Lenses Pack (set of 4) to take on our outings. It gives us the option to add a Fisheye, Wide-Angle, Macro, or Telephoto (60mm) lens! The clip on system that makes it really easy to use and change.

Having multiple lenses will allow you to get different looks and shots from the same location. It will help maximize your time and give you a chance to be more creative with your shots.

These are some tiny flowers. To the left, you can see how close you can get with the iPhone alone. To the right, it’s with the macro lens.

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The only annoying part is that you have to take off your case to use the lenses, which is true for all the external lenses. If only they made a wallet phone case that had a bigger opening for your lens!

If you’re planning on doing more video or you want to shoot a timelapse, use a tripod. Pixter has a rigid and flexible tripod depending on what you need it for. It also makes it easier to hold up if you’re trying to shoot with some movement in it.

P.S. Break the Rules

Once you get more comfortable with photography, you can feel free to break any of the rules. The rules are there to give you a good starting point.


To help you get started to up your game, we’re partnering with Pixter to give away two of their pro lenses of your choice! To clarify, it’s one winner and two lenses. Leave us a comment or see more entry options below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you enjoy this post? We’d love for you to pin it for later.

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Hope you found these tips helpful. We’re in the process of working in-depth version that will cover so much more!

Do you have any other photography related topics you’d like us to cover?



Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They move to a new city every year and currently live in Portland, Oregon.

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This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Page harris

    I don’t even carry my camera most of the time. I get better photos with my IPhone.

  2. Vanessa Martinez

    Love taking pics of our animals and my daughter

  3. Jen Freese

    telephoto…..zoom stinks .

  4. kelly woods

    Would love to win this to help with picture taking

  5. Jennifer Dunkelmann hon

    i love to shoot wildlife

  6. Jenny Ham

    Wide-Angle Telephoto (60mm) lens I like to take pictures of people and events.

  7. amanda whitley

    i take pics mostly of my family or cats :p i like the macro lens and the wide angle lens

  8. Laura

    I love to take pictures of the beach! Everything from shells to the seagulls!

  9. Maggie Currier

    I think I would definetely end up using the Fisheye and Wide-Angle lens the most! They would be perfect to help me capture pictures of the beautiful mountain range I live near!

  10. Sara LaFountain

    I use my iphone 7 plus usually. I would love to try any of these lenses, especially the macro or the wide angle!

  11. Marisa Martin

    I would love to try and shoot with a macro lens, as well as a wide angle lens. I’m tired of just having a point-and-shoot camera and really want to up my game!!

  12. koko

    I love this. also a big part is editing!

  13. Kim Pincombe-Cole

    The Macro and Telephoto lens would be my picks. I only have the iPhone 7, so I’m all about that 60mm add on lens. No more lost resolution!

  14. Margaret Grafenstein

    I’d use the telephoto and the wide angle the most. I’m always taking photo & video of my two boys with my iphone (cause I always have it with me). But I have a kid free trip to Paris coming up this summer and can’t wait to shoot something other than my kids!

    1. Esther JuLee

      Enjoy your trip and good luck!! :) I bet you’ll get some amazing photos from Paris!

  15. Veronica Urbaniak

    I would really love to have the macro and the wide angle lenses. I feel like sometimes my phone gets so close to what I am trying to achieve but just can’t quite make a home run!

    1. Esther JuLee

      I know what you mean! But I have a photographer friend who mainly shoots iPhone, and his photos come out way better tons of many photographers who are using dslrs. It’s all about finding yourself good light. :) Good luck!

  16. Chantille

    Thanks for the tips! Until I can save up enough cash, I only use my iPhone for pictures. And I try to make them as legit as possible! If I were to win the giveaway, I would choose the telephoto and the wide angle lenses. I love taking pictures of flowers the most, but I’m about to have a son, so I’m sure he will be my favorite subject to photograph!

    1. Esther JuLee

      Ooh I bet you would have some really cute detail shots of your son you could shoot with the macro too.

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