Saturday 3 January 2015

iPhone photography class - taking better food and restaurant pictures with your iPhone

A few months ago I went to an event hosted by the Ladies in Blogging group on how to take better photos with your iPhone.

The session was run by professional photographer James Madelin and the venue kindly provided by
Gillrays restaurant near the London Eye.

I learnt a lot and really enjoyed looking at James' photos. The information was pitched so it was good for beginners but even people who were quite good at taking photos with their phones (or thought they were) learnt quite a bit. The tips below apply to all smartphones- here is just a flavour of the things I learnt.

Did you know you can actually set the exposure of your phone? You just point it at the subject and touch the screen in the centre of the photo (i.e. the thing you want to be at the correct exposure so the food on a plate in a restaurant for instance) and it will set the exposure. This is how you stop photos of food taken in restaurants from looking too dark but also without having to blind people and draw attention to yourself by using the flash - I wish I knew this years ago!

Another key tip for taking photos of your food in restaurants - that left me going 'doh!' - is that as you will most likely be dining with someone else, get them to turn on the flashlight on their phone and use it to illuminate what you are photographing. It makes for a much better photo than using the flash on your own camera phone.

James also told us about HDR - high dynamic range, and said to make sure this is turned on. Mine seems to default to the off position after every photo. HDR takes three photos within very quick succession and exposes them differently; it then puts all three together so you get detail in both the light and the dark places in the photos. This is a really useful function and again one that I didn't even know existed, let alone used before!

The 'selfie camera' that lets you take a photo of yourself is only about a third the quality of the main camera facing outwards so you are better off turning the phone around and using that camera to take pictures of yourself.

You can use the volume button to take a photo so you can hold the phone like a camera; this is also useful when the angle of the photo means it is hard to press the round 'soft key' at the bottom of the screen.

If you have headphones plugged in to your phone you can also use the volume button on the headphone cable as a shutter release cable.

James stressed the importance of backing up and said that to him, until a photo is in three places it may as well not exist.

Five quick tips from James:
1. get high (with your camera). Don't take every photo at eye level.
2. get down (low) - get your camera into unusual places.
3. get close. As bloggers, you are members of the media so if you are at an event and want to take a photo but there are people in the way or a barrier (unless it is for your own safety), ask if you can get closer.
4. get clean - try to avoid distractions in the background of your photos. Train yourself to notice what else is in the frame of your picture.
5. get tricks - editing is important and there is plenty of free software you can use to improve photos.

Thanks to James and to Ladies in Blogging for hosting the event! It cost £15 for a ticket which included a glass of wine; given the amount I learnt I thought this was very good value.


  1. Sounds great, thanks for sharing your tips.

  2. Wow - some great tips that even translate to Andriod devices! Tnx Caroline.

  3. What a brilliant event Caroline. This is such a helpful post. I have had my phone out checking it all out.... thank you so much for sharing! I will feel far less conspicuous now if I want to photograph dinners out.....

  4. Thanks for sharing these tips Caroline. I've recently upgraded to a new Samsung phone with a very good camera and I'm still getting the hang of it. I didn't really know what the HDR setting was for but I do now :)


Thank you for your comment, all feedback is appreciated - even the negative! However due to a lot of spam comments on this blog I have had to turn on captcha. If you have problems leaving a comment please email me at