Secrets to taking beautiful images with your phone | Tips and Tricks | New Brunswick Lifestyle Photographer

February 20, 2017

I truly believe that the best camera is the one you have with you. I would always rather catch a moment with my phone than not at all, and in fact I have started to love phone photography. It’s different from using my camera, and that’s part of what makes it great. Even if you’re not a professional photographer or a photographer at all, you can learn to take great images with your phone! There are tons of ways to capture the moment with your phone, but I’m going to let you in on my personal secrets.

I currently use an iPhone 6S, but until this past December I had a 5S. Both take great photos; it’s actually amazing what great quality you can get with a cell phone! My go to apps for photography are Camera+ for shooting and VSCO for editing, although I have several others that I use once in a while, including PicTapGo and Snapseed. There are some other creative apps I use that I’ll mention as I go along.

What I love about Camera+ is how easy it is to use, first of all. It’s similar to the iPhone camera app, but it’s much more intuitive and you can do much more with it. I especially love how you can separate exposure and focus, which is great for situations like sunsets when you need to expose for the sky but focus on a subject. It also has a self timer option that is great for self portraits.

iPhone photography - Light and shadows
I love playing with shadows and light. These examples were all taken with the Camera+ app and I separated the exposure and focus to get the proper exposure for my subject.
iPhone photography - Silhouettes
Camera+ makes it easy to take beautiful silhouettes by allowing you to expose for the sky and focus on your subject.

I edit almost all of my iPhone images in VSCO. It has some great filters and A6 is the one I use the most because it suits my style of contrast and colour. I also love the basic editing tools like sharpening, crop, temperature, saturation and exposure. I love how this app has everything I need in it to edit and so most of the time I don’t need to use several different apps.
Sometimes it is fun to play around with other editing tools though, like adding sun flare or removing distracting objects from the background. I use Lens Distortions to add flare to a photos that needs a little extra sunlight, and Adobe Photoshop Fix for its cloning and healing tools.

iPhone photography - sunflare
In the top two images, I added sun flare with the Lens Distortions app. The sun flare in the bottom two photos is natural. It’s fun to play around with light!
iPhone photography - healing tool
I used the Spot Healing tool in the Adobe Photoshop Fix app to remove the clutter from the original image.

All that technical stuff aside, using your phone to take photos is really simple. You don’t have to worry about manual mode or which lens to use. When you are a busy mom just wanting to get shots of your everyday life, your phone is the best way to freeze those special moments. That being said, if you want to get the best photos possible you need to understand light.

Have you ever taken a photo of your child and it was totally out of focus? It was probably because there wasn’t enough light. If there isn’t enough light, any movement by the person holding the camera or the subject will cause blur. To avoid this you need to create more light or both you and the subject need to be perfectly still, which isn’t always easy or possible. Natural light is the best way to prevent motion blur. Find a window or go outside. If you can’t do that or it’s night time, you may need to turn on more lights. While cell phones can take amazing photos, because you can’t change manual settings or lenses, you need to adapt to its limits and the best way to do that is to always be looking for the light.

iPhone photography
More examples of images taken with my iPhone in different lighting situations. Pay attention to the available light and you’ll be able to take beautiful photos.

There are times when I am glad to have my phone with me, and would actually choose my phone over my DSLR. Yes my camera can do so much more than my phone and can create incredible images, but sometimes its heaviness and size make it inconvenient. Plus, phones come with some pretty cool features that would be a lot harder to do with my camera, like panoramas.

iPhone photography - panoramas
These panos were shot with my iPhone in (top to bottom): Fogo Island Newfoundland, Rosetown Saskatchewan, and Veradero Cuba.

I also like to photograph from different angles, which could be a bit harder with my DSLR. I love shooting from above because it’s a fun perspective and with my phone is super easy!
iPhone photography - from above
I also love shooting macro (close-up) shots. Because I don’t have a dedicated macro lens for my camera I don’t get to do it often. I purchased a set of lenses for my iPhone from Photojojo that allow me to shoot macro as well as wide angle, telephoto and fish eye. They are magnetic and stick right to my phone. It’s fun to try different techniques without having to spend hundreds of dollars.

iPhone photography - macro
I shot all of these images with a magnetic macro lens on my iPhone.

Even if you are not a professional photographer, I am sure you want to be able to take photos of your life. You can’t hire a professional for every single occasion or milestone, but you can capture those moments. Cell phone technology is so amazing. Taking the time to learn how your phone works, to try different apps and techniques can bring your photography to a new level.
I love being able to take, edit and post photos wherever I am, and I appreciate that I don’t have to always carry my big camera around with me when I want to also be in the moment with my family. My personal Instagram account is intentionally mostly iPhone shots because it authentically represents my life. If you want to follow along and see more of my iPhone photography, my username is @jennblake.
I hope my tips will help you be able to capture your life a little easier, see the beauty in the everyday, and that you can have some fun with it too!
iPhone photography - black and white


So much useful information. I rarely use my camera phone unless I have to because I haven’t taken the time to really figure out how to get the most out of it. Great post as always, thanks Jenn!

It’s definitely worth getting the hang of! I love that I can still document our life without having to bring my camera everywhere I go.

great blog post for moms!


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