Instagram tips: why I love shooting iPhone

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My love affair with the iPhone was born out of convenience. Heavily pregnant and desperately nesting, I had no time or energy to pull out my DSLR & go through the rigmorall of hooking it up to the churning harddrive of my aging computer.

At the same time, I kept seeing tutorials on Pinterest for taking better iPhone shots. This immediately appealed; I knew that amazing iPhone photos existed, and the convenience and in-built excuse to never put my phone down ticked all the right boxes in my mind.
Although those tutorials, as it turned out, weren’t massively enlightening, they inspired me enough to get me started. & then, like anything, I just kept trying & learning & practicing, and quickly fell in love.

There’s a charm to the flaws in an iPhone photograph. Like a Lomo light-leak or a Diana colour cast, the iPhone cam has its own tell-tale foibles & features that years from now we might add a preset to recreate. High-quality DSLR photographs are undeniably beautiful – and there are many occasions when only my Canon will do – but an iPhone photograph has its own unique brand of magic too.

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Strange as it may sound, I find the limitations set by the iPhone liberating. I’ve often found that constraint somehow encourages creativity – when not every picture is possible, you have to work more imaginatively to create the image.

Photography can be a bit of an ‘old boys club’. There can be a fair amount of snobbery – who has the best kit, following the rules & ratios. Undoubtably the traditional ways work brilliantly for many, but they also invariably lead to that style of image that is so prevalent on amateur photography forums online: high def, over-saturated landscapes; Mountain bikes and sports cars silhouetted against the sun. Lots and lots of photographs of birds, doing bird-like things.

Technically they’re very accurate and impressive, but for the most part, they’re desperately lacking in heart and soul.

Procesth VSCOcam with a9 preset

iPhoneography turns a lot of that on its head. In smartphone photography, everyone had the exact same piece of basic kit. The variables are limited, but creativity is not: it’s a level playing field where composition and imagination take centre stage, and the old rules don’t really apply. It’s no longer about how long you spent studying: instead, it’s about what you see, about photos that make people think and feel and smile. The picture means more than the process, I suppose.

There are lots of photographers sharing DSLR work on Instagram and many are super talented and worth following. Yet the accounts that most excite and inspire me are always iPhone only. iPhone photographers are redefining the pro-photography world – yep, we’re getting paid for this – and photography is changing because of it.

But really, when did we decide that convenience was a bad thing? When did the aim become to make creativity and art as inaccessible as possible, an exclusive club that only the elite could buy into?
iPhoneography is totally open access. It may be pink glitter playdoh to the ceramicist’s fine porcelain clay, but in the right hands, it can still make something beautiful. & it’s right there, in your pocket, ready to go πŸ™‚

  • Great post! I love taking pictures on my iPhone, but it’s usually accompanied by the feeling that I’m a photography Philistine someone. I’ve never considered it a leveller before.

    • Thanks Mark! Bah, that feeling of fraudulence/ being a philistine drives me nuts. That’s just what they want you to think πŸ˜‰ x

  • My favourite thing about using my iPhone is the convenience and using VSCO to edit – we have a long standing love affair. The thing that annoys me most is grain… You know when it’s just slightly too dark to get a good shot and the shadows in the photo look grainy as all hell? I rely on my phone for blog photos because I don’t have a DSLR and I feel like people know I’m ‘cheating’!

  • Fi Cooper

    Convenience – my phone is always with me. Even when I had my quite little compact it would invariably not be in my bag, or not be charged up (it seemed to need frequent feeding!) like the phone is.

    I don’t have an iPhone, but a Nokia Lumia, I’m sure there are vast differences in what the camera does and is (certainly not as powerful) but it takes really good pictures. Taking so many more pictures on the phone is making me think about about light like I never used to before, and I think it’s making me a better photographer, though I would probably never refer to myself as that!

  • phoebefordreid

    Love, love, love this post! Your description of the over-saturated landscapes, sports cars against the sun and bird photos lacking heart is just how I’ve felt for a while now. I used to drag my DSLR everywhere, spend tons of time processing and then posting to online sites. Now I much prefer to shoot with my i-phone, do a little bit of editing and then keep going. I’d rather see an imperfect photo that has soul and tells me a story than a technically perfect but sterile shot any day of the week.
    I now have a little Pentax camera that I take me with when I travel but honestly I rarely use it. I love the ease and convenience of my iphone and the fact that it takes up no room at all in my bag. Who wants to carry around a bunch of heavy gear when you’re out exploring? Plus I love being able to shoot, edit and post all from one device. And it really does make me think outside the box in order to get the best shot that I can with the camera that I have on hand.

    ps – I just recently found your blog and instagram and I must say that I enjoy both so much. You’re at the top of the list of posts and photos that I look forward to πŸ™‚

  • Couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said, there’s really something liberating about shooting with an iPhone and that’s the main reason why I love it so much. On a daily basis I work with my DSLR and also film and polaroids but sometimes my mind needs a break from all of that and that’s when the good old iPhone comes into the game. I love wandering around town with it and capture all of those special little moments which tend to pass super quickly so you don’t really have the time to set up everything on your DSLR in order to make it work. And perfection is sooo boring anyways so that’s why I’ll never give up on iphoneography. Actually, with every new day I love it even more πŸ™‚

  • Well said – for me the sheer advantage of my phone is that it is with me. Yes there are limitations but without the phone a lot of my pictures would never happen

  • I completely agree photography is changing and it’s becoming accessible to everyone. iPhone’s have not only changed our images but they way in which we look at the world, I find that I stop more to take in and appreciate my surroundings. I am forever whipping my phone out to take a quick snap, and that snap although most likely very imperfect, is a moment in time that will forever conjure up many memories. Memories that I would probably forget after a few months, years or decades. πŸ™‚

  • IshaRa Deborah Coulthard

    YES!!! You nailed why I gradually swapped from DSLR to iPhone…the technical simplicity and limitation of the phone liberates my creativity!! AWESOME isn’t it. I haven’t ventured into the world of Instagram yet…..kind of feels like it will suck me in and never let me out again LOL πŸ˜€