When you live in the most filmed city in the world, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble across something worth taking a picture of… even if it’s only your family, friends, or pet dog. Here are 6 tips for taking better photos.

1. Shoot 16:9

Aspect ratio is the relationship between the width and height of an image.
The iPhone camera shoots in 3 aspect ratios: 1:1(square), 4:3 (classic photo size), and 16:9 (roughly the size of your iPhone screen, laptop, and television).

The default aspect ratio on the iPhone is 4:3. Images in 4:3  have black bars on the left and right when they’re displayed on  16:9 iPhone screen.

Los Angeles 4:3
Los Angeles 16:9

Try shooting 16:9 and see if you like the look and the larger image size.

  • Open the Camera App.
  • Tap the small up arrow ^ at the top of the screen. This reveals a menu at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap the aspect ratio button and choose the one you want.
iPhone Camera aspect ratio

2. Check Camera Format

iPhone shoots either HEIC or JPEG. Each one has pros and cons:

  • HEIC was invented by Apple. Images take up less space but are not as universally compatible as JPEG.
  • JPEGs are an older format. They take up slightly more space, but they are compatible across a wider array of web and PC applications.

Leave the ProRaw option turned off unless you know how it works. ProRaw is used by professionals and the images take up massive amounts of space.

To switch from HEIC to JPEG:

  • Go to Settings>Camera>Formats.
  • In Camera Capture, choose High Efficiency for HEIC or Most Compatible for JPEG.
HEIC or JPEG on the iPhone

3. Turn Off Live Photo

Live Photos are 1.5-second videos that capture the moments before and after you hit the shutter button. They take up more space than photos, are not as clear, and take longer to download when they are sent in Messages.

Unfortunately, Live Photos is turned on by default.

To turn Live Photo off:

  • Go to Settings>Camera>Preserve Settings and toggle on Live Photo.
  • Open the Camera App. Tap the Live Photo icon (shaped like the sun) in the top left corner. A line appears on the icon, showing it is turned off.
Live Photo on iPhone

4. Turn Off Flash

Flash adds a moderate amount of fill light to darker images, but in general, it produces pictures that appear flat and lack shadow detail.

Flash is set to Auto by default. The iPhone examines the scene and determines when to use it. I prefer to make these decisions myself, so I set the Flash to off.

To change the Flash setting:

  • Open the Camera App. Tap the Flash icon (shaped like a lightning bolt) in the top right corner. A line appears on the icon, showing it is turned off.
Turn off flash on iPhone Camera.

5. Use Grid and Level

The iPhone Camera can display a Grid overlay to help line up shots and a Level to ensure your images are horizontally aligned.

To access these controls:

  • Go to Settings>Camera
  • Under Composition toggle on on/off Grid and Level.
Grid and Level on the iPhone camera

6. Look Your Subject in The Eye.

Not a setting… just general advice.

If you’re tall and you’re taking a photo of the family, get down to their level. Pictures shot looking down on subjects make them appear slightly distorted and diminish their presence.

If you’re taking a picture of the dog… get down on the floor.


Have a great week.

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