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iPhone Photography Tutorial

Page 1: Getting Started

Welcome to’s critically acclaimed iPhone Photography Tutorial. In the following 12 pages you will find everything from the apps I use and tips to my recommended work-flow. It’s no secret that I love iPhoneography. You can read more about my reasoning here. In the past I have received quite a few questions about my iPhone photography so I decided to put this tutorial together. The goal of this tutorial is simple, to help you make cool images with your iPhone that you are excited to share with the world! It has taught thousands of people, and I hope you are one of them.

This is a living document and I will update it a couple times a year. When I do, I’ll post the updates via our various social outlets, so make sure to follow, like, or circle )

Get My Book – The Complete Guide to iPhone Photography

Big World Little Lens - The Complete Guide To iPhone Photography

The Complete Guide to iPhone Photography

$9.97 Get it for your iPad (click here to find it in iTunes)

Big World Little Lens - Justin Balog

Don’t Have an iPad? Don’t worry. You can get it for all other devices at

A wise person once told me..."It's the one you have with you...." Those words echoed in my head when my phone and I stumbled upon this moment.

Table of Contents

  • Page 1: What You Need
  • Page 2: Organizing Your Apps
  • Page 3: Work-flow Overview
  • Page 4: The Apps – Photoshop Express
  • Page 5: The Apps – Tilt Shift Generator
  • Page 6: The Apps- The Best Camera
  • Page 7: The Apps – TIffin FX PRO
  • Page 8: The Apps – 100 Cameras in 1
  • Page 9: The Apps – Camera Plus
  • Page 10: The Apps – Vintage Scene
  • Page 11: The Apps – Snapseed
  • Page 12: iPhoneoloio (aka Portfolio)

iPhone Photo iPhone Photography

What You Need!

Before we get started, you will need to get yourself a couple of apps. Here is a list of apps I use, just click on the link and the iTunes store should fire up and let you buy them. The complete system only costs $8.96. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the Leica SP2. As you will see on the next page, I have quite a few more apps on my phone, however these are the ones I will use in this tutorial.

Note:Anywhere you see an iTunes icon you can click on it and it will load the app up in the iTunes store for you to purchase.

  • Instagram - Burbn, – Get it and create and account! It is totally free. It is like twitter for your camera. Not only can you quickly share photos, you can follow your friends and favorite photographers. Heck, you can even follow me. Just search for JustinBalog and click the follow button.
  • Camera Awesome - SmugMug Camera! (Camera Awesome) Camera Awesome, is just that….awesome! It not only provides both powerful capture tools and endless editing possibilities, Camera Awesome can back up your memories to the cloud! Now that is awesome! If your not a SumgMug user, you can use the coupon code HOSSEDIA to save yourself 20% at sign up!
  • Snapseed for iPad - Nik Software, Inc.Snapseed – You could probably stop reading here and just get Snapseed. It is an iOS tool so you can use it on your iPad, Mac, and iPhone for one easy payment of $4.99. It was also developed by really smart engineers who were smart enough to make it super powerful, but totally easy to use. If your iPhone app budget is only $5.00, just get Snapseed. It is awesome!
  • iPhoto - AppleiPhoto – If you like iPhoto on your Mac, why not add it to your iPhone?
  • PhotoTiffen Photo FX – Not only do you get a great group of filters (GNDs, NDs, Polarizers, UV, etc…), you get masks, brushes, and layers. All that for $2.99. You can’t beat it!
  • Best – An app, developed in tandem with Chase Jarvis, that allows you to capture, edit, and share all your images single-handedly. Plus, the online community you get access to is a great way spend some time in a waiting room. I’m photographer #15879 and you can find me here.
  • Adobe Photoshop Express – Yep, there is CS5, Elements, and now Express. The app is free and lets you control global adjustment like contrast, saturation, tint, etc. You can also share your images via your own personal online galleries.
  • TiltShift Tilt Shift Generator – I really can’t get enough of this app. Sometimes I use it to fake bokeh. Or, if you just want to make everything you see appear to be part of your model railroad you can do that too.
  • 100 Cameras in 1 - Stuck In Customs 100 Cameras in 1 This is a great little app. It serves three important purposes. 1) It is a quick 1 stop shop to enhance your images (click, add filter, and your done!). 2) It has international textures. Yep, Trey Ratcliff assembled textures from around the world for this one. 3) I think it is the only app that offers game center capabilities. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but once I unlock some hidden treasures I will let you know!
  • Camera+? - tap tap tapCamera Plus Not only does this app offer a complete work-flow from stylizing to framing, it also boasts some very cool features to improve your capture. You know, things like stabilizers, burst mode, and the best of all…exposure and focus separation controls!
  • VintageScene - JixiPix SoftwareVintage Scene – Add a vintage and aged vibe to your moden day photos with Vintage Scene.

Apps not referenced in the tutorial, but cool nonetheless

  • Pro Pro HDR –You thought HDR photography was limited to a bunch of tripod totin’ photographers? Now it’s available to iPhone totin’ folks like you and me. Just take two images, and let Pro HDR do the rest. Heck, it even prompts you to tap somewhere bright for the first image, and somewhere dark for the second image.
  • Hipstamatic Hipstamatic – Keep it real with a configurable camera that let’s you choose film, lens, and flash types. You can get a fully outfitted kit for under $10.00!
  • Pano Pano- Don’t have a wide enough lens? Let Pano stitch together up to 16 images to capture your latest summer landscaping project. Not only does it stitch, if offers an overlap feature to help line up your images during capture.
  • iTimeLapse iTimeLapse Pro – Now you can shoot and assemble avant-grade ‘still-cinema’ time lapse videos using your iPhone. You don’t even need sequential scenes. You can assemble a movie that spans an entire year. It will even remind you to take a photo!
  • PhotoCalc PhotoCalc – A great pocket utility to calculate flash exposure and DoF. It aslo includes a location based Solar chart. Never miss a sunrise or sunset again!
  • LongTime Long Exposure Calculator – Do you have a 10 stop neutral density filter? If so, you need this. Just plug in your exposure value prior to attaching the 10 stop ND, then scroll to your new time per stop. It is easy to use and frees up your brain creative brain by reducing the math load!

Gear Up!

By itself, the iPhone is an amazing creative tool. However, there is an entire industry emerging around iPhone Photography, so don’t hesitate taking advantage of it. Keep your eyes open for new tools and technologies that will help you have fun and expand your creative horizons. Whether it is batteries to help you take more photos or lenses to change your perspective, don’t limit yourself.

Olloclip, Glif, Mophie

  • Mophie – It’s 1/2 battery and 1/2 case. The perfect way to extend your creative adventure.
  • Glif – A convenient bracket to attach your iPhone to your tripod.
  • Olloclip – 3 lenses in 1! Just slip them over the corner of your iPhone and you have a wide-angle, macro, and fisheye lens at your disposal.
  • Gorilla Pod – An easily adjustable tripod that can mount to pretty much anything.
  • Telephoto Lens – Get closer without losing any precious megapixels.

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  1. Nice reference of photo tools. Lots of good info and some great picture in there. You’ve inspired me to get the brick out of my pocket and start taking pictures with it.

  2. Richard (oldhickory) says:

    Hey Justin.. you’ve done an awesome job on this! I don’t even own an iphone, but I’m almost tempted to go out and get one just to play around with this stuff. Super toy value!

  3. Thanks guys, I’m glad you both enjoyed the tutorial. For the droid owners, my friend has a great app on his that does everything all these apps do. I will have to ask him what it is and get back to you.

  4. As promised, the Android app I was referring to is called Vignette. A friend of mine has it and it looks pretty cool. I think it is about $3.99?

  5. Just wondering whether I can run out and buy an iPhone to take to Georgia with me very soon – WITHOUT having to hook up with an ISP until I get back home?

    I know I won’t be able to download any apps, but surely I can download iPhone images directly to my MacBook Pro laptop via a USB cable?

    • I would assume you could. Are you thinking about getting an iPhone, without a service, then using it on your trip? I believe the camera would still work, not sure why it wouldn’t? I would ask the retailer to confirm. Then, when you get back you could get the apps I have listed and edit your photos. I can confirm that all the apps I have listed in the tutorial work by editing from you camera roll. However, Pano and HDR Pro require you to use them at the point of capture.

      Hope that helps. Have a great trip!

      • Thanks, Justin. Yes, I’d get the iPhone, use it as just a camera on my trip and then get a service provider – and the apps when I got home. I’ll ask the retailer – maybe they don’t sell them without a service contract, lol.

        Anyway, thanks so much for your tutorial. I can hardly wait to get started.

  6. Your images are powerful, attractive, and inspirational. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  7. I Embrace Over the Top!

    Whenever I learn a new technique I love to experiment, and TURN UP THE VOLUME. Sometimes I look back at these ‘experiments’ and think yuk, “Did you really have to mess with the white balance so much that the clouds are various shades of grey, purple and pink? I mean what were you thinking! Couldn’t you see what you were doing?! Were you legally blind that day?!”

    Then there were times, where I was pushing the limit to the extreme, and I look at those images and gasp, “Oh, I wish I had taken more pictures that day!”[i] I wish I had processed more images when I was in that frame of mind! I couldn’t do anything wrong that day! I should have bought a lottery ticket!”

    Those are the presets that I backup and name crazy things like “Hug Bruce Lanai” because the little boy was hugging a stuffed animal named Bruce on the lanai when I was ‘Wonder Woman with a Camera,’ and every picture I took was golden. Incredibly, the photography gods further smiled on me with an AMAZING raw editing session where I yanked[ii] every slider until I found that magical image I was looking for.

    I remember one of those golden days, where I took all my rejects and experimented to the max. I did things no self-respecting photographer would do, certainly not one who had been properly trained. The crazy thing is, my rejects became works of art. I showed stuff that I would normally delete to anyone I could. And they wanted to know how I did it! They were awed by my rejects!
    Snobby Professionals (change this headline please!)[iii]

    I went to photography boot camp, ugh, I admit it. Yes, I learned things I still use today, and I am so grateful for those skills! I also got to know a snobby and jaded photographer.

    He said that if he is happy with two images a year, he was doing great. I thought, “Are you kidding? I love my pictures! I get an immense amount of joy out of taking them, editing them, printing them, watching them on Apple TV, sharing them with people, and making gifts. If getting to his skill level means I will only like two images I create a year, I’m bailing ship! I don’t want to be him, I want to love and enjoy what I create!”

    I do understand his oversaturation of photography to a certain extent. When you do one thing ALL THE TIME it gets boring. You start to look for the unusual, the exotic, the thing that no one else has done. Given the internet and our knowledge of the world, that’s a pretty high bar.
    So where does that leave me?

    Enjoying the path.

    I love photography. I love creating beautiful images, that when I show them to people they gasp with delightful shock.

    Sharing and getting praise is fabulous. But the thing that makes me put my finger on the shutter, and yank those sliders, is some little voice, a magical, artistic muse, that wants to play. She wants to do crazy, some times beautiful, sometimes-tacky things, and I love her.

    XO my dear Muse, thank you for being a part of my life. Please help me hold onto you and never look back!

    You keep me forever young.


    PS. End notes because yes, even though I have this amazing Muse, I also have an Inner Nerd, that is equally as cool, and I love and need you just as much! You rock my shy but brilliant nerd!

    I have both the left and the right side of my brain and I plan on keeping them, meaning I don’t want to focus on just one skill set. I don’t buy into the whole “You have to be out of your mind to be good.” I’m going with you just have to have the inspiration, muse and nerd, in your mind, those lovely inner voices churning all the time because they want to be heard, and cooperating because they know that is the only way to get to the physical world. Wow, now that was deep and mysterious. No, no drugs involved, just letting the players play.

  8. Emilio Canosa Maldonado says:

    Excelente Tutorial. Gracias.
    Llevo algún tiempo experimentando con iPhone y cada día me sorprende más.
    La app que más uso últimamente es cámera+ y tratamientos con Snapseed, PhotoFX, Grungetastic…y otras.
    También utilizo ProHDR y para Panorámicas Mosaica y 360.
    Mi página en Flickr es;
    Y el Grupo que administro en Flickr “iPhoneros España”;
    Saludos y Gracias.

  9. Emilio Canosa says:

    No problem.
    Congratulations for the tutorial.

  10. brenda piccirilli says:

    i love your photos! i wish i had a good eye for photograpy. my commute to work is very scenic and loaded with photo ops; however, too often what i see gets lost in the photo ‘translation’. (i’ll get a good shot once in a while). my iphone is the 3gs and i fell in love with the camera instantly-in fact i rarely use the digital camera i bought six months before i got the phone!-but most of the time the camera takes too long to load and i end up missing a shot :/

  11. I love these photos. I’ve always wanted a Leica SP2, but you are right about the aps being much cheaper!

  12. Susan lawrence says:

    Justin, I’d love for you to email me and let me know if I can provide a link to this tutorial on my instagram page on facebook, and our community instagram feed,
    and perhaps on my personal (NOT professional) photography blog as well. Please let me know!

  13. Paulo Ottoni says:

    Amazing tutorial with very usefull information. Unfortunately your book isn’t available for those, like me, use App Store in Brasil. I don’t know why. Is there any other way of buying it, like Amazon?
    Paulo Ottoni

    • Thanks much! I will check with Apple about that. I’m releasing a .PDF version next week. I will email you when it’s available.

      I appreciate the heads up!

  14. Hi. I took your class and want to take it again and so do people from my office. I could not find a place to send you an email so please contact me about coming to my Castle Pines office . Thanks,

  15. Thanks for all your information on iPhone shooting Justin. I am really enjoying your book too! Have you ever considered putting one of your workshops online for those of us who don’t live close to you?

    • Thanks Don! The HOSSedia team as been tossing the idea around a bit. We are trying to come up with a way to produce it inexpensively so we can keep the cost down for our customers. If we do, you will be notified in a newsletter…or just keep visiting the site.

      Thanks again Don, and have a great day!


  16. Jim Masur says:

    Thanks photojojo just got a purchase from me

  17. This info is awesome! Never new my iphone was so versatile. It takes closeups so much better than my 18-50 kit lens on my rebel T2i. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Great site and info on iPhone photography! I have no formal training in photography but have always liked taking pictures. Finding your site and realizing what is possible with my iPhone has really got me excited about capturing creative images! Can’t wait for the next installment of iPhone Friday! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Rob Morrison says:

    Justin, Thank you for sharing all this with us. I was looking at several of the apps you recommend and the user ratings seem to go lower as the updates are released. The Tiffen FX Pro has quit working for some people. Same with Hipstamatic. Are these just professional gripers? Or is there a real problem?

  20. Hi Justin you are doing a great job! I just bought an iPhone and will buy your iPhone book this weekend. I am starting a website for my small business and would like to take photos of my product with my iPhone 4 s. i would plike to know which apps are best for still photos of individual items where the background and surface that the item is on is all white. In other words the object is totally outlined by white so you are focusing in on the item with white background. Also what equipment should I use for still photos? Thanks Susan

  21. Ron Paris says:

    Just discovered your website after watching today’s webinar on Snapseed. I cannot get pages 11 and 12 to show, always get an error. Can this be fixed?

  22. Hello, thank you for providing this excellent list of iphone Apps. I love iphone photography, it is all about creating great images and not the type or quality of the camera you are using.

  23. Mike Raboy says:


    I loved your mobile photography movie. I learned so much. I was turned on to it by Emil Pakarklis. Do you know anything about the camera app Cortex Cam. I have been using it and I find it very sharp, with very low noise. Also, do you mean Camera+ or Camera Plus

Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you