Complete Guide to Close Up iPhone Photography: A Must-Read

Complete Guide to Close Up iPhone Photography: A Must-Read

Close up of a dandelion in the evening sky
Close Up Dandelion Image

Have you ever wanted to be so up-close with nature using your iPhone but, you do not have any idea how to do it right? Nature, perhaps, is one of the best photography subjects ever and bringing out the best in it could either be easy or hard. Well, it depends on your skills and on your knowledge. 

Every day, you are offered a lot of opportunities that you tend to forget or overlook the little things. But these little things make up great photos, thus close-up photography. In this article, we will talk about what close up photography is alongside with some tips and tricks on how you can capture amazing close-up photos. 

What is Close Up Photography?

More often than not, close up photography is mistaken as macro photography. But in reality, these two are not exactly the same. They have similarities but they are different in some ways as well. So, what makes close up photography different from macro photography?

Close up photography refers to the process of taking images at a very close range in order for your subject to fill up the frame while still giving the viewers a sense of what they are looking at and the subject could still relate to the world around it.

The subjects of close-up photography are often small things such as insects, flowers, or plants. Unlike macro photography, which requires a real macro lens, close up photography can be achieved with any lens.

Another thing that makes close up photography different from macro photography is that with macro photography, the entire frame is filled with the image of the subject while with close up photography, a part of the frame isn’t filled with the subject. 

Close Up Photography Tips

Close up photography is not the easiest thing to do on earth most especially when you are just new to it. Learning a few things about it could help you kickstart taking amazing close up shots. Are you ready to venture into the world of close up photography? If yes, take a look at the following tips that might come in handy along the way. 

1. Get the focus right. 

Getting the focus right is very important in all types of photography and close up photography is not an exemption to it. Besides, the focus is even more important with close up photography. 

The iPhone cameras are generally designed to come up with images that have a large depth of field. This means that the images that you will have a good sharp focus. 

But, if you ever have tried taking a close up shot with your iPhone, you might have noticed how your background turns blurry as you get closer to your subject. This occurs because only a part of the image is in focus as the depth of field becomes more shallow. 

talented man photographing baby elephant with his mobile phone camera in Chitwan national park, Nepal
Setting the focus right is important for a clear and sharp image.

Having such in mind, it is very important that you focus on the part where you exactly want to take a close up shot. This will allow you to get your main subject in sharp focus. This entails knowing the composition of your photos alongside the exact area where you want your shot to be focused. 

Once you know where your focus is, tap the area on your iPhone’s camera screen where your subject is located. You will notice on the screen how the focus on your subject sharpens while the background gets out of focus or turns blurry. 

Getting the focus exactly right might take several attempts. You might also need to take a few steps forward or backward from your subject in order to keep a sharp focus.

Another helpful tip that you could try to get your focus right is to slightly zoom in on your subject. To zoom in or out, simply pinch your screen inwards or outwards. A slider will appear which you can also use to zoom in or out. When zooming in, just make sure that you do not overdo it or the final image will turn out grainy and of poor quality. 

2. Keep it still.

Keeping your iPhone still when taking close-up shots is a must. This will help you achieve a nice and sharp focus. But, how will you keep your iPhone steady? There are a few things that you could actually do and these are the following:

  • Use a tripod to keep your iPhone steady. There are a lot of tripods out there but if possible, choose a tripod that is specifically made for an iPhone to a firmer grip. 
  • Hold your phone or arm against something steady such as a tree, a wall, or a rock.
  • Use a bean bag to support your camera most especially when you have to go low. A small bean bag will do. When using a bean bag, push your iPhone into its softness for optimum support and to lessen or eliminate any movement as well.

3. Choose the appropriate background.

It is very easy for you to overlook your background when it comes to close-up photography since you tend to invest your focus on your subject alone. But actually, your background is also a very important aspect that you should always consider.

Close up image of a purple flower with light background.
Keeping the background simple is very important so that your subject will not be overpowered.

With close up photography, your background should be free from any distraction – anything that will take the viewers’ attention from your subject. Avoid backgrounds with loud or distractive colors. If possible, go for solid or light colors to enhance or highlight your subject even more. The sky, grass, or a wall also makes a great background.

When choosing a background, always remember that what you will pick can either make or break the overall outcome of your image. The right background could also add more context to your image. 

4. Go minimal. 

In this complicated world, choose to go minimal with close up photography. To keep things minimal, choose a light or plain background to keep your subject the center of attention. You could also go down low so that the sky will serve as your background. Doing so lessens any distraction caused by the different shapes of your subject. 

Another option to keep things minimal with close up photography is to go for uniform and textured backgrounds such as a fence, rippling water, or a wall. The key here is to keep things less or to not include things that are not actually needed in the image. These things will just serve as distractors which are not exactly what you want in your photos. 

5. Think of the composition of your image carefully.

Blue-and-yellow macaw (lat. Ara ararauna) close-up
The way you compose your images will either make or break your shots.

The composition of your image when it comes to close up photography is as important as the composition of an image of landscape photography. Thus, it is always a good thing for the rule of thirds when taking images.

The rule of thirds is all about imaginary dividing your iPhone’s camera screen into nine equal squares and putting your subject where the lines intersect. Actually, you do not have to imagine since your iPhone has built-in gridlines that you can just turn on to make things easier for you. All you have to do is to go to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid. 

When using the gridlines or the rule of thirds, always think of where and how exactly where you place your subject. There are times that it would be impossible for you to include your entire subject thus, you have to choose the part which you want to see in your photo. 

6. Try out different or unconventional angles. 

There are infinite ways on how you can take a close up photo but the angle from where you will be taking the image can be the key for a better outcome. Do not be afraid to try out different angles even when it takes you to be in strange positions. All your hard work will be worth it once you see how stunningly unusual the images are. 

Some of the unconventional angles that you can try with close up photography include going down low or lying from the ground to shoot close up images from a very low angle. You can also shoot beneath your subject to change your perspective completely. This will also give you a more unique view of the scene.

When you go down low, the bright light coming from the sun can highlight the colors and the details of your subject even more. This is most especially true during summertime. Try making tall crops as your subject and shot them from beneath. 

7. Look for the extraordinary.

Autumn leaves falling from the tree
Choosing an unusual photography subject make your images standout.

It is undeniable that nature is full of extraordinary and wonderful surprises which often make up amazing photographs. From the falling of a leaf to an unusual form of a flower, all of these things offer great shooting opportunities. 

Another extraordinary thing that makes up close-up photography is through reflections. Reflections are hard to find but they are definitely worth looking for. 

Actually, there are a lot of ordinary things out there which can serve as your subject. Going out of the ordinary is sometimes important most especially when you want your shot to stand out from the rest of the images. 

8. Get the right lighting.

The best time to shoot is during the golden hours since the lighting is soft, warm, and beautiful. The golden hours refer to sunrise or sunset. Less glare will also appear when shooting during the golden hours since the natural light is less harsh.

Taking images when the sun is near the horizon will make your subject lit from the side and not from above which enhances the shadows and the textures of the photo. Taking close up images during midday is not advised at all.

Shooting during foggy or cloudy days is also a good idea as the cloud or sun diffuses the sunlight thus, the light is softer and more uniform. It is also during these days that moody shots are best taken.

On the other hand, you could also use the bright sunlight to come up with some creative shots. For example, you can create a Bokeh effect out of it. To come up with such a creative effect, capture your images in a way that the bright sunlight is filtered behind your subject. 

You could also add the sun rays for extra effect on your close up shots. Or, you could create a silhouette to show off the different shapes and forms of your subject. To create a silhouette, place your light source behind your subject. 

9. Balance your flash.

Man holding the new phone with yellow star bokeh background featuring a flare flash light from the rear flash and camera - holiday concept
Keeping your flash balanced will help you avoid dark background.

When taking close up shots, make sure that your flash does not overpower the existing light. When the flash overpowers the existing light, you might get a dramatic image but the shadows might appear too dark or the background could turn out black. 

Set your camera setting in a way that your flash and existing light will be balanced so that the natural light will fill in the shadows. Unfortunately, your iPhone can’t do this automatically thus, you have to set this manually by decreasing your shutter speed until the details you need to see appear dark. But you have to be careful when doing so since a slow shutter speed often produces some problems. 

10. Be patient.

“Patience is a virtue,” they say. And, true enough, patience will bring you somewhere with close up photography. Finding the subject and getting the right timing is a work of time. You just can’t do it in a few seconds, not even a pro can do it. 

You need a lot of patience in order to set things right and capture amazing photographs. Without patience, you will surely end up with a messed up close up image. Keep your patience as long as you can and never settle for less. 

How to Set Up the Subject (Composition)

  • Make the subject the only focus by isolating it. This means that your subject should be the main thing in your setup and nothing else. The presence of any unnecessary object is not needed as it will just take away the focus from the focal point.
  • Keep the setup and the image free from any distractions such as colorful or bright elements. The presence of any distraction from your setup is not encouraged at all. This is because the focus will be altered to it thus, your subject will be out of focus already. There is a tendency that the viewers will focus on the other object and not with your subject.
  • Keep the background simple by using plain and solid colors or textured surface and not with boldly printed ones. Never use loud colors as your background. In as much as possible, your background should remain simple and plain to give more emphasis to your subject. 
  • Find different shapes and sizes in your subject. Finding different shapes and sizes in your image and emphasizing them will give you a different outcome. These shapes and sizes could attract your viewer’s eye into them and appreciate your output even more. 

Close Up Photography Subjects

1. Eyes

Closeup shot of woman eye with day makeup
The eyes are very interesting yet full of mystery.

Nothing is more interesting and is more detailed than the eyes. More than just seeing, the eyes serve a number of photographic purposes. It also serves as a non-verbal communication tool where emotions are easily delivered and read. 

The eyes are a great photography subject with how limitless or boundless possibilities that it offers. It’s color and beautiful lines are unique and beautiful for a close-up photograph. 

2. Flowers

As colorful as they are, flowers are indeed one of the best close-up photography subjects. There are a lot of flowers which you can choose from. There are around 40,00 species but of course, your subject depends on the flowers that grow in your area. One thing is for sure, you will never run out of choices when it comes to making flowers as your subject. 

3. Insects

Beetles are a group of insects that form order Coleoptera, in the superorder Endopterygota. Their front pair of wings is hardened into wing-cases, elytra, distinguishing them from most other insects.
Close up shots of insects are hard to take due to their mobility and unpredictability.

You might find it creepy to make insects as your subject but insects have their own beauty which makes them stand out. With close up photography, you are exposing the insects into a totally different angle. You get to expose their intricate patterns, beautiful colors, and unique parts which sets them beautifully apart. 

Insect close up photography could be very challenging since their actions or movements are very unpredictable. Getting the right timing to shoot them is not easy but remember, nothing good comes easy. 

4. Texture

When it comes to close up photography, one of the most versatile subjects that you could ever have is texture. Why? Simply because everything that exists has texture. Some are obvious while others will need you to get closer to them. Besides, the spices you have at home can be a good close up subject that could give you a rough texture. Textured objects come in different colors and sizes and can be manipulated to your desired outcome. 

5. Patterns

You can see patterns everywhere. You just have to widen your horizon on how you can make these patterns new and pleasing to the eyes. These patterns combine texture and abstraction thus, the unique features that it offers when it comes to close up photography. With patterns, you are offered a lot of creative ideas that you can play to enhance your outcome better. 

6. Jewelry

Pearl Golden Bracelets and ring on pink background - Pearl Bracelets on paper background setup
With how beautiful and intricate they are, jewelry pieces are indeed stunning close-up photography subjects.

If you have been taking images of different products, then most probably, you already know the magic that close-up photography can do with jewelry pieces. There is no such thing as capturing the beautiful details of jewelry while creating a Bokeh effect as a background. What is good about jewelry as a close-up photography subject is that it makes the jewelry appear bigger than its original size thus, this little piece is turned into an object of grandeur. 

7. Water Droplets

Water droplets is a great close up photography subject for a lot of reasons. You could create your own water droplet by sprinkling water using your hand or a water gun or wait until the rain ends. What makes raindrops incredibly beautiful is that they add texture to your photos. 

Water droplets allow the colors to shine by blurring out the background. Sometimes, these water droplets also reflect objects that are in front of them. 

8. Food

Aside from filling up empty stomachs, foods are also great when it comes to close up photography. Who in this world would not want to see mouth-watering foods, right? Getting up close with the foods you eat allows you to emphasize their texture, beauty, and color alongside giving your viewers an idea of what the food actually tastes like. It is like teasing the taste palettes of your viewers. 

9. Leaves

Green background concepts.Tropical palm leaves, jungle leaf close up
With their intricate patterns and different colors and shapes, leaves are truly one stunning photography subject.

Anything that is natural is a beautiful close-up photography subject. Leaves as your photography subject are not just ideal because there are a lot of leaves that you can choose from but because each of these leaves is constantly changing in size, color, shape, and texture. Their lines make them even more interesting. 

10. Feather

As mentioned a while ago, natural objects are really beautiful close-up photography subjects. Making feather your subject is beautiful and is new to others. You help them expand their knowledge with things they have never seen up close before. 


As interesting as it sounds, close up photography is undeniably one of the best photography forms. It can be challenging and will require you to learn a few new things but sure enough, everything will be worth it once you have captured that one defining shot. 

That’s it! We hope you have learned something from this article that will help you take incredible close-up shots. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Share it with us in the comment box!