Thanks to its great photo quality and the unparalleled selection of photo apps, the iPhone has become the world’s most popular digital camera.
One of the most crucial tools for improving composition is built right into your iPhone’s camera.
To turn on the gridlines in iOS 6, simply tap on the options panel at the top of the camera window, and make sure that the “Grid” slider is turned on. To turn on the gridlines, simply tap on the options panel at the top of the camera window, and make sure that the “Grid” slider is turned on.
These four points are the most powerful areas of the image, and our eyes are naturally attracted to these areas first. While it’s best to apply the rule of thirds when you’re taking photos, you can also do it in cropping. Following the rule of thirds has allowed me to create a more harmonious composition, while at the same time emphasizing the bizarre walk-on-the water nature of the photo.
This of course contradicts the rule of thirds, which states that the main subject should be located at one of the four intersection points.
Placing the main subject even slightly off the center makes the composition a lot more harmonious, while at the same time putting more emphasis on the subject. If all the crucial areas of the image are located either at the top or the bottom, or on the left or the right side, the image is out of balance. In this photo the most important subjects are the red rocks at the top left and the smaller gray rocks at the bottom right. In this photo the wooden bridge works as a leading line as it draws our attention towards the waterfall in the background. In this photo the paths of dry sand that go through the scene diagonally from bottom left function as a leading lines, drawing our eyes directly to the main subject of the photo.
Even though photography is a stationary medium, photos often have an implicit direction of movement. To apply the rule of thirds to portrait photography, you should always place the eyes of the subject at one of the top intersections of the gridlines.
Steve Jobs used to say “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and he was clearly onto something.
This photo illustrates another important compositional principle: the use of empty space in photography. With Instagram being an exclusively square medium, a lot of people are struggling with square composition. Emil Pakarklis is the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website that helps people take better photos with the iPhone.
However, even an excellent camera and world-class photo editing tools can’t turn a bad photo into a good one, and the easiest way to improve the quality of your photos is to learn composition. Yes, I’m talking about gridlines, which are two horizontal and two vertical lines separating the iPhone’s screen into three equal parts both horizontally and vertically. To turn on gridlines in iOS 7, go to Settings, scroll down to Photos & Camera, and then turn the Grid slider on.
Gridlines are absolutely essential for following the rule of thirds (the next tip) and for other applications such as keeping the horizon straight. The iPhone’s 8-megapixel sensor gives you plenty of room for improving your images through cropping, as I’m doing here using the Snapseed app.
In this example I’ve followed this guideline by placing the horizon along the top horizontal gridline.
Even if you don’t want to follow the rule of thirds religiously, it’s a good idea to not place your main subject at the center of the image.

In a nutshell, the diagonal principle states that the most important parts of the image (the main subjects) should be placed along the diagonal. The solution is to place the main subjects of the photo along the diagonal, as seen in the example below. Ideally, leading lines should not be perfectly horizontal or vertical, and they should lead our eyes towards the main subject. The human eye is very used to people, animals, bikes and cars moving forward, and it naturally expects to see the same in a stationary scene. If this bike was positioned towards the right side, the eye would quickly go off the frame and the resulting composition wouldn’t be harmonious. But how can we apply the rule of thirds if a person’s face takes up almost the entire frame? So in portraits, the most important part of the image is a person’s eyes, which are followed by their face and finally their body.
The same idea also applies to portrait photography as human eyes naturally want to follow the gaze of another person to see what they’re looking at. One of the easiest ways to create a well-composed photo is to keep the scene simple and clear of any distractions. In general, compositional guidelines such as the rule of thirds work great for portrait or landscape photos, but not necessarily for square compositions. One thing that works extremely well for square images (but not so much for other aspect ratios) is placing your subject at the very edge of the scene, and leaving everything else unoccupied as seen in the photo above.
While these principles are certainly useful in many photographic situations, it’s far more important that you keep experimenting and stay creative at all times. I have recently gotten into the world of Nikon via a D600 and these tips are not only great for my new iPhone 5s, but as well my Nikon..
I’ve been messing around with photography for awhile now with my iphone, so this guide helps even more!
I felt like I’ve just been shooting in the dark waiting for a good photo until I read this guide. I recommend that you keep the gridlines on at all times until you automatically think about the scene in terms of composition.
By aligning the crucial parts of the composition diagonally, I was able to balance the image both horizontally and vertically. Different roads and footpaths are commonly used as leading lines, though almost any distinct lines can be used for this purpose.
And whenever there’s any kind of movement, our eyes naturally tend to follow in that direction. So in portraits you should always place your subject so that there’s enough space in the direction towards which the subject is looking. The following photo has only one subject, which gives the scene perfect clarity, which ultimately results in harmony. This following photo breaks several compositional guidelines that I explained in this tutorial, and yet I love it exactly like this. I live in a place where there isn’t much, so you’re pretty lucky if you ask me!
I have a DSLR and an iPhone and honestly I am learning how to set the scene with my iPhone (I use it more than my DSLR).

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