5 Ways the iPhone Fails at Photography

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my iPhone for photography. It takes some amazing pictures at any time I want. But here's what I realized.. while the iPhone is great at everyday shots (and that goes for pretty much any smart phone these days), it often fails when it comes to producing the caliber of images would be considered professional standard. 

But why does it matter? Why even care whether your everyday iPhone camera can capture photographs that can look good printed and enjoyed for more than a few years? 

Because of our children.

Because we have a stack of family albums that our parents lovingly put together with photographs from when we were little. We have a record. A real record of images we can look back on.. but what will our children have?

So here are my biggest issues with the iPhone.. Well, they're the issues I think everyone should be aware of when they rely on their phone as the primary (and often only) way to capture and preserve photographs...

 Image of a 6 year old girl on a white bed. Studio portrait by N. Lalor Photography in Greenwich Connecticut.

The iPhone FAILS at..

1. Capturing fast-moving objects

 Sweet image of a Dad and his 2 year old girl. Studio portrait by N. Lalor Photography in Greenwich Connecticut.

The iPhone notoriously sucks at photographing fast-moving objects (yes, like your toddler). It's pretty much a crapshoot. You might get the photo you were trying to capture, or you might get a blurry mess as your baby races off in the opposite direction. There's a very obvious delay from the time you click that shutter button until the camera actually captures the image. A delay that messes up your chances of getting the picture that you really want. And trust me when I tell you, children require a split-second reaction time when it comes to photos!

This is where the fancy large cameras really excel. The delay is minimized, the focus is super fast, and in the hands of a professional, it can catch those split-moment expressions we always seem to miss with the phone. Even with my older kids, taking photos with my iPhone often involves a lot of "Stay still!" and "Look over here for one second!". That's because by the time I press that button, my wiggly boys are no longer where I need them to be!

2. A professional-looking headshot

 Image of a woman business owner, headshot. Studio portrait by N. Lalor Photography in Greenwich Connecticut.

While there are some photographers that can use the iPhone to create amazing portraits, for the rest of us, an iPhone headshot painfully fails to come across as professional. This goes for LinkedIn and Facebook profile images that are the first introduction to potential employers and customers. In this day and age, your image on the internet is pretty much everything. Professional photography has never been more accessible as it is now (you can find a photographer for any budget!).. so really, there is no excuse.

3. Getting everyone in the shot

There's always someone holding the phone to take the photo. And usually that's Mom. Sometimes, we ask the husband to please take a picture of us with our children, so we have some record of our existence! But in all seriousness.. when was the last time the whole family was in the photo together? And looked good? Until the iPhone comes out with that "magically make everyone look slim and beautiful" filter, having someone tell you when you have a weird expression on your face or are sporting a double-chin is kind of priceless. So yea, it helps having someone else hold the camera and use the proper lens focal length (hint: phone cameras make people towards the edge appear wider) to get that whole-family shot you love.

 Image of a large printed frame showing a happy laughing family. Studio portrait by N. Lalor Photography in Greenwich Connecticut.

4. Printing BIG

This is the one that really gets me. I go on vacation. I take photographs of some amazing landscape or of my kids actually enjoying themselves. I come home and want to print them.. but the quality falls apart. iPhone photos are great for Instagram and Facebook, where resolution barely matters. But try to print a picture that was taken in low-light or under less than ideal conditions, and you get a grainy mess. And listen, most of the time the picture is fine to print in a small size. But having something printed large, framed on the wall, forget it. It's a missed opportunity. There's no going back.. and that's why it's such a letdown!

5. Having long-lasting images

 Image of a heirloom print and presentation box. Studio portrait by N. Lalor Photography in Greenwich Connecticut.

iPhone photos are digital. While that's what we're all used to nowadays - it is how to view most photographs after all - but it doesn't bode well for longevity. Digital files get lost all the time. Hard drives fail. Facebook accounts get accidentally deleted. Even photos in the cloud aren't 100% safe from extinction. The only real way to safeguard your images is to print them! But are people doing that? Sure, some are. But most aren't. The biggest benefit of hiring a professional to take your family portraits is that any photographer worth their salt will make sure you walk away with physical prints of your photographs. Why? Because it's important. And because it's the best way to enjoy your images!


In the end, it's really all about knowing the limitations of the technology you're using. The iPhone is a fantastic tool. But as great as the camera appears to be, it's still nowhere near professional-quality equipment and a well-trained photographer behind the lens.

And yes, I'm 100% motivated to get you to book a family session with me instead of using your iPhone to take lackluster family pictures for your holiday card. Why wouldn't I be? You should have beautiful portraits of your family. You should have museum-quality prints. And you should have large gorgeous artwork on your walls, too!