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Something we realized when we started this little blog: good photography is hard.  Courtney and I don’t own fancy cameras, so any shots on here that aren’t taken by professionals, are snapped with our iPhones.  Is that even acceptable? Well, we figured we’d bring in the expert to weigh in.  Much of the exceptional photography you see on LRW (here and here) is Craig’s handywork, so he and I sat down to chat about what our iPhone cameras can actually do for us…

1. Can my camera phone actually take decent pictures?


Absolutely. We all know how the technology has improved, but the real advantage is the technology combined with the portability. Our cameras are always on us. It’s a misconception that quality can’t be achieved without top-end tools. If YOU can take a decent picture (which you can), then your phone most definitely can.

2. What’s your biggest piece of advice for a photography novice armed with only an iPhone?

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Keep shooting. And I say that because it’s the advice that I’ve always run into from everyone else. And it’s true. You never see all the images that get scrapped by a photographer. There are far more of those than money shots.

Also, make sure your photography speaks to you. Soak in all the inspiration you can. But, once you’re out there shooting, just listen to the environment and what it’s bringing to you. You don’t have to have a great shot in mind. You just have to be there and ready when it happens.

3. What photo apps should I be downloading besides Instagram?


I’m obsessed with VSCO. It’s a beautifully designed app that emulates classic films. Used right, it is clean and captivating. You can upload your images to any social site or to your own VSCO Grid, which is free of any likes, comments, or followers. It’s all about the images.

I still use Snapseed, too. It has some very deep, very intuitive tools that, if you have the patience and time to tinker with, can produce some outstanding results.

With any photo app, make sure you’re not just putting some filter OVER your image. Use your editing to compliment qualities that are already there.

4. Any photography no-no’s that I should be aware of (unflattering angles, etc)?

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Well, lighting is key. It’s also the essence of every image: Capturing light. So notice it. Use it to your advantage. Let it play a role in the image. Be wary of using your flash if it’s not necessary. Cell phone flashes are notoriously cruddy and can drown out color.

Also, get as close to your subject as possible. This will give you the highest quality image. Most camera phones only have “digital zoom,” which means that zooming in on your subject only zooms in on those pixels, blurring and distorting the image. If your phone has “optical zoom,” go crazy.

Lastly, be conscious of your framing. Everything in the image says something. Your framing is your directing of the viewers’ eyes. Simple tried and true guidelines like the rule of thirds (Don’t place your subject right in the middle, but a third of the way in.) can really make your image stand out.

5. Okay I’ve got the iPhone stuff down, where can I learn more about photography in general?


Definitely check out the VSCO Journal on their website. It’s full of photographer profiles, fantastic interviews, and helpful tips. Most importantly, there is a constant stream of gorgeous imagery to take inspiration from.

For more technical help, I’m reading a lot of Photo Argus right now. It features a lot of good articles on shooting in specific scenarios, as well as some great insight for anyone looking to take their photography the professional route.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules. Experiment and find out what speaks to you.

Thank you, Craig! Anyone else feel a little more inspired and creative after that?  Especially knowing that Craig shot all of the pictures in this post with his iPhone! How cool is that?

We would love to see what you can do with your iPhone, so this week, let us see what you’ve been shooting by tagging @littleredswell on Twitter and posting to our Facebook page! Click, click!

© Craig Hanson Photography |

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