Photography lesson: 5 tips for shooting macro with your iPhone

Each month in the FMS Photo A Day challenge we’ve been exploring new photography techniques. I’ve loved trying out new ways of shooting, and it seems that loads of people are too. It’s nice to stretch outside the comfort zone, even if it makes me a bit nervous.

The photography technique this month is macro. In a nutshell it means shooting an object up really close. For a fancier definition, this is what Wikipedia has to say:

Macro photography, invented by Fritz Goro, is extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size.

For professional or really keen photographers, shooting macro might mean spending a bit of money on lenses and special equipment – which is great if you have the funds and desire. But for us happy-snappers, we’ll have to explore it all with what we have. This shouldn’t be a problem though. We obviously won’t get the clarity or effects that professionals do, but let’s explore anyway. Shall we?

5 tips for shooting macro with your iPhone

1. Get close to your subject, but not too close

The thing we really want to avoid when shooting macro is blur. Let’s pretend we’re planning on shooting a flower, the pollen in the centre of the flower. We want to get close, but not too close. If we put the photo just a few centimetres away, the iPhone will get confused and won’t be able to focus properly. So have your iPhone about 5-10cm away from your subject and let the focus settle on part of the flower {or whatever subject you’re shooting}.

2. Keep a steady hand

Don’t get too shaky otherwise the photo will definitely be blurry. Keep a steady hand, perhaps even supporting it on something or with your other hand.

3. Fill your frame with the subject matter

When shooting macro you want your frame {or the photo} to be almost completely filled with the subject matter. If you’re going to share on Instagram, take into consideration that you’ll have to crop it down into a square.

4. Use your autofocus

When your subject matter is on your iPhone’s screen, simply press the screen on the centre of the subject and let it focus in. This will result in a sharper photo. Take your photo when it’s focused.

5. Explore an App

For taking photos, I’m still having a love affair with Camera+. It costs $1.99 but I use it for every photo I take {totally worth the spend!}! For shooting Macro on Camera+ I’d suggest turning on the stabilizer, adding a little clarity when editing and avoid using filters.

If you do find that shooting Macro is something you adore, you can always get a lens for your iPhone for around $20. Photojojo sell them if you’re interested. Otherwise I grabbed a set of 3 lenses on eBay for $10 including postage, just search for them.

Now, here are some macro examples to get your creative juices flowing:

photo credit: helgabj


photo credit: Vanessa Pike-Russell

photo credit: ruurmo

Edited to add:

Here’s my photo that I shared. I took it using the cheap eBay Macro lens, a steady hand and getting in really close to the flower.


Are you enjoying trying out new photography techniques?


23 thoughts on “Photography lesson: 5 tips for shooting macro with your iPhone”

  1. Macro is my favorite type of photography. I am still trying to improve on it. I have trouble with a steady hand and also with just getting close enough. I plan to really work on this prompt this month.

    • I also had trouble with a steady hand so started working in video to help me improve (with iPhone, the slomo mode makes it even better!)…it gives you a feel for how close you need to be, with a lot less frustration than always missing still shots. I found it was really good practice to help steady your hand 🙂

  2. You can avoid camera shake by using your earbuds as a remote shutter release. You just click the volume control to take the photo. Of course, you have to be able to prop your phone on something, but it’s especially handy for low light situations. It works for the iPhone 5, not sure about earlier models.

  3. I love the photography technique prompts. It gets people thinking about photography who other wise wouldn’t. I’d love to see prompts for things like ‘Rule of Thirds’ or even some colour theory like ‘Complimentary Colours’ or ‘Analogous Colours’. People automatically begin to take different photos with just a little colour knowledge 🙂

  4. Sooo love this. Im excited about every photography lesson/technique prompt on the fmsphotoaday as I have no proper photography course/training whatsoever. Through this Im getting lessons for free and I get to explore my own creativity (and getting picked for the Fab Four was the happiest day ever). Thank you so much! Joining the fmsphotoaday changed my everyday life in many ways. 🙂

  5. I splashed and got myself an olloclip for my iPhone and I’m loving it! I use the fish-eye lens and the wide angle lens too, but definitely prefer playing with the macro lens. It’s a little costly, but if you take a lot of photographs with your iPhone and enjoy experimenting, I think it’s definitely worth it!

  6. Any suggestions for an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S III) or should the instructions above work the same for the Android too?

    • I only have an iPhone, so I can’t be sure… but Samsung users have said that it’s very similar. Definitely 1 2 and 3 tips are relevant.

      Can you get the Camera+ app on your phone? If so tip 5 is relevant too.

      And you’ll just need to check for tip 4. Easy. 🙂

    • I hav an android phone and I would say Chantelle’s tips are perfect for android as well as iphone. Photojojo lenses will also fit android phones and the macro lens is awesome… for example, did you know each little parachute seed from a dandelion has hooks?

  7. I love trying these photography techniques! The photo a day challenge and learning new techniques has been a great way to keep my mind active and creative.

  8. Been practicing this past week and it is such fun. Love learning more and trying new things with the camera! Thanks for your help!

  9. Hey I’m a lash artist and do eyelash extensions, I’m having problems taking good photos most of my clients are in the evening so it’s in a room and I need a clear photo of the lashes!! Help what would you recommend and do I need lighting etc?!

    • Oh gosh, you’d need a good lighting set-up. I am only ‘good’ with natural lighting but if you can only shoot at night then I’d suggest searching for info on lighting so you can create a mini studio.

      All the best. x

  10. Love macro! I often head into the garden, think about all the weeding I should be doing and takes pics of the weeds instead using my macro lens…because, yes, macro can even makes weeds look beautiful…case in point, refer attached photo 🙂

    We have heaps of awesome phone lenses in our new little camera shop at – macro, fisheye, CPL/polarising (great if you’re out at the beach or take lots of outdoorsy shots to cut down glare), cross screen, mirage, just to name a few.

    Our favourite case at the moment is the Turtleback Pentaeye which is a lens dial case which gives you 4 extra lenses for your iPhone in the palm of your hand – very nifty little gadget!

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