Cropping – step one for improving your iPhone pictures

Crop-8-7Want to improve the iPhone photos you post on Instagram, Facebook, or other social media sites? For beginner photographers and busy amateurs like me, there are a handful of things you can do very quickly to improve your images. The first one is to crop the shot for a better composition.

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional photographer. Almost a year ago, I started doing a daily photo journal because I found that I was so busy with my job as a manager at Adobe that I no longer had time to create art. I figured that if I took just 5 minutes a day to create an image with my iPhone, that might satisfy my need to create without taking too much time. I have been posting my images on Instagram and Facebook and several of my family, friends, and colleagues have asked me for tutorials. This is the first one.

These are the steps I follow to enhance and improve my iPhone photos by cropping.

  1. Take a picture with your iPhone.
  2. Open the Photos app and select the photo that needs cropping.
  3. Optional: To visualize the cropped image before you crop: touch two fingers to the middle of the photo and slowly spread the fingers outward to zoom in on the image. (Pinch your two fingers in to zoom out again.) Use one or two fingers to move the image around on the screen. Zoom in and out on the photo to plan how you want to crop.
  4. Pick a photo editing app for cropping. There are lots of good ones (Photoshop Touch, Lightroom Mobile, Snapseed, Camera+). You can even crop right there or in your Camera Roll.
    Photo Mar 05, 4 06 10 PM     Photo Mar 05, 4 06 20 PM
    Note: in some apps the crop may permanently change your photo. The editing feature in your Camera Roll allows you to revert back to the original if you don’t like the way it cropped. (Or you could try an app that is “non-destructive” like Lightroom Mobile.)

Here are some of the things I try to create when I crop an image:
(All the images below were cropped to a square for posting in Instagram.)

Interesting shapes—especially along the borders:
Crop-3      Crop-2

Less clutter and more focus on the subject:
Crop-8-2   Crop-9-2

Drama or close up detail:
Double-cropSeqMovement of the lines and colors that draw your eye around the image:
Crop-9-5      Crop-8-5

Creating mystery or implied story:
Crop-9-6     Crop-8-6
Crop-8-8     Crop-9-7

One final cropping tip for Instagram posts: your iPhone camera has a setting to take square pictures so you can better frame the shot for Instagram. Check it out:
Photo Mar 05, 5 36 26 PM

Stay tuned to this blog for another tutorial on how to improve your iPhone photos. Next time, how to improve your color photos by making them black & white.

Resources and more info:
Sean Duggan iphoneography blog
10 Rules of Photo Composition blog post
How to crop and Level in Lightroom
Luanne Seymour’s Instagram feed to see lots of iPhone photos

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