Today’s post comes out of a conversation with one of my wedding album clients, who is trying to think ahead for a future baby book.  She asked,

“We basically take all pics with our iPhones these days, just because they are always handy. Are they going to look totally crappy if we want them in a baby book later? I’m wondering if I should make an effort to take them with my camera.”

Great question!  The short answer is, “Nope!”  But that doesn’t make for a good blog post, does it?

I did a lot of research before deciding to purchase an iPhone myself.  I am a PC devotee, not a Mac user, so it was a big commitment for me.  But I specifically wanted a phone with a strong camera for when my baby was born.  Because I am me, this involved a metric ton of research, and all of my Google-fu skills.  In the end, I decided on the iPhone S5.  It does surprisingly well in low-light conditions, and it has a great dual-flash that helps even out skin tone in those situations where you absolutely must use flash.

So yes, I think an iPhone (or most modern high-end phones) can take GREAT photos.  There is no reason to assume the photos will look bad in a photo book next to a “real” camera’s photos.  If you want to really up your iPhoneography game, there is a world of help out there.  You can even buy neat little lenses that snap onto the iPhone itself!  In the short term, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Try to avoid filters, or at least use them consistently.  My husband and I haven’t really followed this, and sometimes his Chrome-filtered shots look odd next to my unfiltered ones.
  2. Remember to turn the phone to the side sometimes.  iPhones are terrible for encouraging everyone to shoot in vertical mode.  With still shots, it’s not a big deal, although you will want some more variety.  But PLEASE, I beg you, do not shoot video in vertical mode.  Vertical videos only look good on iPhones.  They require manual rotation when you get them on a computer and they still look very strange.
  3. I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s worth repeating: avoid using your flash.  It usually looks awful, and you were usually better off without it.

Of course, if you have the chance to use a “real” camera, you probably will get better results. There is only so much a camera phone lens can do, and standalone cameras often handle tricky lighting and coloring situations better.  And you can get some neat bokeh with a camera (that’s the blurry background you often see in nice portraits). But I wouldn’t stress out about it.  The best camera is the one you have with you.  And let’s face it, when isn’t your phone with you?