iPhone Wedding Photography 101

“The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You.”Chase Jarvis

We, as photographers, knew it was coming. We knew it when we saw improvements being made in digital photo technology on a regular basis. We knew it when various online photo communities like Instagram began to emerge, which allowed people to share their images with the rest of the world and capture some pretty amazing photos from the palm of their hands. We knew it when we saw big companies like Apple shifting their business strategy/focus from personal computing to mobile technology. I began to realize it when I began to receive repeating comments from people when I shared my iPhone photos with them. Comments like: “Did you really take that with your iPhone?” or “How did you take such an amazing shot with just your phone?” We all have thought about it at one point or was a topic of our conversation with friends / colleagues. What am I talking about? Wedding iPhoneography.

I recently saw the movie “Letters to Juliet” (I know, I am a romantic sap. But it makes me become a better wedding photographer – at least that’s my excuse) and I loved this quote: ” ‘What’ and ‘if’ are two words as non-threatening as words can be, but put them together side by side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life.” So I began to ask myself, “What if, I photographed an entire wedding using only my iPhone?” Then all these questions and doubt began creeping in my mind. Questions like: “Is my iPhone good enough?” “Will my battery last long enough?” “What if I fail?” “How will my phone handle under low-light situations?” “Will I look like a fool?”, etc. But I told myself that I will never get an answer to my main question “What if?” if I didn’t follow up with another question: “Why not?” With this came my first project which I want to share everyone out there who might be interested in this topic.

My First iPhone Wedding Gear Checklist

I spend most of my time photographing weddings professionally (www.kennykim.com). It’s rare that I get to attend one as a guest. But this year, I had the privilege of attending two weddings as a guest – which meant that I could put my theory to test. First one, was little bit more difficult because I was actually one of the groomsmen. So I practiced snapping some photos here and there throughout the day using my iPhone. The results that I got from that day gave me enough encouragement to challenge myself to see if photographing an entire wedding (from getting ready until the reception) using only your iPhone can be done. Last weekend, I got to attend another wedding as a guest. Few weeks prior to this wedding, I shared my idea by with the couple and they were more than happy to allow me to test out my theory. With their blessing, I photographed my first wedding using just my iPhone 4 (not 4s), a mini tripod, 20″ light reflector disc and the Mophie Juice Pack Air for battery backup. (I also brought a video light and my canon lens mug because I had so much room left in my gear bag I felt like I had to fill it with something else :-).

In total, I captured approximately 1000 photos, of which, I narrowed down to about 250 being usable. Out of those, I selected about 75 to share with you because that is about the same amount of photos I will use to make an album book to tell the story of their wedding day. iPhone 4 definitely has its limitations right now. I wish I had the iPhone4s to test out but I am still holding out for the iPhone5 before I make my next upgrade – by then, I think I can offer iPhone wedding packages to clients that are interested in hiring me for this service.


Thanks to Katherine Salvatori, the lead photographer, for capturing me in action.

Here are some collection of photos I captured from Michele & Joseph’s wedding: (Just to be clear, I was not the lead photographer for this wedding. Anyone interested in having iPhone photography for your wedding day, should still hire a main professional first. This is a great addition/compliment to your wedding day experience, but should not replace the main photographer – at least for now).

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

iPhone Wedding Photography Gallery

I hope you enjoyed perusing through these photos. Feel free to share this post or ask any questions. I would also love to hear your thoughts. Finally, if anyone out there is interested in commissioning me as an iPhone wedding photographer, I will take them on a limited basis, at a special introductory rate until iPhone 5 is released.

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40 Responses to “iPhone Wedding Photography 101”

  1. oh little Michelle got married~?!

  2. Matt Hall says:

    Simply amazing Kenny! The pictures turned out great but the most inspiring part is your desire to not listen to the naysayers and to do what others did not have the courage to do. Your desire to push the envelop makes you what’s known as a “world changer”. I am blessed to know you.

    – Sent from my iPhone 4

  3. Mandy Mohler says:

    A good photographer is a good photographer. I see amazing compositions and strong attention to detail. A nice camera does not make a photographer.
    What a wonderful experiment. Of course the reprints won’t be incredibly high resolution, but the moments are caught, and that is what is important.
    This is a great idea to keep in mind should your professional equipment fail for one thing or another. After all, The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You! Nice work!

  4. Dave says:

    The single most encouraging blog post I’ve read in awhile. Thanks for the motivation to make this work for my own, non-wedding, event.

  5. Brave experiment and great images! You captured lots of emotion. I have a much more difficult time getting good exposure with my iPhone inside versus outside. I would love it if you might be willing to share which camera app you used to shoot and process especially the incredible indoor shots! Great job!

  6. Insane! I’ve been really wondering when I would see someone actually do this! I did the same thing this weekend with only the detail shots at a friend’s wedding!

  7. KrisD Mauga says:

    This is PROOF that it’s the person behind the lens that captures an amazing image and not the equipment. Not just any uncle Bob can pick up and capture moments like this- True Talent vs. DSLR- Luv ya Kenny! Cheers!K

  8. kennykim says:

    Hello Nanette – sure thing. I used Camera+ and ProHDR for my apps. Normally I use Snapseed them to tweak my photos – but because there were so many photos to go through, I used Totally Rad Lab & Kevin Kubota actions for the process.

  9. Irene says:

    anyone could be a photographer but being a true photographer means knowing how to pose their models, capturing a specific frame, and differentiating between what is significant to be included in the photograph. I’ve seen many photos but very few photographers can imitate your work, Kenny. there is something very intriguing about your style that captures my interest. congrats on your first iPhone wedding – the pictures are amazing! 🙂

  10. Sarah Brown says:

    I’ll agree with everyone that you have a beautiful eye and that you’re a great photographer. No argument there. But part of what brides and grooms pay for is also the high-end equipment so their images can be reproduced WELL. I can’t imagine that these shots would translate well as a 20×24″ canvas wrap. I could be wrong, but I’d be really interested in seeing these in an album or large format print …

  11. kennykim says:

    Sarah thanks for your comment. I never said that they should replace the main photographers – I actually suggested that people hire the main photographer for the same reason you’re talking about. I think it’s a nice addition to have right now (i.e. photobooth) but it can never take away the experience of having a real main photographer. But we’re not far from people being able to print as big as 20×24. iPhone 4s claims to be able to do it at 8×10 w/o any problem right now.

  12. kennykim says:

    Thank you Irene! I’m so honored that you chose me to be your wedding photographer! I can’t wait for your wedding day!

  13. …and you did better than most Pro Protographers 😉 It’s not always the equipment, it’s the artistic “eye.” 😉

  14. Scott says:

    Great eye….thanks for sharing! Based on Kathrine’s photo of you, it looks like you had an ideal day with lots of light outdoors, but no harsh shadows. I’m interested in how you used your reflector. Indoor/outdoor? Did you have an assistant to hold/direct the reflection? Same with the fill light. Etc.
    I do more videography with my 4S so I built a custom ‘steadycam’ type device and mount my 9-LED fill to my iPhone mount and it seems to work well. Just looking to learn from your experience. I’m surprised you don’t use one of the aux lens like an Olloclip. I’ve had good experiences with it.
    Thanks for the tip on ProHDR, I’ll check it out.

  15. kennykim says:

    Hi Scott – I used the reflector mainly indoors – to use as fill light for details mainly. I did this all alone w/o an assistant because I wanted to be unobtrusive and just document the day w/ minimal interaction. I guess other gadgets like Olioclip would have been helpful. But now, I wanted to just basic as possible. Perhaps in the future I will add those things. Thanks!

  16. Leeann Marie says:

    Fun! I imagine it probably helped that the venue had HUGE windows! 🙂 Were they all, also, edited on the iPhone? What about depth of field? Favorite apps used?

  17. kennykim says:

    Hi Leeann – thanks! I was originally going to edit them on my iPhone like I typically do but since there were so many photos taken, I decided to make the workflow faster by editing them on my laptop. I used Camera+ mostly and some ProHDR and also Panoramic App.

  18. Katie says:

    As a florist I rely heavily on my iphone and I think you captured some amazing images! Well done. I loved this post.

  19. jenn says:

    i love the photos! i’ve been using my iphone 4s much more often to take photos now and i was wondering if you use apps to edit all your photos?

  20. kennykim says:

    Hi Jenn. Thanks for your comment. I normally edit all my photos on camera+ or snapseed. But for this project I did them on my Mac.

  21. Awesome! As a professional wedding photographer with all of the fun canon gear, I guess this makes it comfortable to admit that I only use my iphone for personal photos! Thanks for sharing!

  22. PixelHappy says:

    I think some of the pros are just jealous. Because this person was able to capture some quality candid shots that most of them never get, because they already left the wedding to go cash the check. This photographer did a good job, capturing the moments of the event and telling a story. No matter how you slice it… that is photography.

  23. Robert norman says:

    This entire concept baffles me. Are you doing it because it’s a novelty, because you think it’s somehow easier, because you think brides will actually WANT iPhone wedding photos or because you think your getting superior images? I’d love to hear the deeper thought process for the long run behind pursuing this idea.

  24. kennykim says:

    Hi Robert. thanks for the comment. I did it for several reasons. 1) I wanted to see if it was possible to photograph a wedding using the iPhone. 2) I knew the quality of the images were not going to be superior than the DSLR but I wanted to see how far I can push this technology w/ the limitation that I had and see what kind of result I could get out of it (I just placed an order for a flush mount album book using these images – 8×8 size) 3) Although it is not going to certainly replace the demand for main wedding photography, however I do see this as something that brides will want on the side as an additional service/product from their wedding day experience. Mobile devices have become a part of everyone’s life today and why not utilize what we have to see what we can do with it? It was an experiment to see what can be done with the result being better than what I had expected. It has long ways to go before it can be a threat to anyone in this industry but you just never know. Everyone was baffled when they first heard that you don’t need a wire to make a phone call or connect to the internet but look at where we are now. 🙂 We will see what happens from here. Thanks again.

  25. Will says:

    Hi Kenny

    I’m not carried away with it.

    It’s a great idea and what better way to test a camera phone than this? However, I think most of them look like they were taken with a camera phone. The point is more about what can be achieved with such a camera along with your skill, good editing and applying a wealth of knowledge around the fundamentals of photography.

    I do however accept wholly, is this is the future. The technology is closer than ever.

    Great, thought provoking article Sir

  26. johann says:

    I don’t think the DSLR has any worries. No personal offense intended.

  27. VERY impressed by therse photos.. hard to believe they were with the iphone!

  28. May says:

    High quality snapshots I would say.

  29. Pamela Reed says:

    I have to say I am so friggin’ envious!! I just finished a rant about pro level gear (lenses and bodies) driving me crazy in their poor performance. I shoot all my art images with my iphone 4. People are floored when they see them…and yes I do make them larger with software. I have been saying for the last year I would give anything to photograph a daytime wedding with my phone. You did it and a good job. Hats off!!

  30. Jason says:

    The compositions are fine, which goes to the ability of the shooter. But the quality is sh@t and probably mostly unusable for any decent sized print. If you only plan to view and remember your wedding on pinterest than an iphone wedding might be passable… Motion blur, grain, complete lack of DR makes these photos awful in my opinion. Obviously im in the minority and your mileage will vary.

  31. Gorgeous photographs, I love them! You did such a great job at capturing the “happy” and making everything look so natural. I feel like I was there.

  32. Jason says:

    Absolutely gorgeous photos, I can’t believe they’ve been taken with an iPhone, well done! Unfortunately, photography was bizarrely banned at the previous two weddings I have attended so hopefully one of these days I’ll get to try this out!

  33. Ryan says:

    Very, very interesting. I think you did a fine job, and I admire your enthusiasm to push this technology to its limits. With advancing technologies, it makes me wonder what the future holds.

    I do have one question – did the hired professional photographer know you were going to do this? What were his/her thoughts?

  34. […] übernommen, und obwohl ich weiss was alles mit dem iPhone möglichist, bin ich begeistert – die Bilder sind der Hammer ! 0 […]

  35. Great shots! You really showed what can be done with the best tool of all – your eye! Thanks for sharing!

  36. You did a great job! I am glad you had a chance to try it out!

  37. kat says:

    This is beautiful because the person holding the iphone knew what to look for and what he was doing… So it is unfair to say that all you need is an Iphone and your set… I want to see the i phone put in the hands of a green box shooter and see what happens…

  38. […] and an artistry. He not only has all three (who else could pull off beautiful images of an entire wedding on an iPhone?), but he also has one of the biggest hearts. We have enjoyed running into him at various […]

  39. Joan Jakubowski says:

    I love the picture of the father of the bride kissing her cheek….. I wish I had this same shot from my own wedding, with my dear dad. You are wonderful!

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