For those of you who don’t know me, I am a total phone geek. I immediately purchased the iPhone 11 pro when it came out. Unlike the iPhone 11, it has a telephoto lens which I wanted. This allows you to take pro-level portraits and the ability to zoom in on distant subjects like wildlife and sporting events. The camera on all three of the phones is SUPER impressive whether or not you get the pro, & I wanted to share some photography tips for beginners if you have the iPhone 11 series! If you don’t have the iPhone 11, no worries. You will still get some useful photography tips for beginners throughout this post.

Adjust your settings on your Iphone 11 | 11 Pro | 11 Pro Max

Adjust your iPhone 11 phone camera settings

Open up your settings on your Iphone. Then scroll down and tap on camera. Make sure “Grid” is turned on. Then tap on “Record Video” and choose your video quality. I have mine set to 4K at 60 fps which is the highest video quality you can have. Keep in mind this uses a lot of memory on your Iphone, but the quality of your videos will be INSANE. I also turned on smart HDR at the very bottom of camera settings. This feature blends the best parts of separate exposures into a single photo.

Place an object you’d like your eyes to focus to on the grid line

Composition Tips

There is something called “Rule of Thirds” in photography. Knowing what this means is will help you create well balanced & interesting shots, and I’m going to explain this rule in simpler terms. When you turn on “Grid” in the camera settings, you will have a grid show up when you tap on the camera to take a photo or video (as shown above).

Notice how the tree in the photo above is perfectly aligned with one of the grid lines? This is what I look for when shooting an object or landscape. Placing the object I want to focus on in one of the grid lines. This doesn’t have to be the case every time you take a photo, but it’s proven that your eyes are drawn towards objects in a photo that are placed on one of the grid lines. Same thing holds for shots with a horizon. Notice how I place the horizon on a grid line below:

If your horizons are crooked, make sure to edit and make them straight

Rule of Thirds with Portraits

As a travel blogger, I mostly take photos of landscapes. However, I do take headshots for friends and family when they ask. Swipe left to the “portrait” option after pulling up your camera on your iPhone 11 series. This will blur the background beautifully for your shot. Portrait mode uses the telephoto lens, so a distance of about eight feet away is recommended.

Notice how the grid lines align in a bullseye right on my eye in the photo below. This is how I will usually crop my portrait photos to bring attention to the eyes, whether the subject is towards the left or right of the photo. Taking photos straight on is also an option. However, this switches up the composition and pulls attention to the eyes of the subject.

Focus the grid line on the subjects eye when taking a portrait shot

Camera Tricks: Take a Vertical Panorama

This is a neat little photography tip for beginners. When I learned this trick, I started incorporating it into my shots immediately and I love it! Swipe over to the panorama setting in your phone camera, and hold your phone horizontally instead of vertically. Now pan your camera from top to bottom. Tilt-up towards the sky and pan down to the ground. This will create a beautiful long vertical shot! Here is a photo I took in PA using this technique:

Vertical panorama at Ricketts Glen State Park

Photo Editing Apps

Two of my favorite photo editing apps I use are Adobe Lightroom CC & Snapseed. I recommend watching a beginner youtube video for both just to get an idea of how to use these apps. Once you get used to using Adobe lightroom on your phone, you can look into purchasing different presets online that are sold by many different bloggers and photographers. Presets settings can be copied and pasted to your photos and they will automatically edit them based on whatever style you purchase. You will have to mildly tweak them to fit your particular photo but this is an easy way to get quality edits on your photos. Another application I love to use is TouchRetouch. If you’ve ever had an object in a photo you wanted to remove, TouchRetouch is the answer. I love using this app to remove unwanted options in my photos.

Best time of day to take photos : Golden Hour

If you want to get the perfect shot, the best time of day to take photos is during GOLDEN hour. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s a short period of time after sunrise or before sunset. During this time, the natural lighting is very flattering. It’s one of the best times to take pictures, especially if you’re shooting portraits. Your subject will have a natural warm glow which is ideal and very flattering. It’s great for landscape photography as well if that warm hue is what you’re after. A perfect example of this is photographing the canyons in southwestern USA during golden hour. You will get the most amazing shots with that warm glow against those red/brown rocks.

Golden hour at Mystic Hot Springs in Utah

Tips for Posing

One of the first things I’ll say is if you’re being photographed on a sunny day, you’ll want to face the sun. Try not to have the camera taking photos in the direction of the sun. You’ve probably noticed that if you take a photograph with the sun in the background, your shot is blown out or your subject is hard to spot out. The sun hitting your face gives you a natural glow that will be visible in photos taken of you.

Another tip is to accentuate the parts of your body you love the most. The best kind of poses are natural, so you want to play around and figure out what works best for you. Twirl, laugh, thrown your hands around, try not to look straight at the camera for a unique natural shot. I love to take shots where the person is observing their surroundings or really in the moment not paying attention to the camera. These photos come out the best for my style and what I’m looking to achieve.

Try to have fun with posing!

Live Photo on iPhone 11

I always have live photo turned on when I take pictures. If you look at the screenshot below, the little arrow on the top right is pointing to where you can turn live photo on and off. When you press and hold on your photo in your gallery after taking a picture, you will notice it playback a few seconds of video before and after your shot. The reason I love live photo is that you can actually select a frame from BEFORE or AFTER your picture was taken.

If you accidentally blinked during an amazing photo, you can easily select the frame right before you blinked as your “key photo.” To do this, hit edit on your iPhone in the top right of the photo. Then on the bottom left, you will see the live photo icon again. Go ahead and tap on it. You can then press & hold then slide the white rectangle that shows up to the left or right to select the frame you want! Pretty cool.

Live photo is a neat feature on the iPhone 11 that gives you more flexibility with your photos

Another neat trick I learned with live photo is if you go back to your gallery and view a photo, swipe your finger from the middle of the photo upwards. This will display a menu of effects that you can apply to your photo! You will see Live, Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure as possible options. Long exposure is great to apply to waterfall pictures. You can always revert back to the original if you don’t like how the effect looks. I like to make gifs using this feature, or mini videos to save to my gallery.

Different effects using live photo

Night Mode : iPhone 11

I absolutely LOVE night mode on the iPhone 11 series. It was a game-changer for me after I purchased this phone right before I went to the Grand Canyon. In order to take fantastic night photos with the iPhone 11, make sure you purchase a phone tripod that comes with a Bluetooth remote. You can find many different ones on Amazon! I would say this is absolutely necessary to have in order to take good photos at night.

You will want to set the timer to the longest exposure after putting your phone in night mode. You can adjust the number of seconds before it takes the shot by tapping on the yellow moon on the top left of your screen. I usually set mine to the highest amount of seconds it lets me. You will actually notice the phone switch to night mode the second you are in a dark setting. The phone has to stay very still with no shake to get a shot like this, which is why the tripod is necessary. I was able to get the photo below by using a phone tripod and remote with my iPhone 11 pro.

Night mode capture using the iPhone 11 pro and a phone tripod with Bluetooth remote

Questions or comments about photo editing for beginners? Feel free to comment below and I will work on a second post answering all of your comments! Be sure to subscribe to my mailing list below as well for future posts with photography tips for beginners as well.

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