Category: Photography

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.

Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
The book creation adventure continues, with new-to-me parts of London getting added to my favourites list. I lived here for ten years the first time and I can’t believe I never ventured out to Kew Gardens — it’s absolutely magical! I only had time to see a fraction of the place, but what I did see was enough to persuade me to buy a season ticket. If you only have a couple of days in London there are other places you should check out first (and I’ll be doing a Things to See in London post soon), but if you’re here for a week or more, plan to spend a day there. It’s worth it, trust me.


Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Creating this book has been an invitation to submerge myself in photography — I snap photos with my iPhone every day, but breaking out the big cameras is a whole other game. Still, I really do believe it’s our eyes that take photos. It doesn’t matter what camera you use, it’s more about the intention behind the picture you take. Recording a memory… creating art… sharing a peek into your world… taking a portrait to treasure. To my mind, photography is magical.

The autumn session of Photo Meditations is currently enrolling, so if you’d like to take your photography up a notch with me (smart phones are more than welcome, by the way!) head over here to read more and sign up. This is the last time the class will run this year xo


Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Kew Gardens in London | SusannahConway.com
Photo Meditations

The Millennium Bridge, London | SusannahConway.com
I thought I had words to share this month, but it turns out all my creative energy has been needed for the new book. When I wrote the proposal for Chronicle last year I knew the project was an ambitious one. Photographing a book about London? Yep, that will take a bit of doing. As it turns out, it’s physically exhausting — London is a big place! — but I’m loving (re)discovering this city of mine. Even though I get home barely able to keep my eyes open, I’m thrilled to be flexing my creative muscles in such a focussed way again. The words will return but for now I’m pouring everything I have into this. Can’t wait to share it with you in the spring of 2016!

The Lord napier pub, London | SusannahConway.com
Coffee in Brixton Village | SusannahConway.com
The Odeon, London | SusannahConway.com
Shoreditch locks
The Lord Napier pub in hackney | SusannahConway.com
In other news, we took Noah to the circus last weekend. He was completely in his element :)

Noah at the circus | SusannahConway.com

The humans of Londontown | SusannahConway.comI’ve been shooting photos for my new book and it’s starting to take over my life — which is as it should be because I want this book to be beautiful and inspiring and, well, good. So no pressure then! We’re having a heatwave here in the UK so the last few weeks of shooting have been pretty intense but thankfully the Circle line has air conditioning so I’m planning my travels accordingly. Pro tip: avoid the Central line at all costs. It’s like sitting in hell’s kitchen.

Chinatown | SusannahConway.comThis book is going to be a portrait of the city and with a population of 8.3 million I’m inevitably photographing a lot of passers by.  I’ve never felt comfortable taking photos of people in the street, but the more places I go the bolder I get. Like actors in your own private play, people bring life and character to the shots. I’ve been fantasising about creating a Humans of London blog in honour of the wonderful Humans of New York, but the truth is, I prefer wandering the streets unobtrusively. I like to observe rather than interact.

Camden girl | SusannahConway.com
Of course, when you have a 40 year-old Polaroid camera hanging across your body, you tend to become a people magnet. Each day I speak to at least five or six souls who are curious about the camera. I’ve chatted with policemen outside the Houses of Parliament, the old boy in Camden Passage and Jesse, the Spanish dude I met on the Southbank who insisted I take his picture. There was the girl in Chipotle who said she had a Polaroid at home, the charity worker in Islington who wanted tips on shooting at night, and Darren in Chinatown who was so inspired by the Vivian Maier film he was out snapping strangers.

You are never stuck for conversation when you’re shooting with a Polaroid. This is turning into quite an adventure…


The Breakfast Club | SusannahConway.comSusannahConway.comPhotographer in the wild | SusannahConway.com

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