You have an iPhone, and you have Instagram. Now you’re wondering how you can take better photos, without putting lots of time and money into it. We understand you want to capture your memories and share your experiences with your friends, which is why we’ve brought together some of our favorite (and super simple) iPhone photography tips. Try them out, and you’ll see why we use these ideas all the time.

1. Use the grid to help compose your shot.

Go to your settings, select “Photos & Camera” and toggle on grid. When you go back to your camera, you’ll have a 3x3 grid on your screen. A common mistake budding photographers make is placing their object in the center of the shot. A photography principle called the Rule of Thirds says that images with off-center focal points are more visually interesting, and can help create the impression of movement. The grid breaks your screen into thirds, helping you compose a more captivating photo by lining up elements of the photo with the gird.
Notice how the horse and rider line up with the bottom left intersection. The empty space in the top right along with the lines of the horse and the landscape reinforce the impression that the horse is moving in that direction.

2. Tap the screen to manually adjust the focus.

Having a hard time getting your phone to focus on the right object? Tap the screen at the place you want in focus. You can tap and hold to lock that focus in place, which gives you the ability to move yourself or your subjects around a bit without losing your focal point. Tap anywhere else on the screen to unlock the focus. Here’s an example:
In this photo the bud in the back is in focus.

Here I tap on the rock to get the camera to focus on the foreground:
The yellow square shows what the phone is focusing on.
Notice how neither the rock or the flower perfectly matched up with the grid? Don’t get overly fussy with the rule of thirds. I just used it as a guide to help me place the two objects near intersections. And sometimes you’ll want a photo to look symmetrical. That’s ok!

3. Use the volume buttons to take selfies.

Either button will take a photo when your camera is open, so it’s a good option when it feels awkward or unstable to reach your thumb to the middle of the screen.

4. Use your headphones as a remote shutter.

Since most headphones include volume adjusters, they also work to take photos. This is a great idea for taking shots where you need a really steady hand, like for a close-up with a tripod, or if you want the camera to be a little farther away from your face for a selfie.

5. Adjust the exposure before you take the shot.

When you tap the screen, you’ll notice a little sun icon next to the square. Press the sun and drag it up or down to adjust the exposure. This will tell the camera how much light to let in, which helps in bright or dark settings. Here’s a good tutorial with photos.

6. Use the Photos app to do basic editing.

Don’t worry about paying for apps just yet! (In fact, stay tuned for a post in the future about excellent free photo editing apps.) The built-in editor is a great tool for making natural-looking enhancements. Crops are easy, with options for free form or preset ratios (including square for Instagram), and the color and lighting adjustments are easy to use.
Here’s a photo I took with the CamRah wide angle lens that is included in the 3 in 1 kit. Don’t worry that it has black around the edges. We’ll crop that out! Even after cropping, we will still have more of the setting in the shot than without the lens. (Our Pro Series lens is wide enough to eliminate this step altogether.)

I didn’t set this up very well with my model in the middle of the shot, but we can fix that.

It’s really easy to play around with the color and lighting sliders. If you want to get fancy, tap the bulleted list icon on the bottom right to open up more specific controls.

We can tap/hold the photo to compare our edits to the original.

If you like filters, there are a few good ones on the app, although you won’t be able to adjust the strength of the filter like you can with some other apps. Here’s one I like:

Bonus tip: If you go in from your photo stream rather than the camera roll you’ll be able to duplicate the photo to save the original. Otherwise it will save over your original.

We hope you’ll find these tips useful, but this is by no means a comprehensive list of ways to improve your iPhone photos.

What are some other tips you use to make the most of your iPhone?