Category: iPhoneography

How I shoot with my iPhone | SusannahConway.com
It’s been 15 months since I wrote the original version of this post so I thought it was time for an update. The way I shoot with my iPhone has become even simpler thanks to improved apps and my never-ending desire for ease. When I first started taking pictures with my phone I’d go through phases of using a particular app or filter that took my fancy, and, of course, whenever a new bells ’n’ whistles app is released I still download it and give it a try. But these days I find myself shooting and editing in pretty much the same way every time.

Whatever camera you use to take photos, whether it’s film, toy, a DSLR or a phone, I believe it’s the strength of your composition that makes your photo work (or not). Doesn’t matter if you’ve used the most expensive camera on the market or the cheapest — it’s not the camera that creates the image, it’s your eye. One of the reasons I love shooting with film cameras so much is because it takes me back to photography basics: you set the exposure, compose the shot, focus and shoot. I don’t have to fanny around with white balance and the other buttons on my DSLR I haven’t bothered to figure out. Likewise, I use my iPhone in an equally simple way. I’ve tried plenty of camera apps but they all have too many gizmos — I just want to compose my shot and take it. So here’s my very simple (updated) method…

How I shoot with my iPhone | SusannahConway.com
I shoot all my photos with the basic camera app that comes with the phone (an iPhone 5S), alternating between the rectangle and square format, depending on how I want to frame the shot.

When taking the picture I hold the phone up keeping my arms close to my body — for crisp shots you need to keep the phone as steady as possible. When shooting Polaroids I always hold my breath as I take the shot and it’s the same with the iPhone. I only ever take one or two shots of a particular scene, a habit from shooting with film and not having many shots to spare — I also don’t want to use up all the memory on the phone with duplicate images. I take my time, compose thoughtfully, touch the screen to adjust the exposure and then take the picture.

For editing I mainly use the VSCO cam app — I brighten the shot, maybe up the contrast a smidge and then apply a filter dialled down to about 60%. My current filter faves are S2, S3 and M6, with F2 and A8 making an appearance once in a while. All the photos in this post were edited in VCSO cam.

How I shoot with my iPhone | SusannahConway.com
Then I just save the photo to my camera roll and either post it straight to Instagram if it’s a square, or if it’s a rectangular image I’ll use Afterlight to add white borders before posting.

I occasionally put words on my pictures using Over or Word Swag. If I need to straighten or crop an image I’ll use Afterlight; the SKRWT app is useful for straightening distorted buildings. I then use the Dropbox app to upload edited images to the Dropbox folder on my computer.

And that’s it.

For self portraits I use the basic camera app reversed (the lower resolution of the reversed camera helps smudge wrinkles ;-) and edit as usual with VSCO cam. In a moment of vanity I downloaded the Facetune app to test the skin-smoothing function and I can report that, yes, it works but I’ve yet to share a Facetuned photo anywhere as it looks so fake.

When it comes to selfies I’m not very adventurous — I think I got it out of my system at art college. Good hair days, feet shots and hand shots are all I feel the need for these days, so for some self portrait inspiration, check out my mates Amy Palko, Susan Tuttle and Vivienne McMaster.

How I shoot with my iPhone | SusannahConway.com
Once in a blue moon I’ll use Hipstamatic just because I see it on my phone and think ‘oh, yeah, that app was always fun to use.” But in all honesty, I’m over it.

When sharing on Instagram I never geo-tag my photos purely because I switched off that function when it geo-tagged my home. If was travelling the world maybe geo-tagging would be fun, but usually I’m in London or with family — I don’t think people need to know exactly where I am. Privacy first and all that.

Other photo apps I’ve downloaded and kept on my phone: A Beautiful Mess, Diana Photo, PicTapGo, Snapseed, Litely, and Autostitch. There have been many more, of course, but they’ve long been deleted.

How I shoot with my iPhone | SusannahConway.com
Shooting with my iPhone hasn’t changed the way I take pictures so much as facilitated my desire to shoot every day. I see photos everywhere and like to record my days, just for the sheer pleasure of capturing colour, light and shape. When I leave the house I always have my phone with me, though at this stage I really do view it more as a camera than a phone. For a while I was worried that using my iPhone more than my Polaroid cameras or even DSLR meant I was ‘cheating’. How could I call myself a photographer if I shot predominently with a phone? But I’ve always believed that being a photographer simply means you express yourself using the photographic image — the tools you use don’t matter so much anymore (did anyone ever critique Picasso on his choice of brushes? No.) A writer writes, a painter paints and a photographer photographs. Simple as that.

I actually love that digital photography and now smart phones have made photography so accessible to everyone. These days photographs aren’t just taken on birthdays and holidays — we’re now recording and sharing our daily lives. We pay attention more. We’re exercising our creative muscles. Our eyes open wider every day.

It’s a beautiful thing.

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I’m back from a weekend at my sister’s and missing Noah already. I have a cold. I have lots to do for next week’s new course but this morning I just wanted to lie on my bed quietly moaning. But instead of doing that, I downloaded a new photo app to my iPhone and played for an hour. Playing is such an important part of the creative process, and playing with images is in my Top Ten Best Things to Do Ever (the other nine are cuddles with Noah, journalling, reading, eating anything delicious, flying anywhere, karoake, standing by the ocean, coffees with my soulsisters, and *cough* hot sex *cough*)

What’s in your top ten?

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We will definitely be organising another one – it was so much fun! Big thanks to Xanthe for getting us organised and Katherine, Julia, Donna and everyone else who came along xxx

Ps. Today’s August Break prompt is taste… again. This isn’t an intentional repeat, just what happens when you put together projects too quickly ;)


I often get asked how I create images with my iPhone so I thought it was about time I put together a post. The quick answer is: I don’t actually do very much at all. When I first started taking pictures with my phone I’d go through phases of using a particular app or filter that took my fancy, and, of course, whenever a new bells ’n’ whistles app is released I still download it and give it a try. But these days I find myself shooting and ‘editing’ in pretty much the same way every time.

Whatever camera you use to take photos, whether it’s film, toy, a DSLR or a phone, I believe it’s the strength of your composition that makes your photo work (or not). Doesn’t matter if you’ve used the most expensive camera on the market or the cheapest — it’s not the camera that creates the image, it’s your eye. One of the reasons I love shooting with film cameras so much is because it takes me back to photography basics: you set the exposure, compose the shot, focus and shoot. I don’t have to fanny around with white balance and the other buttons on my DSLR I haven’t bothered to figure out. Likewise, I use my iPhone in an equally simple way. I’ve tried plenty of camera apps but they all have too many gizmos — I just want to compose my shot and take it. So here’s my very simple method…


I shoot all my photos with either the basic camera app that comes with the phone or ProCamera if I want to shoot square images. I was previously using the 6×6 app for this, but found it had a tendency to crash; ProCamera let’s you change the default camera view so it opens with a square viewfinder — it’s also a bit more stable. I’ve yet to use any of its other features — I just use the app to take the photo and save direct to my camera roll.

When taking the picture I hold the phone up keeping my arms close to my body — for crisp shots you need to keep the phone as steady as possible. When shooting Polaroids I always hold my breath as I take the shot and it’s the same with the iPhone. I only ever take one or two shots of a particular scene, a habit from shooting with film and not having many shots to spare — I also don’t want to use up all the memory on the phone with duplicate images. I take my time, compose thoughtfully, then take the picture. Obviously when i’m snapping my nephew all of this goes out the window!

For editing I use either Afterlight or VSCO cam. Afterlight is my go-to as it’s so simple to use and I like that you can adjust the strength of the filters. Generally I brighten the shot, maybe up the contrast a smidge and then apply a filter (though I don’t always — I like the natural look). I use the ‘Russ’ filter (created by Kevin Russ, one of fave Instagramers) 95% of the time — it’s soft and subdued, and reminds me of original Polaroid film, which will always win me over. All the photos in this post are Russ filtered.


Then I just save the photo to my camera roll and either post it on Instagram or use the Dropbox app to upload to the Dropbox folder on my computer. When Instagraming a rectangular image I use Whitagram for white borders above and below the photo. I occasionally put words on my pictures using Over. (Update! You can add white borders in Afterlight — it’s in the frames section. Thanks for the tip, Lexichelle!)

And that’s it.

For self portraits I’ll either use the basic camera app (reversed) or shoot straight into Instagram (also reversed). The Russ filter looks okay on selfies, but I find the absolute best (read: most flattering) is the Walden filter in Instagram: it bleaches out all your lines and sags and makes you look 5 years younger. The lower resolution of the reversed camera helps smudge wrinkles, too ;-)


Once in a blue moon I’ll use Hipstamatic just because I see it on my phone and think ‘oh, yeah, that app was always fun to use.” But in all honesty, I’m over it.

When sharing on Instagram I never geo-tag my photos purely because I switched off that function when it geo-tagged my home. If was travelling the world maybe geo-tagging would be fun, but usually I’m in London or with family — I don’t think people need to know exactly where I am. Privacy first and all that.

Other apps I’ve downloaded and kept on my phone: A Beautiful Mess, PicTapGo, Snapseed, Picture Show, Photogene, and Autostitch. There have been many more, of course, but they’ve long been deleted.


Shooting with my iPhone hasn’t changed the way I take pictures so much as facilitated my desire to shoot every day. I see photos everywhere and like to record my days, just for the sheer pleasure of capturing colour, light and shape. When I leave the house I always have my phone with me, though at this stage I really do view it more as a camera than a phone. For a while I was worried that using my iPhone more than my Polaroid cameras or even DSLR meant I was ‘cheating’. How could I call myself a photographer if I shot predominently with a phone? But I’ve always believed that being a photographer simply means you express yourself using the photographic image — the tools you use don’t matter so much anymore (did anyone ever critique Picasso on his choice of brushes? No.) A writer writes, a painter paints and a photographer photographs. Simple as that.

I actually love that digital photography and now smart phones have made photography so accessible to everyone. These days photographs aren’t just taken on birthdays and holidays — we’re now recording and sharing our daily lives. We pay attention more. We’re exercising our creative muscles. Our eyes open wider every day.

It’s a beautiful thing.


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In Photo Meditations we spend the first two weeks diving deep into composition as it really is the foundation of a great photograph. The course also covers colour theory, self portraiture, story-telling, honing your eye, finding your own style and lots more. Registration has just opened for the summer class — starts Monday July 29th — and all cameras and abilities are welcome!

I’ll be hosting the August Break again this year and I’m really looking forward to teaching Photo Meditations at the same time — the two go perfectly together. More on the August Break soon!

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I’d love to know which apps you use and how you use your camera phone! xo

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