The iPhone Fashion Shoot By Lee Morris

The iPhone Fashion Shoot By Lee Morris

A few weeks ago I did a full fashion photo shoot with my iPhone 3gs. I posted a few of the images and asked people to critique them (never exposing that they were shot on my cell phone). I couldn't help but laugh when a few of our readers claimed that these were "the best images I had ever taken." Nobody ever claimed that they were too grainy, too soft, or lacked detail.

So before I say anything else let me start by saying; I created this video to simply show that you should not be limited by your camera. Obviously there was a lot that went into this shoot including a professional model, hair and makeup, a studio, lighting, and a retoucher. We may create another video in the future where we shoot with only natural light but this video is simply about the camera. There are so many photographers who are obsessed with noise, sharpness, color, dynamic range, megapixels, chromatic aberration, moire, distortion, etc. So many photographers get wrapped up in the technical side that they forget how to take compelling images. This video is for them.

So a few months ago I called Olivia Price; "Hey Olivia, would you be willing to let me do a full photoshoot with you but I'm only going to use my iPhone camera." I had worked with Olivia before, and I must have gained her trust because even though she was very busy she agreed to model for me. Luckily, we set up the shoot right before she was scheduled to move to LA to continue her acting career.

Next I called the local high end hair salon in town, Stella Nova. Madison LeCroy and Tiffany Starnes agreed to donate their time and talent to be a part of this shoot.

I then contacted Pratik Naik of Soltice Retouch. Pratiks portfolio is mind blowing and I was thrilled when he agreed to do the skin retouching for the video.

Travis Harris, a photographer from Miami was in town for the week and he agreed to help Patrick Hall film the whole day.

I now had a full team of extremely talented people and I had yet to even test the phone's camera capability in the studio. At this point I was scared that I may be in over my head. What if the iPhone wasn't capable of creating good quality images? A few days before the shoot I called Patrick Hall over to my house to help me test out the camera. I set up a standard square beauty lighting scheme and got Patrick to stand in. I took this shot:




We were both shocked by the quality of the image. Once we uploaded the picture to the web, you couldn't even tell it wasn't shot on a DSLR. I now had the confidence I needed for the upcoming shoot.

The day of the shoot went very well. I tried to be as informative as possible in the video so I won't go into great detail here about how the images were shot. After the shoot I sent the files over to Pratik for initial retouching. Once I got the files back I gave each of the images a "look" using different photoshop techniques and filters. In the video you can see the original image, Pratik's retouching, and then my final editing.

People may claim that the original images don't look that great but I was shooting with the intent of using Photoshop afterwards. If the backdrop paper didn't fill the frame I knew I could easily fix it afterwards. With today's market being what it is I see Photoshop as a necessary tool for every image I make. I am in the business of making money and my clients do not care if I got it perfect in the camera or made it perfect in post, they simply want a perfect image. It's the same process with music. A band could record and entire album in 1 take, but what successful artist does that? Today, everyone records track by track one at a time and use software to combine them all together into a perfect mix.

A quality camera and lens is a fantastic tool to begin with but even the most expensive camera in the world is capable of taking bad pictures. When your clients view your work they aren't thinking, "Wow I don't see any chromatic aberration in this image!" They are simply thinking, "Wow, I can't put my finger on it, but this looks great!" Olivia has one of these images as her profile picture, and it already has a ton of comments like: "G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS", "LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", you are so beautiful!!"... These are your clients; these are the people that will pay you to take an image and they are not pixel peepers. And many of you, who are photographers, even still said these are some of the best pictures I have ever taken. I can't say that I agree with that but I will say they are pretty damn good for a cell phone.

You can view all of the edited images below both as high res raw and edited images here.


iPhone Fashion 1 edited
iPhone Fashion 2 edited
iPhone Fashion 3 edited
iPhone Fashion 4 edited
iPhone Fashion 5 edited
iPhone Fashion 7 edited
iPhone Fashion 8 edited
iPhone Fashion 6 edited
iPhone Fashion 9 Raw
iPhone Fashion 10 edited
iPhone Fashion 11 edited


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UPDATE: A lot of people have asked us what sort of budget equipment we could have used to create these photos. Here is a list of a few items that would make this possible on a budget:


Interfit Photographic 36" Octobox: Large enough for soft light; good on the wallet.

Pro Studio Solutions EZ Pro Strip Box softbox 12"x56" soft box with Speedring Great little strip box; this one is for Alien Bees but can be used with constant lights

Cowboystudio 24" x 36" softbox soft box for Alienbees Alien beesLarger softbox for beauty style lighting. Again, Alien Bee version

Cooper/Regent TQS1000 Twin Work Light 1000-Watt and StandThese would work so much better than our studio strobes. Just be careful with 1000 watts in a 1000 watt softbox, don't let it run too long.

For more photography by Patrick Hall and Lee Morris, check out and



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Previous comments
Justabeginner photographer's picture

But they can sound better with a super expensive guitar and amp. Period.

You guys have inspired me!
great job

Anybody who can afford the arsenal of lights you used should be able to afford a decent DSLR and lens in the first place. Kinda defeats the whole point. I mean, lighting counts as camera/shooting equipment right?

Justabeginner photographer's picture

Yea thats the fstoppers hypocrisy. They always do those tests with super expensive studio equipment, heavy post processing and of course perfect looking subjects. A good camera will always improve someone's photography especially in natural light which is what most beginners like me start with.

I am still trying to recover from that model. She is absolutely stunning, any way you look at her. Great video, had fun watching it!

Wow. This was really incredible to watch. I guess I can no longer blame my lenses for bad pictures. Lighting it is!

Great shoot, but the video is very misleading. You're not making it more accessible to the amateur by using an iphone camera instead of a DSLR when you've still got $2-3k of lighting equipment involved.

Anyone who's done any reading about the science of photography knows that light is the most important part, not the sensor. You can play with the light to 'fool' a low quality or bad sensor.

Do this again with a $100 IKEA gift card and an iphone, nothing more. Then I'll be impressed.

What's wrong with Olympus? You obviously haven't shot with an Olympus SLR, have you?

That was great!

this is stupid kind of cause you are still shooting with a thousand dollars worth of lighting kit. Everyone knows light makes pictures not the camera. Do it with some dollar store flash lights and iphone then you will impress me

Patrick Hall's picture

Joe and Andrew, the idea isn't to impress you. We have a <a href="" rel="nofollow">camera contest</a> going on right now where we are giving away a D300s or 7D after August 1st. Step up to the plate (with or without a IKEA giftcard) and win this contest! What we did could have been done with a $300 budget minus the cost of the iphone. We just used what we already had.

I loved this! man I dunno how i stumbled onto this but I have seen some amazing images with a iphone, but I loved what you did in bringing it to the studio! now my only critique would be that it was in a controlled studio environment.. i'm sure it would have looked good outside.. but would it have been as great? studio with great lighting I feel doesn't really need too much editing.. because with great light the images seem to turn out great no matter if you have a olympus (lol) or Canon/Nikon, or even an iphone. anyways... I thought this was such a sick idea I love what you did in this and I love how you were descriptive and told exactly what lights you used... great job!

Larry Sanders's picture

Now thats how you do a BTS video!! A detailed explanation of the equipment, placement of the lights, what kind of lights, what you were trying to accomplish. And then the finished picture!!! EVeryone take notice on how its done and if yall cant beat this, I say they keep the camera! Way to go guys!!

PERFECT!!! I´ve said you dont need expensive equipment to shoot amazing pictures just a simple camera and lots of imagination. I applaud you for this video and for proving this point. I also congratulate you for the website and great videos.

LOL!!!!!! omg i can't believe this lee!!! you put me to SHAME!!

Great video, guys! and I think you hit it right on the spot. I always, always hate it when people complement the camera and not all the effort and hard work by the person behind the camera. I even wrote a blog about it about 2 months ago:

Umm, everyone saying it's the light/model/hair dress/sacrifices to arcane gods that won day - you are totally missing the point (and you are wrong).

First off, it's technique. They could have used bare bulbs from the dollar store, shot through bed sheets or cheese cloth and wound up with substantially the same photos, especially after editing.

Second, and oh the irony, this video was supposed to convince you guys and girls to quit arguing equipment and go out and shoot :)

Peace, Don

Love the post, seriously awesome work and a crazy Ideas, this site is so inspirational and helpful. Was wondering what the four lights were called that were used in the full body shot with the lights the background?

Patrick Hall's picture

Nick, those four lights were Dynalite 2040 lights but only the modeling light was used. We definitely did not need to use pro gear for any of this shoot but we had it and it was easier than running to walmart so we just used them.

Was the behind the scenes shot on the iPhone as well.


Your shots are terrific! Hope you will do it again with an iPhone4. The shots I'm getting are much better than my old 3GS.

Fantastic video guys!! killing it once again--and entertaining!
Listen, everyone that is trying to diminish the value of what they have proven in this video is clearly missing the point. It's simple--Yes you can create very cool, interesting pix if you just got off your @#% and get out and create something. Not only did they come up with the idea...but they shot it, did the behind the scenes and edited by simply just doing it--and, before most excuse makers even got their camera out of their bag. This video is clearly about making it happen with even the cheapest camera, not the all around cheapest way to do a fashion shoot. It's very clear they could have easily done a shoot using all a natural light but used a controlled environment for efficiency to make a point. It's hilarious that they make a video to squelch the naysayers, but the naysayers still find a reason to make an excuse!!

Well thank you Todd :)

I'm Alex from Italy, I saw your video and photo very very nice work!
If you comes in north italy, call me
I want to meet your beautiful model girl, i love her :D
Bye bye

I may come to Rome in a few months actually. Olivia isn't though ;)

My favorite part is definitely the armpit scratch at 1:38. Saaweeeeet.

@ Lee
Ok Lee no problem, so my wife is quite :)
If you comes to Rome you must also to go on waterland (Venice) is a beautiful city, my wife is from Venice ;)
I started works with Photoshop and 3D software for hobby when i was 13 years old, but now is not my principal work (unfortunately) :(

Man you proved your point and that the key in photography is the lighting.

When are you coming in Italy?

We can organize a coffee and a photo chat.

Amazing video, first of all.

Secondly. a lot of people are missing the point of this shoot. I see some comments critiquing the fact that the photographers are using "thousands of dollars worth of lighting kit" and that they're not impressed until this can be done with a $100 dollar IKEA gift card and an iPhone. What does that even mean? What's not impressive about using a camera phone, with a tiny sensor, and getting amazing shots like these? How is that not impressive? How is it not impressive that actual professional photographers are essentially saying "F$%k the camera, I'll do the shoot with this thing in my pocket."? I'll actually give anyone who has a good answer for that question a $100 dollar gift card to IKEA or any other scandinavian furniture store of their choice.

Quit using your camera equipment as an excuse for your bad photos. Just do the work and get better.

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