In early 2011, I got a phone call from a friend, "My husband is working on this awesome new app, you should get it!" That app was Instagram, and boy am I ever glad I signed on. Though I had been shooting lifestyle photography for a few years, there was something about the simplicity and ease of pulling out my then iPhone 3. I could take it to the store, the doctor's office, and mommy meet-ups - capturing my kids and our day to day lives.
Years later our phone's camera capabilities have blown up and oh am I so glad they have. Always in my purse or pocket, I can pull out my now upgraded iPhone and in a few moments, document life as I see it. Such a time happened over the summer while on vacation, the kids and I were exploring an old abandoned tunnel now used as a walking trail. As we approached the tunnel my heart stopped, I knew exactly what the image would look like and akin to a giddy child at Christmas, I placed my kids at the far end and stepped back.

The light was pouring through behind them, perfectly silhouetting their little frames. I could have taken this a few ways, but knowing I wanted their bodies to appear dark with the sun shining in behind, so I tapped my screen on the brightest part of the image (just behind my kids) to lower the exposure around them (if I had tapped on the darker part, say in one of the corners, it would have brought the exposure up). Don't be afraid to tap around on your screen and see how the light changes!
As per usual I took about 10 too many, but I prefer it that way, then I can go back later and decide which I like the best! I brought the image first into VSCO Cam and added the F5 preset, just as is, and saved. Following that, I opened PicTapGo and applied a lowered opacity of Randsburg. Finished off with some Warm It Up to bring back the sunlight that my camera phone lost.
Capturing everyday activities brings me such joy, but the ability to turn those activities into forms of art is one of my favorite things. Just a few iPhone tricks, some easy-to-use apps, and you have print worthy photos of your children.
You can see more of Angie's beautiful work on her blog and on her instagram feed.


I took this picture of my boys at the end of my in-laws driveway, in Arizona, on an overcast day. I always value photos where I can get them both in the frame together and in this particular instant they didn't even know I was taking their picture (I always prefer this route), as they were captivated by the mud beneath their feet. I love that their rain boots tell a story and that the place it's taken is a special one. I love the symmetry that the trees provide. The fog makes for great tones and adds a beautiful degree of mystery. I also like shooting later in the evening, when the sun is low. The last few minutes of light, when the sun falls behind the horizon, is my favorite time to shoot. I only wish it lasted more than a few minutes.
I don't always have my big camera on me and that's precisely what I love about shooting with my phone. In fact, I'd argue that shooting with my phone has made a better photographer in a lot of ways. You can learn a lot about light and exposure just by practicing with your phone. And many of the images I've captured are held dear to my heart because they were taken at a time I didn't anticipate being inspired; times when I didn't necessarily have my 'real' (for lack of better words) camera on me. 
Here are some simple beginner tips for taking better photos with your phone:
1. Shoot in landscape mode. This isn’t a setting on your iPhone, rather I’m suggesting you hold your phone horizontal as opposed to vertical when taking a photo. You’ll be able to see the frame better. 
2. Experiment with AE/AF lock. It makes focusing easier. I use it some of the time.
3. Shoot by windows or doors. It’s amazing what natural light can do. If the kids are playing, sometimes I’ll set up a trap and plant myself where I want them to go. I’m like a magnet, they always find me.
4. Think about your composition. Ask yourself what’s included in the photo and why. Don’t rely on cropping later, include only what you want in the shot when you shoot it.
5. Take your phone out of your purse. Sure, there’s that fine line of being that annoying mom constantly hiding behind her iPhone snapping shot after shot of her kid instead of just being present in the moment. I get that, I do. Sometimes I like putting my camera down just as much as I like picking it up, so you have to find your own balance and what works for you. What I would encourage, however, is to take your camera out during the seemingly mundane moments. There is so much beauty in the everyday; the morning light when you’re just waking up, your child brushing her hair before school, you husband walking in the door after a long day at work… Everyone remembers the birthday parties and the first day of school, but I’m telling ya, there are beautiful things happening everyday. 
6. Take multiple shots of the same subject, espcially when photographing kids. Though I should mention, funny enough, I almost always end up chosing the first photo I take anyway. But insurance feels good, doesn’t it? That’s why we all pay out our butts for car insurance we (hopefully) never use.
7. Try different angles. If I’m photographing my kids, I like to get down to their level. Shoot from above, shoot from below, shoot into the sun, shoot away from the sun. You’ll learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. That’s the beauty in digital, right? Your mistakes are never a waste.
8. Edit your photos. Sure, exposure, lighting, and composition are the main ingredients but editing is the quintessential icing on the cake. Never rely strictly on editing to make an okay photo great. An okay photo will always be an okay photo, in my opinion anyway. I edit almost all my iPhone pics with the VSCO Cam app. 
9. Share em’. Join Instagram. Your life will never be the same. 
You can see more of Ashley's beautiful work on her blog and on her instagram feed.


The moment I became a mother I was struck with the realization that life is precious, fleeting, and not to be taken for granted.  I mean, I knew that before having children but I didn't know it know it.  You know?  I think about my own mortality a lot, too; I'm not going to be here forever.  And so I snap away with my iPhone.  Little bits and pieces from our daily life together.  An extra snuggle, a thoughtful glance, or maybe, if I'm lucky, a new milestone.  No one sees the things I do or would even see them the same way I do, so every photo I take leaves a little piece of me behind.  My hope is that one day when I'm gone, my girls will be looking at these photos and they'll pause.  Maybe they'll say, "Look at this one, I didn't even know Mom took a picture of this!"  And right then they'll be flooded with the love I was feeling as I watched over them daily, quietly snapping photos of the beauty before me.  And a mother's love will live on.
Unencumbered by my SLR camera, I am able to capture the purest and most candid moments with my iPhone.  There is a learning curve, however, and I've had to practice and experiment a lot. A couple of years ago, I committed to posting one photo a day on my Instagram account to enforce the practice.  When I scroll back, the drastic improvement is apparent and fuels me to keep pushing and learning.  What could my photos look like in another year, another month even?  My favorite apps are VSCOSnapseed, and Afterlight.  I minimally edit my photos, mostly to get the brightness and saturation back to what I actually saw.  Always a little straightening and cropping.  Each one of these apps stands alone and can do all of those functions, but Snapseed has a few features like Brush and Spot Repair that make it more like a mobile Photoshop. 

To get the sun to appear in this photo, I had to underexpose my daughter in the foreground (I set the exposure point right along that horizon line).  Afterwards, I was able to use the Brush tool to lighten her up a little bit. Now I'll always have this beautiful keepsake reminder of a mountain vacation with family, a special ballet leotard from Nana, and that girl who never thinks twice before abandoning the trail in favor of walking amongst the wildflowers.
You can see more of Gina's beautiful iphone photography on her instagram feed.


I'm not a trained photographer but I am studying to become one.  In fact my photography journey actually started out with the iPhone.  Like most people I discovered Instagram and fell in love with photography.  Seeing all these wonderful little squares filled with different perspectives, colors, creativity.  Completely inspired, I wanted to learn as much as could.  I would scour the internet on tips of how to take better pictures with my iPhone.  Then eventually started taking mobile photography courses.  I wanted to learn how to take better pictures of my kids. I wanted to capture these beautiful joyful moments that my children & I could look back on when they are older.  
I have already pictured that moment in my mind. Us all together laughing & me telling them what they were like at that age.  
That’s why my iPhone is my go to on a daily basis.  As a mom of 4 I love the quickness of the iPhone. You have the ability to move around and shoot from pretty much any angle.  The focusing is definitely easier which allows you to capture amazing candid shots.  Plus some of these editing apps are just plain fantastic. 

In this photo my daughter was dressed up in one of her “fancy” dresses (as she likes to call them) and jumping on her bed. I knew right away I wanted to capture this moment. Her little curls bouncing as she jumped.  The pure joy in her face the higher she tried to go.  
Because she was jumping every where I wanted to remove any distractions in the picture. So, I quickly removed the stuff animals and picture on her wall.  Her dresser is on the opposite wall so I used that as my tripod to help stabilize the phone.
The more stable the phone is the better focus you will achieve.  So any chance you get especially in movement photos try to stabilize your phone on something.  It could be an actual tripod (you can find some really cheap ones on amazon), your knee, tables, the floor, anything really. I used the native camera on my iPhone locked focus in the area of her bottom portion of her dress and legs and used burst mode.  As you can see not everything is in focus and I knew that would happen. My goal was to focus on her feet jumping off the bed.
With iPhone action shots you need a lot of light and I mean a lot. So outside is always best.  The first thing I do when the girls get up is pull back the shades all the way and push the curtains to the side.  So that their room fills up with as much light as it can. Now I have one less thing to worry about when taking quick candid moments in their room.
I then brought the picture into the VSCO Cam app used the C1 filter (one of my favs) to help brighten and boost the colors.  Sharpened it a little and then brought it into the PicTapGo app.  I added the crispity (another fav)  for a tad more sharpness and clarity and then used the air filter to give it that airy feeling.
As I mentioned earlier there are some pretty amazing editing apps out there.  When it comes to applying the filter I always start at the lowest strength and increase slowly to avoid over processing.
Along with my go to apps VSCO Cam & PicTapGo, I love these apps: 
  • Afterlight (great for landscape pics)
  • Snapseed (great for local adjustments)
  • Priime  (great for styled pics)
  • Mextures (really cool textures and overlays)
  • Big Lens (fantastic blur tool)         
  • Retouch (great for removing little distractions)
You can see more of Charissa's beautiful iphone photography on her instagram feed.


The power was out. The lights wouldn't turn on. The water heater wouldn't heat.   
Kettle water filled up the sink and I put my baby in the bubbles for a needed bath. Her big sister pulled up a stool and immediately the giggles and splashing began. This scene instantly brought me back thirty years to the side by side days with my little sister. 
I remember as a kid after a big storm we would loose all power and sometimes water, leaving my sister and I giddy, running around completely delighted at the feel of now "camping" in our home with candles for light and eating cupboard-food near the wood stove. 
These are the moments, of my family and the world around us, that I want to record .  I want to communicate the wonder and imagination of childhood, the times and places that impact and really mark us. The special connection between two sisters, just a moment in a day, in a life, that make up their stories. 

Traveling and small city adventures with my kids are one of our favorite ways spend time together. One of the best ways to document these narratives is walking around and seeing the big world through their eyes.  I usually set out with my Canon on days like this, but at home there are so many fleeting moments that I would otherwise miss if I didn't have my camera on my phone to grab and take the shot quick before it vanishes. 

How I approach a photograph: 
~ A photograph has the power to tell a story and evoke nostalgic memories and emotions. This is my central reason and vision for taking a photo: to see the world around and create art through sharing the story.  The very first thought is always how I want to communicate and document the story before me. ..what angle or perspective do I want to shoot at, or what details do I want to capture? These will help decide how to convey the narrative. 
~ Light. It can be dramatic, moody, and delicate. I look for places that provide natural lighting, but I've learned over time to not be afraid to experiment in darker spaces. I have found that lack of light can often offer the most intimate feel to a frame. 
~Composition. Look for any distractions in the way , or the space around your subjects. Is there time to be unique? Is there time to move and get an artistic shot before the moment is over? Often times there isn't, which is why I love imperfect shots too.  It means genuine life is happening. 
~Editing. My personal style is more of a clean, simple edit. I exclusively use VSCOcam to edit and size my iPhone photos. 
You can see more of Josey's beautiful iphone photography on her instagram feed.


I grew up with a mother who recorded everything for posterity, like she didn't want to miss a thing. It was a given that I would share her enthusiasm for documenting my own children's early years. And where she had her trusty Minolta, I have my phone. And although I love my Canon and use it often, there have been so many candid moments that would otherwise been lost had it not been for my iPhone.
A moment just like this one. When these two arrived in my bed first thing as they quite often do. I love that I captured a whispered moment between them. What were they discussing? A trick to play on me, what they were going to have for lunch, maybe a eager request for a shot on the playstation! Who knows. But I know that in years to come I will still be asking that very question when I look at this photo.

In this shot and with most of my photography, I try to seek out natural lighting and will turn out lights if at all possible to avoid any orange glow. I've pinned back curtains and opened doors to flood as much daylight into the room as possible. I always use VSCO Cam to edit my photos and will try out a few before selecting, usually from the minimalist range. I straighten and crop the photo and will then alter the exposure and saturation, perhaps sharpening the image if need be or upping the grain if i feel it needs to be more atmospheric. The majority of my instagram pictures are edited through VSCO Cam but occasionally I will head to PicTapGo afterwards and try out the filters there. 
I don't worry too much if I don't get the perfect shot - photography should be fun, especially when photographing your children. After all, capturing the mood and the moment of your loved ones is way more important then whether you picked the right filter.
You can see more of Fiona's beautiful iphone photography on her instagram feed.


Maybe I was dropped on my head when I was little, or maybe I’m just super forgetful, but I don’t have the best memory. I can recall snippets of events, the gist of conversations, and the plot of a movie, but beyond that I kind of suck. I’m definitely not one of those people with a photographic memory, (or even someone who can remember what they ate for dinner on Monday) so I think that’s one of the reasons I love photography so much. I’ve always had a love for taking pictures, but when I had my daughter I knew that those snapshots would be my saving grace in capturing all the things I never wanted to forget.
I take a ton of pictures with my iPhone. They may not always be tack sharp, or be able to be blown up big and put on the wall, but that doesn’t matter to me. It’s freezing a moment, an expression, a memory – with whatever I’ve got with me.  I love using my big girl camera, but it’s just not always practical to bring it along to the grocery store or the doctor’s office. (Plus I probably would forget anyway) So having that little camera on my phone is perfect.
One of my favorite things about using my iPhone is how easy it is to get in the picture with my daughter. And this is SO important. (Get in the frame people!) I want my kids to be able to look back on these and see that I wasn’t just watching what they were doing, I was right there doing it with them. I took this photo with my iPhone taped to our bedroom ceiling… yup. I use the app TimerCam for all the shots I take of us together. So I just had her lay down, opened the app, set the focus on her, set the timer to 30 seconds, taped it up above her, and went in for some snuggles. Pretty sure my DSLR wouldn’t be cool with hanging off the ceiling. These are the kinds of things that I love to capture with my phone, because it’s fun and easy and there are a million possibilities! I’ve used tree stumps, car bumpers, and trashcans as “tripods” -  Don’t get stuck thinking that you can’t get good shots with your phone, there’s so much potential, you’ve just gotta get creative and go for it. And let go of perfection, it’s totally overrated.

I used packing/mailing tape to tape my iPhone to the ceiling. It's strong but didn't ruin the paint :) I would probably suggest testing a small spot first to make sure the tape won't rip any paint off. I just used 2 big strips across the phone both ways making sure I wasn't covering the camera. I use VSCO Cam and Snapseed for editing (both free!) and I have all of my Instagram phone shots printed through Chatbooks (so easy!).
You can see more of Bethany's beautiful iphone photography on her instagram feed.


Documenting the authenticity of childhood makes my heart skip a beat and the best way I’ve found doing so is with my iPhone. It took some getting use to, always carrying my phone around but I love how I can get it out and quickly pop the camera up to capture life as it is happening…versus running to get the big camera and adjusting the settings…  Bam, moment is over. Not only was it a new routine to carry my phone around but also a bit of a learning curve in understanding how my iPhone camera worked and what adjustments it allowed me to control. The more time I’ve taken to play around with my iPhone camera, the better quality pictures I have been able to capture. Because of this, I now shoot almost exclusively with my iPhone (I use the native camera app with iOS 8), to document my family’s days.
The two most important things to understand when using your phone’s camera are light and composition. I recommend only using natural light if possible, even indoors (turning off all inside lights and using the natural light coming in from windows and open doors). Test your camera in different lighting situations (dim or low light, backlight, direct or hard light, etc.).  You may find that the shutter speed slows down in low light creating a blurry picture and underexposes in a backlit picture. I like to lock focus on my subject by pressing and holding down on the screen and then adjusting the exposure slider up or down for situations like these. I also generally use the rule of thirds to compose my shots just like the picture I’ve shared here.

In this image, I locked focus on my daughter as she was playing in between the curtains. Since I was shooting into the light, the camera automatically underexposed so I pulled the exposure slider up to brighten the image. After, I pulled it into VSCO Cam to convert it to B&W.
My style is pretty simple and very much a quiet observer. I love how the light falls around her and shows you a bit of her introspective face. Converting it to B&W also took away distractions so that when I look at this, all I see is her. Gah, I melt.
A few last tips that I’ll leave you with… Try not to use the zoom feature on your phone’s camera as it quickly affects the quality of the picture. I recommend doing what you can when lining up your shot and then cropping it after the picture is taken. Also, whether it’s the cloud or manually downloading, don’t forget to backup your images! And, enjoy your work -- print your pictures that you’ve worked so hard to capture!!
You can see more of Andrea's work on her blog and facebook page, and see more of her beautiful iphone photoraphy on her instagram feed.


We were spending the day in the China countryside, exploring the hillsides and charming homes, where our gracious hosts kindly allowed our kids to roam all over their house. My little explorer was determined to find every door and water source to be discovered, and he wandered into this empty room where I found him. I stood back from the door in the center of the room so that the light fell in on his body and created the contrast of darkness with the door opening and light spilling in that conveyed that sense of exploration I wanted to convey.

 A central part of taking photographs for me is telling stories. Our lives are made up of them, as is the world around us, and I love for what I capture through my photographs to be more than just a pretty picture, but to communicate something of what is happening in the real life of that moment or that person or that place.
That is why my iphone literally changed my life. I love to use my big camera, but for awhile I was struggling with a lens that was often too tight for both my home and the city streets, my two main settings, and I was losing motivation to find ways to take the photographs that captured my heart and vision. In the meantime, life was moving on as I saved (and am still saving) for a new lens, my family was growing, and the world was passing by (being overdramatic never hurt anyone).
When my husband surprised me with an iphone, my whole perspective changed.  I loved the wide angles and flexibility it allowed within the space of my home, and I loved that it was always with me, so easy to pull out and play with the light and angles and even editing at a moments notice. At the same time, capturing details (like my fascination with hands, especially when cooking together) is an important part of storytelling, and is so much easier to capture with my iphone when we are in the thick of things like dough or flour or a pileup on dad.
I am always drawn to dramatic light and dark, moody photographs and have a continual love affair with black and white that threatens to take over my world. So using the exposure slider in the Vscocam controls helps me to achieve that look, as well as the easy to use filters Vscocam offers for editing. I still think about light all the time, and how it hits my subject or affects the mood of the setting. I still look for composition and whether there are distractions or ways to position myself to best tell the story of the moment. But often I take photos that don’t work. And the wonderful thing about the phone is that I can just keep trying without the cumbersome intrusion or time-consuming need of the Big Camera.
The most important factors for me while taking photos with my phone are:
  •       Looking for and noticing light
  •       Being aware of and noticing the details and moments that tell the story
  •      Using apps that give me control over exposure and focal point, like VSCOcam
My favorite apps are:
  • VSCOcam for shooting and editing. I use this almost exclusively
  • Camera+
  • Mextures for more extreme editing creativity
  • Whitagram for posting pictures that are not square
You can read more of Christine's story here and see more of her beautiful pictures on her instagram feed.


I was the last person I knew to use an iPhone. I had been using film for years, and had grown accustomed to the feel and familiarity of my beloved but ancient Minolta. My husband finally convinced me that I would have a level of spontaneity with an iPhone that my camera did not afford. He sold me on the idea that I could actually capture more moments, more of the wondrous little vignettes of childhood. Of course, I would also be given the instant gratification of seeing my images immediately come to life. 

Today, I am rarely without my iPhone. It allows me to catch my daughter's childhood as it is unfolding. It allows me to capture the littlest of things, the moments that would otherwise be lost. For me, it is not so much about getting the "best" picture, but more about getting to the heart of the picture. While I do post regularly on Instagram, I take many more pictures than I ever share. They are my treasures. They are my way of revisiting the magical moments that make up our everyday. 

This image is one that I took on a rare morning when my daughter slept in, and I could soak in the stillness of her sleeping self. It is dear to me because I have so many pictures of her asleep over the years, and I can see the small changes that occur over time...the little, growing hand and hair lightened by hours playing in the spring sunshine. It is a completely ordinary moment. But, an extraordinary one for her mother. It is my hope to give my daughter the gift of capturing her childhood. It is surely the most fleeting but glorious season of life. 

I primarily use VSCO to edit my images. I never spend more than one or two minutes on editing. I try to keep it simple. I don't want to overthink the editing process or lose clarity along the way. I try to find natural light in our home and outside. And I simply strive to keep my eye open to what is already before me. While I know that what people see is a picture, I hope they can see my heart. It is my guiding force for taking pictures. I am not a professional photographer. I am a mother with an iPhone, a few editing apps, and a desire to tell my daughter's story. 

I encourage parents to simply take pictures. Don't wait for extraordinary moments for they are already there. Capture them often. Tell your story. 
You can see more beautiful iPhone photos by Elizabeth Finch on her instagram feed.


If there's only one thing I've managed to take away from this motherhood gig, it would be to find the good in every situation. In this particular moment, we were making our way through our first of many bouts of separation anxiety. She's always been a little more dependent, a little more sensitive than her brother is so she doesn't seem to handle these phases well. I still remember that summer day when she was happy in nothing but a diaper, wrapped in my arms, with a soft kiss to her cheek as I tried to reaffirm that I am going nowhere without her. This fleeting moment that forever symbolizes why I became a mother in the first place would never have been capture were it not for a simple iPhone 4s with its cracks along the side from toddler mishaps, a scratched screen, and I'm pretty sure some kind of dried yogurt still waiting to be wiped off. 

Being the homebodies that we are, I've learned how to follow the light in our home in order to take nice photographs indoors. For this photo, I set my phone up on the changing table (any stable surface will work!) making sure to tap on the lightest part of the screen to adjust the exposure so that we would be silhouetted against the window. I then set up the timer and hurried to get us in place. The apps I use are PicTapGo for editing and GorillaCam for a timer (it photographs in bursts!). 
Sure, my 'big girl' camera could have done all of this, too. But when you have a fussy baby in your arms, fiddling with all the settings to get the best shot just doesn't always seem appealing. Looking back, I'm really grateful that I forever have this moment between my littlest and I captured for generations to see.
You can see more beautiful iPhone photos by Mindy Tingson on her instagram feed.