Tips to Take Better Photos With Just Your iPhone

Ever wondered how people's Instagram photos look so crisp and clean...even though they snap them on their phones? Today I wanted to share some hacks on how to step your photo-taking game on the gram while using JUST your iPhone so YOU too can create pretty images. Let's get to it!

Whenever I take photos on my Instagram account with my iPhone, I always shoot in square mode because it automatically makes my photo fit to Instagram. This way I don’t have to worry about awkwardly cropping out someone’s head or legs. I also always have on my grid feature. You can do this by going to settings > photos & camera > grid.

The reason behind this is so I can use the rule of thirds. This fancy phrase just means you are aligning a subject (you, your friends, your coffee, your food, etc) with the guidelines (aka the grid) and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section.

Yep. It’s all about angels. Get creative with them! Don’t feel like you just have to stick with taking a photo from “head on.” Play around with different angles.

  • Food– I recommend taking your yummy food photos from a bird’s eye view instead of head on. If you want an up close shot of your burger, go for it- capture those juicy details!

  • Buildings- Straight on or play around with different angles to capture the unique structures.

  • People– When you’re taking pictures with your friends or your boo thang, have the person taking the pictures step a couple feet back and have them hold their phone up higher up so it get’s y’all at an angle. Have them use the burst setting to take multiple photos so you can pick your favorite. I recommend subtle movements, candid laughing, all that good stuff.

  • Flat Lays/Product Shots– Take these from a bird’s eye view. I usually have to stand up or hop on a stool or stand on a chair haha. #DoItForTheInsta.

Lighting is one of the biggest impacts in having an insta-worthy feed- this can make or break a good photo!

  • I use the Golden Hour app on my phone to determine the best times to shoot for my photo sessions. I shoot between 7-8am and 7-8pm.

  • If I do an afternoon shoot when the sun is really bright, I shoot inside or find a shaded area to make sure the sun will not wash out my subject.

  • Aways look for shade if you're outside and make sure your subject is in full shade so you have even skin tones, especially if you plan to put a filter over your photo.

    Taking Photos Indoors

  • Find Natural Light- If you’re taking pictures inside a darker/low lit area, position your subject to face the window. Find a widow or a doorway whenever you're shooting inside - natural light is key to a clean and crisp photo!

  • Avoid using your flash indoors- The flash washes out your subject, or if it’s a person will give them glowy eyes…or worse, red eye, and washes out their skin.

Taking Photos Outdoors

  • Find Shade– Look for a tree, or a building to block the sun/have the sun “peek out” from it so the sun is not so intense. Be sure to avoid "speckles" from the tree so it doesn't make your skin all shadowy.

  • Don’t Face the Sun directly– not only will you squint, but your face will be washed out and your skin will be uneven shades. Have the sun pointing behind the subject. If you're shooting during golden hour (sunrise & sunset) this will add a nice warm glow to your subject. When you're taking the photo, be sure you (the photographer) aren't creating shade on your subject. 

If you want to make your images really pop, negative space is key. Negative space is the area which surrounds the main subject in your photo (the main subject is known as the “positive space”) Perks of photos with negative space:

  • This makes your feed look clean + minimalist.

  • It draws people’s focus to the subject.

  • Background doesn’t take away from subject.

  • Fun + easy to do once you get the hang of it!


  • Use burst mode when taking action shots.

  • Have your subject move around to create "candid" images - play with your hair, walk, move your arms around, twirl in your dress, swing your bag, etc.

  • Use props! Whenever I don't know what to do with my hands, I make sure to incorporate props- even if it's something as simple as a cup of coffee. It helps tell a story and adds more meaning to your images.

  • Use your Apple headphone volume button to take a photo if you’re wanting to test out a creative angle.

  • Hold down your camera viewing screen to focus on your subject.

  • Avoid using your flash at ALL times – find natural light instead. No one wants red eyes or creepy yellow glowing eyes haha.

  • Avoid using the zoom option – this makes your photos grainy and fuzzy.

  • Use the HDR setting- this takes a series of images, each shot with a different exposure from darkest to lightest. HDR combines the best parts of the three overexposed, underexposed, and balanced shots to create a dramatic image with beautiful shading and highlights.

    Thanks so much for reading this! I hope this helpful for you! Best of luck to your insta-worthy pics. I would love to see your Instagram photos that you take after reading this post. I hope this helps & I can’t wait to see what images you create! :)

Julia MannComment