iPhone and iPad

Pimp Your iPhone for Photography Zen

Bakari Chavanu 19-09-2013

The iPhone makes taking photos nearly effortless. It’s a camera in your pocket or purse wherever you go, and the massive number of apps and accessories make shooting photos with the device an art and culture of its own, which in many circles is known as iPhoneography.


Some of the following gadgets and accessories are part of my iPhone camera arsenal, and others are recommendations that I find useful. All are designed to make shooting with an iPhone an even better experience.

Shoot Grip

Your iPhone fitted in a snuggly case, makes for a good grip when shooting photos, but you might to check out Photojojo’s iPhone Shutter Grip ($40.00), which makes your iPhone feel a little more like a traditional point-and-shoot camera, with the shutter button at the top.

Iphone shutter

Headphone Shutter

The iPhone comes with its own useful photo taking accessories, and that is the earphones. If you don’t it know yet, the volume up button on Apple’s earphones, and some third-party earphones, can be used to activate the shutter for the iPhone camera app, and other third-party camera apps.

Remote trigger


This is a useful accessory for when you’re tying to shoot macro shots, when you’re shooting with the phone on a tripod or when you’re shooting in low light. It can also be useful for shooting self-portraits.

Tripod Mount

If you want to shoot great photos, at some point you need to invest in a tripod and tripod mount. I purchased the tripod mount pictured below a few years ago, but I am now unable to find the makers of the gadget. There are other alternatives, though, like the popular Studio Neat Glif Tripod Mount for the iPhone 5.

Tripod mount

For those of you on a tight budget, you can also make yourself a DIY tripod mount using Tina’s guide 3 Cheap & Easy DIY Smartphone Tripod Mounts Made & Tested Unless you are an avid photographer, you'll hardly miss the added features of a proper camera. Too bad your tripod isn't compatible with your smartphone. Or is it? Maybe one day smartphones will come with... Read More  (though you’ll still need to buy the tripod).


Handheld Stabilizer

Another useful original Kickstarter gadget I use on occasion is the Woxom SlingShot ($19.99), which can be used as a tabletop tripod, a phone holder for stabilizing video shots, or a tripod mount. The rubber epistatic holder allows you to mount your camera even with a case on it.

Phone holder

If you really want smooth video you can pay top-whack for a Steadicam Smoothee from Tiffen, a company that specialize in making high-end stabilization systems for professionals. The Smoothee can be had for around $169, though if you start looking the Internet is full of DIY versions you can make too.

Waterproof Case

If you want to explore underwater photography, or if you find yourself trying to shoot in conditions in which your iPhone gets exposed to water, a waterproof case might be one of the smartest investments you can make. I own a Lifeproof  case ($79.99), which I’ve only tested so far in my bathroom sink.


Lifeproof case

I didn’t see any leaks in my waterproof test, but the case has received mixed reviews, so be sure to test the case before you buy it for any substantial or long-term underwater use.

External Lens

I haven’t purchased an external lens for my iPhone, but this Olloclip 3-in-One Lens System ($69.95) for the iPhone 5 has received mostly favorable reviews on Amazon. This is a macro, fisheye, and wide-angle lens that can be useful for more creative shots.

Pimp Your iPhone for Photography Zen iP4 1


The Sanoxy 12x Telephoto lenses for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 are affordable telephoto lenses, that provide some reach you can’t get with the default camera lens. Photojojo also sells a pack of keychain size Jelly Camera Phone ($15.00) Filters that can add add kaleidoscopic, wide angle, and starbursts to your photographic repertoire.


If you find that your photos often have a purple lens flare, you might want to check camHoodie Lens Hood Case for the iPhone 5, which reduces that type of colorization.

For more tips about shooting with a clip-on lens, check out Tim’s article about smartphone photography and external lenses Super Zoom & Lens Tips for Your Smartphone While our smartphones are equipped with better cameras than ever before, we're still stuck with the same digital zoom technology that's been around for years. That's because there's no fixing digital zoom - it's permanently... Read More . Cult Of Mac also has a guide for makeshift DIY iPhone camera filters and lenses using common objects like sunglasses, mirrors, binoculars, and even vaseline for a dreamy soft focus effect.

Battery Charger

Anytime you take your phone out on an extended photo shoot, the battery will inevitably drain quickly and one way of getting round this is to bring a backup. I like the Jockery battery ($39.95) which comes in smaller sizes than the one below. I stick the charger in my back pocket or hip bag with the phone attached to an extended USB cord.

IMG 1640

The Mophie Juice Pack ($72.00), available for the iPhone 4/4S and 5, and the Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation ($79.95), also get good reviews from iPhone photographers. We’ve also previously rounded up the five best battery cases for the iPhone 5 The Best iPhone 5 Battery Cases Compared The small, thin iPhone 5 only has so much room, and a small battery almost always leads to modest talk time. Buying a battery case is the easy solution. But which should you buy? There... Read More , complete with comparisons for each.

If you do get stuck, be sure to check out these ideas for charging your iPhone 5 Ways To Charge Your Phone In An Emergency Smartphones can be important tools in an emergency. Besides providing the chance to call for help, a phone can act as a flashlight, compass and GPS. But all of a phone’s functions rely on the... Read More while out on a shoot.

iPhone Apps

We have reviewed many iPhone camera apps, so you definitely want to have a folder of photo apps that extend the reach and capabilities of the iPhone camera. My top recommendations include ProCamera From The Default iPhone Camera To The Better ProCamera For Serious Shutterbugs For the last several weeks, I've downloaded over a dozen camera and video apps for the iPhone, and though each has something unique to offer, I was particularly interested in finding the most practical camera... Read More  or Camera+ Take Better Pictures on iPhone With Free Camera Plus Read More  for control and Fast Camera 2 Quick Shooting Photo Apps & 2 Similar Videocam Apps [iPhone & iPad] It seems that every time I search the iTunes App Store for iPhone camera-related apps, I discover tools which yet again make the traditional point-and-shoot or compact cameras nearly obsolete. Most iPhone camera users know... Read More  or SnappyCam for high speed photography. The Instagram New To Instagram? Top Tips For Newbies When you’re getting started on Instagram, there are a few tips and tricks to bear in mind to make sure that you hit the ground running. The popular app is part photo-sharing site and part... Read More  and Hipstamatic ($1.99) apps are useful for enhancing and applying filters to images, as well as Nancy Messieh’s recommendation, VSCO Cam app (Free), reviewed in this article Beyond Filters: Unique & Interesting iPhone Camera Apps The App Store is packed with so many camera and video apps that it becomes difficult to filter out the noise. Today we're taking some of the guess work out of that equation. Read More .

In addition to iOS and iCloud Photo Stream What Is iCloud Drive and How Does It Work? Confused about what makes iCloud Drive different to Apple's other cloud services? Let us show you what it can do, and how you can make the most of it. Read More  for the iPhone, PhotoSync PhotoSync 2.0 Syncs Your Photos and Videos Between iOS, Mac and Windows The iPhone photo syncing process has never been that easy, even with Apple's Photo Stream feature. I often rely on PhotoSync, especially when I don't want to haul out Aperture just to get at a... Read More is also a useful app for syncing iPhone photos and videos between your devices.

Other Recommendations

The above are my personal recommendations for iPhone apps and accessories. What are yours? Let us know in the comment section below. And if you’re new to iPhone photography, be sure to read my beginner Beginners Guide To Using The iPhone Camera If you haven't used the iPhone Camera app much, or if you’re a new user of the device, you may not realize just how close the app is to literally being a point-and-shoot camera, and... Read More and advanced A Beginners Guide to Advanced iPhone Camera Features A few weeks ago, we published a Beginners Guide To Using the iPhone Camera, which explains how to use the default features of the camera app, including the how to frame, expose and focus a... Read More guide to the subject, as well as my free MUO Essential Guide to Digital Photography A Beginner's Guide To Digital Photography Digital photography is a great hobby, but it can be intimidating, too. This beginner's guide will tell you everything you need to know to get started! Read More .

Image credit: iPhone on miniSkates via Flickr

Related topics: iPhone Case, iPhoneography, Smartphone Photography.

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