Even when using an iPhone, you need to know stuff in order to take the best photos.

Like this one here (click to see it large):

Here’s Five Tips for this type of iPhone photo.

  1. Focus, if needed, by tapping the screen on the object you want to focus on.
  2. Adjust exposure as needed by dragging up or down on the screen at that point.
  3. For a macro shot like this, actually back off a little and crop the photo later. This is a key point.
  4. And most importantly, add plenty of light. This needs to be non-direct light. I prefer outside, but out of direct sunlight.
  5. Finally, adjust your crop and white balance, and anything else needed, afterward, by clicking on EDIT.


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The best camera…

…it is often said, is the camera you have on you.

But you need to use it well. I shall share with you an example of an iPhone picture I took, to illustrate this.

To do an iPhone picture is easy. But to do it well, you need to:

  1. Compose well. Do not take a pic with the subject in the centre – use the Rule of Thirds, tilt, get clos, do what you need.
  2. But do not get too close or you will distort.
  3. Light well. Not the intensity – this pic was taken in very low light with no flash – but the direction (I turned the subject to the light and tilter her head up to catch that light)
  4. Post-process – in my case, in Lightroom. First, I converted the image to black and white.
  5. Then I applied an enhanced contrast style.
  6. Then I reduced the noise
  7. But then I applied lots of film grain. Love that grainy look (view full size to see it):

The result:

Model Kim Gorenko (Photo: Michael Willems)

Not a bad shot eh, and taken with an iPhone in low light.

Here is another example, with Selenium Tone style applied (and the same other tuning done):

Model Kim Gorenko (Photo: Michael Willems)

So do not make the mistake of thinking a good photographer is nothing without great equipment. Yes, it expands your possibilities, but if all you have is an iPhone, use it well!


Geo tip

A tip for those of you for whom this is new: about the iPhone.

I use my iPhone camera rather more than I was expecting I would.

Even though I would not want to publish the pictures I take with it, I do take pictures, and then edit them with Chase Jarvis’s Best Camera app.


  • To remember things. Like printed directions, or a bill, or a product I want to buy, or a URL I want to remember. Snap snap: and I have it forever. Easier than writing.
  • To remember student comments like the following from last week (OK, I apologize profusely for blowing my own trumpet but I think since this blog is a free resource, at least I am allowed to do this every now and then. Right?):
Michael Willems Reference

Michael Willems Reference

  • Importantly, to geotag. Whenever you take an iPhone picture, the iPhone embeds the location it was taken at. So for each shoot, I do a quick pic like that to remember exactly where I was.
  • To recall where a client wants me to take a shot. To recall a great shoot location for an upcoming portrait. One snap and the exact location is forever memorised.
  • To track a trip. A snap every hour during a road trip, and like Hansel and Gretel, I memorise a trail for later recollection or blogging.
  • To recall a vendor location.
  • To store a portrait snap to go with address book records.

Like many of these tools the real use only becomes apparent later, when bright people start to think of even better uses. Use your iPhone camera and tell me why and how you use it.

POSTSCRIPT: Can you geotag even when you have no data plan? Yes! You do not see a map, but that does not matter. Your iPhone knows where it is because of the built-in GPS. That needs no data plan.

The best camera…

…is the one you have on you. And it does not have to be an SLR with a 70-200 f/2.8 IS Lens, like this one I am carrying here in Sedona:

Even the iPhone takes nice pictures. Even of my morning coffee.

If you use an iPhone, get yourself a great little app called Best Camera, and edit your pics with a few simple filters. That leads to this more punchy image:

Have fun:

And yes, that was also taken on my iPhone, and slightly finished with Best Camera. See – you don’t always need a $10,000 camera.