Mastering iPhone photography is all about knowing a few clever tips and tricks: cleaning the lens (something we all forget to do) can make a big difference, while a quick swipe left on your screen can bring up the camera fast, without having to unlock your phone. There are countless ways to elevate your snaps, so we asked three experts for their best advice: Sophie Hansen, a food content creator and Instagrammer from Local Is Lovely; Sergio Dionisio, a former Getty photographer and marketing manager at Academic Group; and Phenie Ooi, a content creator at recipe website The Devil Wears Salad.

1. Forget Filters – Learn to Edit

We’re all partial to slapping a pre-made Valencia filter on a pic before publishing it to Instagram, but should you? Absolutely not, says Sergio. “You’ll get much better results if you tweak it yourself in the camera’s editor,” he explains. “On an iPhone, you’d open the photo, click ‘Edit’ and use the row of icons to lighten shadows or soften direct sunlight. You might also boost the colours or bump up the saturation to make the image ‘pop’, crop things out of the background, or tilt the photo into a better angle.” 

2. Follow the ‘First Forkful’ Rule

Taking iPhone photography of your meal can be improved if you always shoot a full plate.

If you’re snapping a mouth-watering shot of your eggs Benedict, always remember the ‘first forkful’ rule, says Phenie. “You can dig into the meal but make sure it’s not half-eaten when you photograph it; that’s not appetising,” she says. “Our rule of thumb is not to shoot after the first forkful. And don’t forget to check your surroundings before you snap – an ugly background can ruin the photo.” 

3. Embrace the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline photographers use to draw the viewers’ eyes into the photo. The ‘rule’ involves positioning your subject off-centre, so you might position it in the left third or right third of the frame, rather than in the middle. It may help to turn on your smartphone camera’s grid lines (click Settings on the iPhone, scroll down to Camera and toggle the Grid to ‘on’). “Meeting the rule of thirds is the sweet spot for the human eye, so if you’re shooting a landscape, the sky might be two-thirds of the screen, or one third – it gives it far more visual interest,” says Sophie. “On a still life or flat lay, don’t put your item bang in the centre. Align your items along the grid’s intersecting lines, and use odd numbers – so three apples instead of four. It’s more attractive to the eye,” she says.

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4. Ensure Your Flat Lay Is Truly ‘Flat’

An easy iPhone photography tip to remember is to make sure a flat lay is truly flat.

“We shoot lots of salads and we could take 100 photos to get the image we’ll eventually use,” says Phenie. “One clever iPhone tip we use to ensure a balanced flat lay is to hold your phone over the image and line up the two little crosses in the middle of the phone screen. Once they’re perfectly aligned you can capture the shot as a true flat lay; otherwise it’ll be at an angle.” 

5. Experiment With the Portrait Mode

The portrait setting on newer iPhones creates a depth-of-field effect – something you previously couldn’t do on an iPhone. All you need to do to turn it on is open your camera app, swipe to Portrait mode (the word ‘Portrait’ will turn yellow when ready to use) and tap the shutter button to take the picture. “On an older iPhone, a photo you took of a person would have all elements in focus – including the background, too,” says Sergio. “On the newer models, portrait mode blurs the background and sharpens the focal point, bringing attention to that part of the photo. Use it to capture everything from kids to still life; it adds a little dramatic flair to your pics.”

6. Use Natural Light Wherever Possible

An iPhone photography tip for better snaps is to use one-directional light.

Using one-directional light to highlight your subject – be that a person or a still-life – can create brighter highlights or darker shadows for an image that is moody and dramatic. “So you’d put your subject next to a window to get that lovely soft light coming in from one side, rather than just pools of light from everywhere,” says Sophie.

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7. Think About Colours and Textures When Shooting

Using colours, textures, patterns and intricate details in your iPhone photography can add character and atmosphere to your composition, help you to tell a story, and even make the viewer want to touch the photo. That could be anything from a snap of a heavily textured door with peeling paint, a close-up of crocodile skin or a shot of a delicious dish of food 

“This is something we’ve learned in terms of our social engagement – we might put an all-green salad on our socials, but it won’t get nearly the same likes and reactions as a rainbow salad that’s packed with colour and texture,” says Phenie. “In terms of food photography, if someone finds your image so mouth-watering they wish they could dive into the photo and eat it, you’ve done your job!” 

8. Be Guided by Leading Lines

An iPhone photography tip for better photos is to look for visual interest and guiding lines.

Look for elements of visual interest, like a supporting beam in a room or a road that winds through a landscape – these can help guide the eye into the photo, says Sophie. “I also look for strong verticals, like a telegraph pole. I might also photograph directly into the sun, but I will position myself so the sun is behind a pole or a tree, then it throws a bit of light and glow on either side, which can be quite pretty.”

9. Create a Kit to Transform Your Shots

Having a newer phone gives you a huge advantage due to the sophisticated lenses and high-res sensors but inexpensive reflectors or selfie sticks can be incredibly handy too. “We’ve all taken selfies by sticking one arm out, phone in hand, but your face can end up taking up most of the frame,” says Sergio. “A selfie stick enables you to capture a beautiful wide-angle image with yourself and the background view. Some sticks double as mini tripods, making it easy to set the smartphone on portrait mode, pop it on the tripod and get incredibly professional video, too,” he says. “I could only get those results before with professional cameras.”

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