How to Take Great Photos With Your iPhone

Included in this support article are photography best practices designed to help you take beautiful photos using your smartphone.

A smartphone can achieve reliable quality photos as long as you have the right practices.

Shoot in RAW

RAW is available for iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max, and newer.

The way professional photos achieve the best highlights and shadows is by using RAW files that are edited to get stunning results. You can do the same on your phone to capture the most detail in your photos.

A RAW file contains all of the information from the moment of capture so that you have the freedom to edit it to include the shadow and highlight details. This gives your photo more dimension and a professional look. Shooting in RAW on your smartphone is optional, but can help you achieve higher-quality images.

This feature is available on select iPhone models. It’s called ProRaw and can be enabled by going to >Settings>Camera >Formats>Apple ProRaw. Apple ProRAW is primarily software-based, so with the help of some third-party apps on the App Store, you can shoot RAW photos with iPhone 11 or older. For instance, Pro Camera by Moment lets you capture iPhone RAW photos.

Turn on HDR Mode

HDR Mode is available for iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 models, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone 12 models, and newer.

With HDR Mode, your camera will take multiple shots at different levels of brightness and then combine them into one shot. 

This will take the brightest areas of the room from the darkest shot that have the most detail, and the areas that would normally be dark in the room will be taken from the brightest exposure shot to bring them out. The result is an image with the best exposure all throughout where the windows are not blown out, and the shadows under furniture are not too dark. 

The newer iPhones such as 11 and up use smart HDR technology by default, and older models have a similar feature called Auto HDR. To have control over this feature you will need to go into your iPhone Settings and turn off this feature. You can do so by going to Settings > Camera > toggle off Smart HDR (or Auto HDR). Once this is off, you can go to your camera, and you will see the HDR icon that you can then select. This will guarantee that your photos are HDR files. 

Shoot on Bright Days

The first trick to a good photo is good lighting. Natural light will give you the best results which means the time of day you shoot your photos (and virtual tour) is crucial.

The best time is in the middle of the day, and ideally, you'll want bright skies with minimal overcast. Rainy or very cloudy days can cause your photos (even if you are inside) to be dark. If you are shooting outside, it's best to shoot on days when the sky is clear. Shooting in the middle of the day guarantees consistency across all of your photos. Sunrises or sunsets change quickly and cause variations in the lighting of your photos.

It is also recommended to keep the blinds or curtains open to let all of the natural light in. If you notice that the images are overexposed, adjust the blinds to get the best ratio of light.   

Take Shots With the Lights On, and Off. 

Start by taking photos with all of the lights on. Indoor lighting can give rooms a homey, inviting look, especially if they’re a warmer color. If you notice that there is too much light coming in from the outside, and the indoor lights are making your shots overexposed, then turn them off and see if the shot looks better with just the natural light.  

Alternate Between a Standard and Wide Lens to Convey Space

When photographing a space, you want to convey the size of the room while also inviting the viewer to get the whole picture. 

iPhones offer a wide-angle feature that will allow you to get the whole room that way you leave nothing to be questioned by the viewer.

To turn on the wide-angle on an iPhone, pinch the screen, and you should see the screen expand to capture more of the space. You can also achieve a similar look by shooting from the opposite side of the room so that the majority of the space is visible. 

If your phone does not have the wide-angle feature, there are also clip-on lenses that you can mount on your phone to give you the same wide-angle effect.

Photograph Two Walls Whenever Possible (Find the Corners)

When capturing real estate, a photo with just one wall will look flat, while a photo with 3 walls can make the room look narrow. The sweet spot is two walls as it will give the photo a three-dimensional feel. 

Stand in one corner of the room and capture the opposite end, this will ensure you get the best shot of the two walls in that room.

Keep it level and steady 

It won’t matter how great the space is or how perfect the environment is for the shoot if the photo is blurry. Make sure to keep a steady hand when taking your photos. If you are using an HDR feature, there will be multiple shots taken at different exposures so the photo may take longer to be captured, and moving the camera too soon will result in a blurry image. 

You also want to keep the phone leveled, and follow the rule of thirds to get a well-balanced image. The rule of thirds means placing the key elements a third of the way into the frame. You can turn on the grid line setting to assist you.

Shoot Horizontally (in Landscape)

Stick with shooting in landscape mode, as most properties are wider than they are taller. Not only will you capture more details in landscape mode, but this will keep your images consistent and more pleasing to look at.

Mind the mirrors 

Keep in mind where the mirrors are when taking your photos (and virtual tour shots) so that you don’t accidentally appear in any reflections. When taking the photo, look to see if there aren’t any reflective surfaces as well, and if there are, position yourself in a way so you are out of the shot.