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


Please help support by commenting below and joining the conversation on our forum here.


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



Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of

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Previous comments

No question,good model, very good lighting, very good Photoshop afterwork, 3 megapixelcamera, displayed on small screens, very good results. As some others commented it would be intresting to see results without that flashy lighting equipment. Natural sun , natural cloudy sky, natural inside electrical lighting, how about that?
An interesting observation was the natural behavior of the model and the natural smiling, that's also a good message of that video.
People who will buy the next iPhone with an improved camera should observe this video and apple should use it in their Advertising since it has a very important message.

I think its very inspiring, ignore those knocking what you did. Obviously a professional photographer wouldnt use an iphone to do a session, but I think your point behind this is to encourage other photographers they dont need all the latest and greatest to be successful!

So thank you! Very cool video :)

Phones as professional cameras makes me want to punch a just like like using auto instead of manual... meaning the camera has more control over the image then you do, making it less your own. Buuuut what everrrrr people of today D: loose your creative in camera control for mobility...

i betcha can't take a decent picture with the nokia xpress :(

Very inspiring! Makes me want to buy an iphone but i probably wont.

That is awesome. Inspiring! I just bookmarked it.

Amazing! The photos look awesome. I have an iphone and I love photography This truly makes me want to just try some shoots on my own. I also appreciate all the lighting direction. That was extremely helpful, and informative. Great Job!!

this is very inspiring and helpful to all aspiring amateur photogs. thanks to your team.

awesome work! love the outcomes. Good to see that you dont need an expensive camera to take professional shots ;)

Keep up the good work!

Whoohoo! Finally someone proves what I've been saying for years! I've always said it doesn't matter what camera a photographer shoots with...if they don't have that "eye" they've got nothing! That was a phenomal shoot! Taught me so many things!

First let me say that I love you Fstoppers I really do, the work you guys do is truly amazing but face it you're still just resource photographers... Now you could prove everyone who thinks this way wrong, all you have to do is take away the 10,000 square foot studio, the professional model, the professional retoucher, the full team (hair, makeup, wardrobe, plus helpers) and the $50,000 light setup and then get shots that good with a Iphone...Oh wait!!!! without those resources you can't.

chingonas! it´s hard to believe that those pictures came out from an iphone. I have the oldest one the 3G. I´m totally doing some shoots in my next assignment. and let´s see how it turns down.

congrats on your blog, really amazing stuff

hey you photos are great.i also take iphone pics there not as professional but i know i have potential to take great pictures check out my pics on facebook. im only 17 but i love to take pics mostly exspceialy when i look hot so give me a call or chec out my pics on facebook i really wanna take some professional pics sometime.

Awesome stuff here, I really love the lighting and quality of this session!

As a beginner with pics, this give me such hope to work with what I have - a Fuji Digital Camera. But I want to get a Ipad now. Your photos are some of the best I've seen. Photo shooting is a great tool for my artwork that I do in oils. Amazing what you've done, Lee.

Ha ha ha, the inferior quality of the Iphone is masked by the low resolution online. Unfortunately your lack of talent is not masked! You can buy an iphone app that will make your images look like old polaroids, perhaps that will lend you some 'unique' artistic merit?

Amazing, thrilling.... made me feel better today. Thanks. use too many DOUBLE NEGATIVES! No pun inteneded. The pics are great.

Let me just say she's stunning. Makes one forget about the actual purpose of the shoot (almost). I'd agree that one theoretically doesn't need a top of the line camera to compose and shoot as this video shows - i.e. it's not about the camera per se. Then again, the actual picture taking is only one element while lighting and post production are the other two. Digital photography has really been about lowering the barrier to entry and in balance, going for cheaper lighting and perhaps just doing the photoshop work in-house might have driven the whole point home.

Overall though, amazing effort and a clear example of what's really important -i.e. not the actual camera itself.

The 7th picture looks amazing. Its seemed to be very detailed and high quality and i think i would like to start taking some nice pictures like this as well!

Being an iphone user and amateur photographer, I found this video inspirational. It really is all about just taking a good picture and not always the equipment you have. As all famous artists have said it's not the brush or pencil it's the hand moving it that makes a great image.

well there is proof you can take great shots with any camera, if you have heaps of money for a pro studio

i would submit my pics but they are all car pics and night shoots

I love this video. Well done! Very inspirational and proofs that the camera is not the only thing photographers should matter about. Something which most photographers here in Germany seem to do.

This shoot is actually showing that dozens of thousands of dollars we spent on toys is waste of money for 90% of studio photography. Yes, weddings and nature need megapixels and yes, sometimes we need to step back for longer lens, but 90% of the time 3 or 5 or whatever megapixels with good light is all you need.

Though, I suspect you were extra careful with make-up

woow these are absolutely amazing. It is soft but in a way that looks like it was done intentionally. I signed up on vimeo just to like this video. Great Job!

An new iPhone will be more expensive than my Olympus E-620 with 14-42 kit, LOL~

Well you made the "Strobist" blog, and that's just super cool! Did your server blow up from that?? ha! Well done!

Hi, I just saw your video in and believe exactly in what you try to prove: that great pictures come from good photographers and not from expensive equipment. But I was surprised by two things:
1. You first said Olympus is "the worst camera" and gave up shooting with one of them because "who shoots with Olympus?". Is that so? Is Olympus considered the worst camera?? Because I shoot with an Olympus and didn't know it is rated as the worst. I would like to know more about it. It shocked me hahahaa...
2. I guess your experiment would have been more valid if you didn't use that sophisticated lightening equipment. Since you mentioned like twice that you can't say "you don't have great images because you don't have expensive equipment" I thought you would shoot with the IPhone in normal light conditions. But your equipment for lightening was way sophisticated and expensive.

Regards from Argentina.

its all in the lighten

I loved your video!! However I still think about the camera... it's the iphone's one really the worst ever? Maybe... because I have a Nokia phone and sometimes I get cool amazing pictures on normal light conditions (just a bit grainy tho...)
I don't care about the fancy lights, I use a flurorescent light bulb on a desk lamp if I need something extra because I rather take pictures near a window, I have used aluminum foil as well, and I also use the flash on sunny days to take the dark patches away.
I use a Panasonic digital camera DMC-LZ6 (that is grainy too... grainy pics are my enemy...) and your video inspired me, I won't be afraid to take "model photoshoots" anymore, my camera is better than the iphone (I suppose) and my knowledge of Photoshop is avobe average.
Thanks for your effort, it is very appreciated!!
P.S. The thing about the expensive big camera is that to the eyes of the amateur it looks professional, and so do you...
P.P.S Greetings from Ecuador!

I am agree completely and partially with that. It's not about the camera, however it is extremely important the stuff you use for the shoot and most important is availability of a professional model. I think most complaints are about not having the right light sources and professional model. For some of poeple it is expensive to purchase these lighting equipments and hire a professional model either.
Of course it is possible to hire a model through certain websites. But not all of them are professional as this model.

Therefore, it is not the camera alone, it's about various factors(having right lighting sources and prof model, being able to work whit Photoshop etc.), that together make for a great photoshoot.


I really appreciate what you want to show here but there is one little mistake in what you did.
You do not only want to show that you can take great photos without a great camera but you also tell it some "lowbudget" photoshoot...
but where is an iphone lowbudget? It is more expensive than some used Nikon D80 in a very good condition ...

hey. greetings from indonesia. i'm ronnie. an amateur photographer. love your shots!
i use iphone 3gs too.and iphone's camera are great (not the worst ever...hehe). but i think it will be great if you do it without such expensive lighting etc. and less photoshop. maybe an outdoor session?
cant wait to see you works..thanks!

Great demonstration. I also agree to the fact that it's mostly about the photographer and not the camera.

However, studio photography is one of the most forgiving types of photography since you can essentially modify the lighting as you see fit. I do a lot of wilderness shooting in bizarre and dusk-ish light myself (with... in fact... an olympus SLR - which is great). Those shots would NOT turn out good with an iPhone.

I can't believe how many people seem to completely miss the point here. The reason why the shoot is so good is because you are such a good photographer. You know your stuff. I read once that a camera is just a box that lets light in. It is the the photographer, not the equipment.

You could hand a bad photographer the best equipment in the world and not get a good shot. You can hand a great photographer a pinhole camera and I bet they would come up with something great.

Knowing post processing is part of being a great photographer. Even when we just shot film, there were still manipulations done in the darkroom. Dodging and burning, cropping, etc. Photoshop is just our darkroom. It makes photography more accessible to people, it does not make great photographers.

Great stuff guys I really enjoyed to watch this move thanks for this blog and sharing this wit us

Questions; PP- how you been done this?
Can you make some video tutorial like step by step ?

Thanks 4 all

Flickr only has 1024x768 samples of each photo. Any chance you can post the originals (full resolution)?

So if iPhone camera is so great, I suppose you sold your other cameras?

A bit funny but I don't find any merit in doing the obvious.

This feels a lot like a gimmick shoot rather than an illustration of how it's not the camera that makes the photograph. Indeed, it's high end retouching, a boatload in modifiers, a makeup artist, a $100 an hour model and a $600 phone.

I'd suggest doing the shoot over, shooting with a pro DSLR, the iPhone, and maybe a point and shoot, or something equivalent to the price of the iPhone. Use modifiers that are the limit of what the camera can control. Then do a true comparison. "Here's the crappy light we got out of the shop lights, vs the strobes." Talk about how much of a pain it was to use an iPhone vs a real camera. "We couldn't really have her move because the shutter speed on the iPhone was so slow." Also break down the costs. "We saved on lights but the amount of touch up required cost us more. Our touch up artist liked the files straight out of DSLR a lot better than the iPhone snaps and the makeup artist found working with hot flood lights a lot more frustrating than with strobes." Lay out how much it would cost to hire a model of this caliber, purchase the modifiers, how much more time/cost was required on the part of the makeup artist and retoucher. How much time was lost in setting things up the way you did vs. the "pro" way of doing it. Then draw that out over a series of shoots and show the real savings (if there are any) of shooting with an iPhone.

As it stands, this is a very misleading post with a lot of sugar coating. I also wonder about the potential for a negative impact on photography. I can just hear it now, "Your photographer wants how much? That's ridiculous, this guy did a professional fashion shoot with an iPhone, that's all you really need." But I'm sure it has brought in a lot of traffic to the site.

That was really fun. The photos came out amazing and the whole process was great to watch.

Hi Lee,

really a great shooting and nice photos!
We wrote a german review within

Yours sincerelly

Maybe you could change the post name title The iPhone Fashion Shoot By Lee Morris » f stoppers to something more generic for your blog post you make. I enjoyed the post yet.

Well As I've Seen The Video
Its Not Just Using Dslr Can Capture The Good Quality Picture..

And Its Was Owesome, Will Try Its Also By My Iphone

Thank You For The Tips

I love this blog! Great segment!

I definitely have very much to learn yet. :-)

This shoot is a good example why I spent more on lights than my camera. Forget having a F/2.8 lens when you're shooting at f/13+. All my best images were taken with my studio lights. All current camera phones, p/s cameras can take excellent images given enough light (some low light situations look cool too sometimes). I remember having another pro shooter try talking me down because of my camera and lens, shooting in a lounge and how to properly light using my 580EX II. The guy had terrible composition and the light looked horrible (he tried bouncing the light off black surfaces, idiot). Sometimes it take a moment to look at the light you have, the surroundings you are in and the person in the shot and put all the pieces together and decide on the spot (when in a hurry), how one will take an image. As pointed out in the comments, the camera is the box that lets in the light, and that box come in many shapes and sizes. The images likely will not appear on billboards, but who knows maybe it will. I'm seeing more and more images in magazines and on billboards, that look like they were taken with an iPhone. Maybe the industry is hurting so bad that even the commercial photographers are just using their p/s and camera phones to do shoots like this shoot. A blurry grainy image is often manipulated to look as such, but you never really know until you see the original image. To add to my rant, most images online are reduced in quality and size to such an extent that one can hardly see a difference between an image taken with a DSLR and p/s (other than what is accomplished by certain lenses). For people that praised the image before seeing the video, I praise them for their honesty. Too often people are looked down upon based on their lower budget equipment when the images they capture are amazing, otherwise companies would get their own gear and hire a monkey to press the button for each of their shoots as creativity wouldn't matter in such a world.

i come back to this clip for that single line!

Hi i was watching at this photos and they are good but i had 1 problem. this photos aren't sharp.
Seriously i look at nokia n8 photos and it is like 10 times more sharp. So what's with that?

Great stuff, Lee!

to >gr3g<

Nokia N8 has 12mp and iPhone 3gs has only 3mp
its like comparing Canon 30D to Hasselblad H4d-40
Extensive post processing and great control of
light yield awesome images.

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