Sourdough, TikTok, Zoom calls, oh my!

It is a season of “unprecedented times” and if you are anything like me, hopefully your anxiety is at a lower rate and you are filling the corners of your day with trying new things: Possibly cooking and baking new things, perfecting a TikTok dance routine or maybe even running more. If not, that’s okay, too! There have been more days than not that I have felt the shame of Netflix asking if I was still watching. YES, I AM STILL WATCHING. IT’S THE WEEKEND. LET ME LIVE, NETFLIX.

The best camera is the one that
you have with you.

- Chase Jarvis

A local Seattle photographer, Chase Jarvis, is known for his quote, “The best camera is the one that you have with you.” I have been a professional photographer for nearly 14 years and am often asked what camera is best, which is such a big question! And I have questions in return: How often will you use the camera? Are you technical or willing to learn? How much would you like to edit and sit at the computer?

Today I want to chat about iPhone photography (iPhone-ography)! Most people may not have a pro-level camera but do have their smartphones with them all the time. Our access to constant connection can be both a blessing and a curse. One aspect that I love about “iPhone-ography” is that the technical barriers have been simplified so the creative eye can just practice without having to connect the dots of technology and execution.

Last week I tried something really new with FaceTime photo sessions with ten of our Nest employees, their kiddos and other family members, and their fur babies. The theme was “Working from Home” and our Nesters wore their favorite cozy-at-home looks and we made it happen. And now, you’re gonna learn how to do it. The following may sound confusing at first, but once you get on the call with a friend, it is a lot of fun!

First things first:

  • An iPhone 6 or higher running iOS 11 or later. (iPad also works, but no PCs or Android phones since we’re using FaceTime.)
  • Make sure that your phone is updated, that you are logged into your Apple ID on both phones and/or your FaceTime is installed on a laptop already (for the photographer). I took these photos from my laptop, making sure that I had my FaceTime already installed and my Photos folder ready to go. If you want to keep it simple, both the subject and the photographer can just use their iPhones for taking photos, up to you!
  • Make sure that you have checkmarked "Enable Live Photos" under your FaceTime settings. If you know your wifi connection is not strong, make sure you are connected to your LTE.
  • Make sure your camera phone lens is wiped clean before getting started. (Do this for all photos forever, please!)
  • Extra people to hold your phone or ladders or bookshelves to prop your phone or iPad on are great! Have some books ready or something steady to lean your camera on, too.
  • Keep a small cup handy that fits your phone that doesn't interfere with the camera view and is a great little portable stand.

Making it happen:

  • Set up a time when you and your friend are not stressed. If you are working from home right now, the end of the day or weekend would be great for freedom from distractions.
  • You will call each other on FaceTime, easy peasy.
  • The person having their photo taken will turn the phone towards themselves like they are taking a selfie.
  • The photographer will then communicate with the subject where they would like them to be, setting up the shot. This is the hardest part! A tripod, an extra friend or a little cup to set their phone in and on a bookshelf are all handy options. This is when you will have to use all your descriptive words to get the photo you want!
  • The execution is not the screenshot! When you look at your screen, you will see the white circle “button” and that is your camera shutter. Make sure you check your photos folder in the beginning of your shoot to make sure they’re appearing there.


  • Always look for the best light first! When shooting inside, window-facing spaces or rooms with a lot of light are great for this. When I’m shooting outside, I always look to see where the sun is first. Look for uncluttered backgrounds and locations where my subjects will feel comfortable. Front porches or overhangs always have a nice filtered light, as the edges of tree branches. Overcast weather (lots of this in Seattle!) is nice for a soft light, but if you are in a sunny city, sunrise and sunset times are also nice and soft. Midday sun is the least flattering and can create a lot of shadows on the face. If I know it’s going to be bright out, I like to shoot as far away from this time as possible.
  • Get high, get low, get far, get close! Variety is key for visual interest and can tell a complete story.
  • Square and even up your frame. Look at the entire picture when you’re shooting. Is the horizon straight? Is there a telephone pole coming out of their head? Is the camera squared up (evenly horizontal) to that wall? All of these little details can help an iPhoto sing!
  • Take lots of photos! It takes taking a lot of bad photos to get to a good one. Most of the time my “in between” the shot photos are my favorite.

The After:

  • I take a ton of photos (and a lot of bad photos!) and I have found one of the easiest ways to organize my iPhone photos is to “favorite” the top picks. You can simply tap the heart beneath each photo you would like to keep and only edit those photos later.
  • There are a lot of filters on Instagram, but my preference is to use photo editing apps. Some of my favorites are Snapseed, VSCO, and Adobe Lightroom (if you want to get more complex.)

The Why:

I am a sentimental family historian and this is why I became a photographer. I could sit and look at photos FOR HOURS. I am fascinated by people’s stories and what makes them tick. Photos of the people I love are my most treasured possessions and I know that is the same for a lot of people.

We are all now living in this really different climate, physically distant from each other and some of the people we care the most about. I keep thinking about the “looking back” to this time. What would Future Me want to remember? And what about you? Maybe a friend could take a photo of you and your family in your messy living room and you can remember the time you got to have together, not commuting to and from soccer games or navigating school pick ups. Or maybe you need a new Bumble profile photo (this is legit). Perhaps you want a photo with your pet or some photos of JUST YOU, JUST BECAUSE.

Because Future You wants to remember what Current You was doing right now. What’s your story? How do you want to remember this time? Or hey, maybe it is just a fun new artistic project you can try. Reach out to a friend and make it happen! I will say, I absolutely loved reconnecting with my coworkers, meeting their families and fur babies, and getting a window into their daily lives. I know that I want to remember this as a time of reconnecting. I hope you try this and use it as a little tool to reconnect with a friend or family member. Tag us and show us your photos if you try this at home. We can’t wait to see what you create.

Jenny Wohrle
Tagged: social


Will be trying this with a model friend later this week. She’s in Texas I am in Pennsylvsnia

— Michael Dean

I just wanna really nice photo shoot

— Aiyana Baldwin

Thanks for the ideas! :)

— Rach K.

This is so cool – thanks for sharing the steps!

— Courtney