5 Tips to Take Better Interior Photos Using Your iPhone

Guest post written by Linda Holt. 

As a former professional photographer I know how challenging shooting interiors can be. Everyone wants good photos but not all designers own a good quality DSLR camera or even the skill to use it. What most designers do have though is an iPhone. I no longer use my DSLR at all. Instead, I have learned how to get the most out of my iPhone camera. Here are five tips so that you too can get the best interior shots possible using the iPhone camera.

1. Hold the phone level. 

This sounds very basic but I can't tell you how many times I watch people take out their iPhone, hold it up at eye level and then tilt it either down or up to take the shot. When the iPhone isn't level the resulting image can appear distorted. Do your best to hold the phone on the same level plane as what you are shooting. This may mean getting down on your knees to shoot a detail on the newly installed custom chair or holding your phone over your head to get a photo of the drapery rod finial.

2. Turn off the in-camera flash. 

The in-camera flash is not your friend and should never be used when photographing interiors. If the room is too dark to get a photo without using the flash then an iPhone tripod is required. A tripod will allow for a longer exposure while keeping the image in focus. Professional architectural photographers will bring additional lighting but use it only when necessary and never…ever… do they use on-camera flash.

3. Properly expose the photo. 

More often than not, interior photos come out too dark when you rely solely on the iPhone to determine the exposure. The problem is, the in-camera light sensor will always expose for the brightest part of the image which is usually a window. This causes the rest of the room to go dark.


When this happens you must manually set the expose. To do this, place your finger on any part of the image that is too dark. Hold your finger there for a second or two and a square yellow box will pop up with a small sun icon off to the right.



Now slide your finger up the phone screen to brighten the image. By using this iPhone feature you can make the image as light or dark as you want simply by sliding your finger up or down the screen.



The window will still be blown out but at least the room will be brighter.


4. Make sure your subject is in focus. 

Just as with exposure, the iPhone will focus on what IT determines is the subject. This might work out fine but it could also result in the painting against the back wall being sharp as a tack but the sofa with the thousand dollars worth of custom pillows in the foreground being blurry. Unless that was the intention all along, you want to control the focus yourself. Similar to exposure, the iPhone has a feature that allows you to decide what part of the image will be in focus.



To set the focus use the same step as above to set the exposure. Touch your finger on the area of the screen that you want in focus. Just like with exposure, a yellow box will appear with a sun icon. Now hold your finger there even longer and the box will begin to flash. After a few seconds the flashing will stop and the focus is now locked directly on your chosen subject.

5. Use an editing app to make your image even better.

All pros use some kind of editing program before the photo is declared finished. One advantage to using the iPhone is that there are so many easy to navigate apps for editing. My app of choice is Snapseed which is both free and user friendly. This app makes it a cinch to tweak exposure, increase contrast or saturation and even straighten out converging or diverging lines. So before you post that image take a minute to import it into Snapseed and take it from a good image to a superior image!


I want to stress that I firmly believe you should hire a professional architectural photographer for portfolio shots or for submission for publication. However, if budget doesn't allow for that or the room is not worthy of the expense of a professional then these five tips will give you the best results possible. You can read more iPhone photography tips on my blog  www.lindsholtinteriors.com/blog/ by typing in “iPhone photography” in the search box. Good luck and let me know if these tips improve your photos.


About Linda Holt:

Linda Holt is an interior designer and iPhone photographer living north of Boston. She spent 25 years working as a professional head shot photographer before going back to school for interior design in 2008. Today she uses her skilled photographic eye to create her signature style of fresh, colorful and edited rooms. She is passionate that her designs reflect her client's personality and life style while incorporating her love and expertise with color and art. She started her blog, Linda Holt Interiors, in 2011 as a way to merge her two loves of photography and design.

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