3 essential items for iPhone photography


iPhone photography may not live up to my photography snob standards (what do you expect from a gay man who majored in art and design? Of course I’m a snob about visual matters.) However, my phone is far less cumbersome than my beloved Nikon D3200 SLR camera. Plus, like most people, I carry my phone with me everywhere. With the help of these added gadgets, my iPhone 7  delivers surprising good quality video and photos, especially in good light.

The items below are essential when I’m out with just my iPhone. I want to share these with you because they have changed the way I think about photography when I use my iPhone. This isn’t a review or official endorsement, just products I’ve found which enhance my iPhone photography. All of these items I use because I like them and in no way benefit financially by these recommendations. I thought it would be helpful for you to know what a photography enthusiast does to improve his photos when using a smartphone.

1. 3-Axis Gimbal

If you plan on shooting video on your phone and either panning or walking at the same time, a gimbal is a must. Yes, it will look like you are walking around with a selfie stick but these are much more complicated gadgets. The 3 motorized axes (what does that mean) will keep your shooting balanced and steady by adjusting for tilt, roll and tracking movements.

I’ve been using the Smooth II 3-Axis Gimbal by Zhiyun. I suggest staying away from the older and cheaper 2-axis versions.

I can’t imagine not using this device whenever I am in motion. Once you get the hang of it, it can reduce almost all of the vibration and unwanted shake to make your video look like it was shot by a pro.

Watch this video to see how it can change the look of your videos.

2. Wide Angle Lens

To make any scene more dramatic, a wide-angle lens can do the trick. I’ve owned many lenses in the past that either were made of cheap plastic or the quality of the optical glass what not good, resulting in distorted images. Remember those glasses in 7th grade that seemed to distort everything? Those days are over.

Pixter, a French company, has introduced high quality lenses that simply clamp over the lens of your phone. Several lens are available such as macro, fisheye, etc but I have found all I really need to make a wow shot is the wide-angle. This lens enables you to capture 2.65 times more elements in the frame.  If you often take selfies with friends, this lens lets you capture a large group along with your surroundings.

Photos courtesy Pixter

3. Mini Tripod with Bluetooth Remote Shutter

I always travel with my professional tripod but there are times when you don’t want to be bogged down with clumsy equipment. This mini table-top tripod with flexible legs comes in very handy.  Amazon has pages and pages of models. Make sure you purchase one that is made of quality material and has flexible legs. The flexibility of the 3 legs allows me to put it of an uneven surface or even wrap it around an obstruction.  It’s important to consider the purchase of a tripod that comes with a bluetooth remote shutter. When you turn this remote on it will pair with your phone’s camera. Mount your phone on the tripod and take a photo of yourself using the remote. Now you no longer have to ask somebody “can you please take our photo”. That is, unless he’s really cute.