How to Use Your iPhone Camera to Take Amazing Photos

I often get asked what camera I use to shoot my Instagram photos and the simple and honest answer to that is I mostly use my iPhone 6s. I would love to shoot with my camera more often but to be honest it is not always practical when I’m out and about with the kids and have to juggle a camera in one hand and a child or two in the other hand (like most days). My phone however is always with me, it’s small and light enough and I can just quickly slide it in my back pocket whenever I need to quickly attend to them.

This post will hopefully give you a few simple but slightly more technical tips on how you can use your iPhone camera to take great photos so you can start taking better photos with your iPhone right now!

Use iPhone Camera to Take Amazing Photos

Focus and Exposure

If you thought your iPhone was just another point and shoot devise think again. With the iPhone you can set focus and control exposure too. Yes, it really is true and much easier to do than when you are using a DSLR camera. So how do you do this? Easy.

To set focus for your photo all you need to do is tap the screen (an yellow square with a sun will appear then). If you are taking more than one photo with the same focus you will need to lock focus otherwise the iPhone will always reset it’s focus. To lock focus you need to tap and hold until  (on your desired focus spot) you see AE/AF LOCK in a yellow box at the top of the screen. AE = Automatic Exposure and AF = Auto Focus. This feature may be particularly handy when you focus on your subject and then something else changes in the scene (a bird flies past, a big splash from a wave crashing on the rocks or even just someone else walking past). With AE/AF LOCK the camera won’t accidentally re-adjust the focus and exposure onto anything else.

White Carnations - Beautiful Flowers
Focus set on the bottom flower. You can see that flower in a lot of detail but the rest of them are slightly blurred.
Brother and sister walking along the beach
The focus here was locked on the children because I didn’t want it to accidentally re- adjust onto the reflections on the water or the people walking by.


Simply put, exposure refers to how light or dark the photo is (of course there is more to it than this but for the purpose of this post this explanation is enough). Your iPhone will automatically select the best exposure depending on where you tap to focus. If you tap on a light area the camera will ensure that area is well exposed. If you tap a dark area the same thing happens. However sometimes you want to expose one area and focus on another completely different area and this is when adjusting the exposure comes in handy.

To adjust the exposure simply slide your finger up or down on the screen and you will see the sun icon next to the focus box moving accordingly. When adjusting the exposure you should make sure that no part of the scene is totally white or black as the camera won’t be able to capture any detail in those parts.

Use HDR Mode 

This is probably my favourite tip. I came across HDR on my iPhone by accident while looking though some photos I had snapped. As I looked through my photos I noticed that some were HDR on the left hand corner and others were not. So I decided to investigate. The reason why this happened is because I had my camera HDR button on auto and it so happened that while I was shooting some of my photos were automatically taken using HDR.

So, what is HDR? HDR (High Dynamic Range) essentially takes 3 differently exposed photos (ranging from light to dark) and combines them to create a perfect exposed photo with amazing shadows and highlights.

HDR is great for when you are photographing scenes with a lot of sky, landscapes or whenever you are struggling to get a decent exposure because the highlights in the photo appear too light and the shadows too dark.

Non HDR Photograph - Cloudy Day at the Beach
Non HRD Photograph
HDR Photograph - Cloudy day at the beach
HDR Photograph- There is a lot more detail (highlights and shadows in the clouds on this photograph than on the non HDR one above.
Non HDR photograph of Se do Porto - Portugal
Non HDR Photograph
HDR Photograph of Se Do Porto - Portugal
HDR Photograph – The balance in this photos is a lot better than in the one above. You can see more detail on the buildings and the tree.


To enable HDR on your iPhone just look to the left on your camera screen. Tap HDR to select auto, on, off. I normally have my HDR off and will only turn it on when I want to use it.

Please note that HDR doesn’t work well with movement because it is essentially a blend of 3 consecutive photos so if there is movement blurring may occur.

Use Burst Mode to capture action shots

If you ever tried to capture photos with moving people or objects you will know that its really hard to get a good quality photo that is not blurred. I always find that by the time I press the shutter button the moment has gone and all I’m left with is a very blurred photo that I can’t use or want to keep!

The Burst Mode on your iPhone is the best way to avoid blurred action shots. I always use it when photographing my children, birds, water and even people walking by. This is how I manage to capture sharp images of my children playing, splashing, dancing or even simply laughing.

Action shot - Dancing in the sea

Action shot - Pouring a bucket of water in puddle

Action Shot - Twirling around on the beach


To activate Burst Mode, hold down the shutter button for a couple of seconds, and the iPhone will start taking photos one after another. All you need to do then is choose the best photo from that particular burst.

Of course there are a lot of other less technical ways you can use to take great photographs and technical knowledge is not everything but you know it doesn’t hurt to have a couple more tricks up your sleeve right?

I hope you have found this post interesting and useful. I would love to know what you think so please do leave me a comment below. Do you ever use any of this iPhone camera features? Or do you use your iPhone as a point and shoot camera?

Love, P

Learn how to take amazing Iphone photos for your blog, instagram or just for yourself.

How to use your Iphone camera to take Amazing photos

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  1. Thanks for this. I also use an iPhone 6s. I knew about the second two tips, but not the first one. You learn something new every day!

  2. Thank you! I take all my blog photos on my iPhone and have been learning how to use it by trial and error. It’s great to have all of this in one place. 🙂

  3. That’s amazing that you get that kind of quality from your iPhone! I no longer have an iPhone, but I should check to see if my Android phone has any hidden features that can make my camera photos look better. I have a proper camera too, but usually it’s more convenient to use my phone. #stayclassymama

  4. I wish my phone had a better camera, definitely something I’ll focus on next time I buy one #stayclassymama

  5. Wow! I didn’t realize how good the camera on the iphone was! I should try some of these tips and catch some good ones of the kids!

  6. I can’t believe some of these pictures were taken with a camera phone! The one of the flowers is incredible. And I love the kids at the beach with the water flowing. Thanks again for sharing your secrets. If only we could all have your eye. #StayClassyMama

  7. I recently got a camera for my birthday but now I’m back at work I don’t get as much time to use it. Fab tips that I had completely no idea about! #stayclassymama

  8. Thanks very much for this, I always wondered what the HDR meant! I only have an iPhone 6s and no camera, so this post for me is invaluable. Thank you for sharing your tips xx

  9. I take most of my photos on my phone too, I didn’t think about using burst mode though! I tried it last night after reading this and got the perfect shot of my three, thank you! #stayclassymama

  10. So helpful! I hadn’t really used HDR before but will do it now, I actually have the Google pixel but my work phone is an iPhone so I get the best of both worlds haha! #ablogginggoodtime

  11. Great tips! I knew tap to focus but I’d I didn’t know about locking it and adjusting exposure. I always use the burst feature on moving shots now after discovering it by accident while trying to get a picture of my daughter on the trampoline, I couldn’t believe the difference x

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