Beryl Ayn Young » Photographic teachings for the mind, body, & soul

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iPhoneography 101: A Teachable Moment

It all began as we were all sitting around the dinner table a few weeks ago.

In a rare moment of kindness, Brielle decided she wanted to give her mommy kisses and hugs. This folks, was truly a treat. My daughter has never been the snuggle up and love on her momma type. She’s normally a busy, independent, free-spirited and inquisitive little girl.

“Get the camera!” I yelled to my Calmer.

The odds were stacked against him with the dim lights and squirmy toddler. He quickly grabbed his iPhone, unlocked it speedy fast, and set up the shot.

And then I watched as he made the biggest iPhonography violation over and over again.

He waited to press the shutter until the exact moment he wanted to take the photo. Again and again he’d try, but he wasn’t happy with the results. His method didn’t take into account the time it would take for the iPhone to focus and register the fact that YES! he really did want to take the photo RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

Unfortunately if you wait to press the shutter there is often a delay between when you press the button to when the camera actually focuses in on your subject and snaps the picture.

For my Calmer, during this particular instance, by the time the phone caught on to his wishes to capture me and our daughter loving on one another the moment was already lost because the phone was taking its sweet time trying to focus on us.

After a few frustrating attempts I stopped him because I knew the solution to ‘getting the shot’.

“Get your finger ready, press down that camera button, hold down the shutter, and wait to move your finger until the precise moment!” I advised. (I felt a bit like a First Grade teacher telling their students to ‘get their fingers ready’ as they gear up to track the words in a book). But the same rule truly does apply here.

See, the iPhone has this great feature where when you hold down that camera/shutter button and follow your subject, the camera will refocus as your subject moves. And, the moment when you release that button is the exact moment when your camera will take the photo!


Before I knew about this technique I was constantly getting blurry active photos like this:


But now I’m confident that I’ll capture the precise moment that she’s still, happy, and totally camera ready.

Have you been struggling with your iPhone photos like my Calmer was? Find this tip helpful? Go get your iPhone now, try this out, and report your findings in the comments below (I’d especially like to hear if this technique works on other non iPhone cameras too!). And, as always, if you found this tip helpful you know what to do. Click the handy dandy share button below and spread the love! xo.

  • Theresa - I tried with using my husband as the subject. (He wasn’t too happy about it!) He waved his hands and I tried just hold the button down on my Galaxy SII (Android) and it was a little blurry. I also took one like I normally do with him doing the same waving and it was much more blurrier than the first one. I don’t know how reliable my results are having only taken 2 pictures. This is something I will try tomorrow when the kids are awake. I think my hubby was just non interested and was waving his hands more than a kid would be doing.ReplyCancel

    • Heather - I also have a Galaxy SII! I have been very happy with my pictures from it so far. I had a HTC Evo before and always had blurry pictures. I find the Galaxy takes them much faster.ReplyCancel

    • berylayn - How did trial #2 go? Would love to hear how this tip works on your Galaxy!ReplyCancel

      • Theresa - So I had the kids out today and was giving this tip a try….I got to say I am disappointed to say it does not work on my Galaxy SII. Though I must also mention that I really don’t get blurry pictures using the phone camera as I always had, just pushing the button when I wanted the shot. This phone seems to work very well and takes the pictures very quickly. I ended up having more blurred pictures during this trial then I ever had before. Must be the difference between Apple and Android! lolReplyCancel

  • Franchesca - Ohhhhhhh myyyyy GOODNESS!!!!!!! Do you know how many blurry moments you have just saved LOL!!! Love this!!! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • berylayn - I knew you’d love this one Fran!ReplyCancel

  • shannon - wow! did not know this handy little trick! will try it out tomorrow on the kiddos! THANKS!!ReplyCancel

    • berylayn - How’d it go? Would love to hear your results!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Oh my goodness….that’s FABULOUS!!!! It even works on my iPad! Thanks Beryl!ReplyCancel

    • berylayn - WOOT! Thanks for the iPad addition, I had never tried it on there before.ReplyCancel

      • Theresa - Now I have to try this on my Ipod. That is the only apple product I have. Usually my 4 yr old with autism plays with it. He loves taking picture (usually of himself) if it works on there maybe I can teach him how to master this trick so he can actually see the photos he takes!ReplyCancel

        • berylayn - Let me know how it works on the iPod! We have an older iPod that doesn’t have a camera, so I have no clue if it works on there…but as was confirmed by another reader yesterday – it does work on an iPad so I bet it’ll work on the iPod too!!ReplyCancel

  • Christina - Thanks for another great tip! This works for Joseph’s dog too. 😉ReplyCancel

    • berylayn - Hahaha!!!! I bet his dog probably moves at about the same speed as Brielle. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stefanie - Ooooo. Thank you! I can’t wait to try this! I can always count on you Beryl.ReplyCancel

    • berylayn - Haha! Awesome. Let me know how it goes. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Thank you!!! I can’t believe I didn’t know this! So so sooo helpful!ReplyCancel

  • Teresa Yasutis - Thank you!! I knew there was a trick to getting the shutter to respond quicker! Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie D - Oh wow!! You’re brilliant! Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Jen - Thank you so much. That is awesome to know. Will help me so much in the future.ReplyCancel

  • Liz - I don’t have an iphone but I do have an ipod touch and it works great with that. Thank you for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia M - Thanks for sharing this tip! I had no idea.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - Great tip! This was one of the first fundamentals that I learned during a recent tutorial – that the shutter doesn’t click when it’s touched, but when it’s released. It’s changed how I take every photo now with my iPhone!ReplyCancel

  • Mindi - what the what??!?!?! I had NO idea about this!!! Thanks!!!!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Amanda Socci - Love this tip. Absolutely had NO idea! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Finally! The photo app you’ve been waiting for… - […] of time you also know I’m a HUGE fan of the camera on my iPhone too. I love figuring out new tips and tricks to make working with it easier.  And, as a busy mom I know it’s the camera I will […]ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - I tried this on my iphone and it went into “cheetah” mode and took 1,000 shots! lol! At least I got a few good pics! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • berylayn - Oh no!!! They changed this feature when they went to IOS 7. I still haven’t found a way to do this with the updates. Boo! (but yay for cheetah mode!!)ReplyCancel

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