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10 Totally Easy Ways To Take Better iPhone Photos

Get ready for MUCH cooler Instagrams.

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Your phone most likely uses digital zoom, not optical zoom, so essentially zooming in is just cropping the photo tighter and tighter.

I took this important picture of my Queen Elizabeth II bobblehead with no zoom (left), and then by zooming in from about three feet away (right). Note the varying levels of pixelated suckage.

Jess Misener

Our instinct when taking a photo is to hold our phones at chest level. (Go ahead, try it!)

For a more visually provocative photo, especially of pets or children, crouch down to your subject's level or below. "It helps to capture your subject in a more interesting way, simply because humans are not used to looking at subjects from that perspective," says Diego Rios, an art director at the New York Institute of Technology.

The famous "rule of thirds" in the art world dictates that the ideal image could be split into a grid with nine identical parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. (Another way to think about it: put the important stuff in your photo close to those imaginary lines.) Your iPhone makes it easy for you — Go to Settings > Photos and Camera to turn on the grid and then get your Ansel Adams on.

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You'd be surprised how easy it is to smudge that tiny lens on your phone. Clean it from the outside with a microfiber cloth or an old T-shirt. You can even clean inside your iPhone's camera if you feel confident playing Operation with your expensive smartphone.

"One of the main reasons people need filters is to bring out detail that is not there," says photographer Harrison Buck. "Change where the subject is standing to get more light on their faces, be aware of silhouetting when shooting outside, find the sun, and have it shine ON your subject (unless you can successfully utilize the backlight."

"The more you can do WITHOUT filters, the better," Buck says. He suggests experimenting with turning your saturation all the way down for a monochrome effect, instead of using an Instagram filter (see above).

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Strapping a lens to your iPhone can make a world of difference in your zoom capabilities and overall photo quality, to the point where people won't believe your photos were taken with a phone. MacWorld recommends the iPro, and the Wall Street Journal recommends lenses by Moment. A decent lens will cost you anywhere from $30 to $300.

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Remember that depth of field kind of sucks when you're using a camera phone. "Try to shoot your subject in front of a simple backdrop, as an iPhone won’t distinguish the subject from the background as well as a traditional camera would," says Sara Wilson, a strategic partnerships manager at Instagram.

Jess Misener

Even if you have the world's steadiest hands, it can be awkward to hold onto your phone and tap the shutter button at the same time.

To avoid the two-hands dilemma, plug your Apple headphones in and press the "Volume up" button on the cord while in Camera mode to snap a photo. (You can also press the Volume up button on your actual phone, although that'll lend itself to a shaky photo, too.) Snapping remotely "minimizes camera movement, which often causes blur in low-light or long-exposure situations," says Peter Ranvestel, a social media administrator at Abt Electronics in Glenview, Ill.

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A tripod like this one is only 3 inches wide and costs $8, and it will make a huge difference in your photo quality if you have trouble holding your phone perfectly still. (Also, it's the secret to making awesome Vines like these.)

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We all see the same smiling selfies and laughing-at-brunch portraits over and over in our feeds. Boring! Try a more creative approach for some portraits your friends will love.

Buck suggests the "no smiles" look ("I call it the 'Civil War Pose'"), jumping ("also must be executed nearly perfectly to not come off cheesy") or posing in front of a patterned backdrop.

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