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A Cyclist's Guide to iPhone Photography

Posted by Lauren Hefferon

Lauren Hefferon, Owner/Founder and creative genius behind Ciclismo Classico, has always had a passion and a distinctive eye for color, design, illustration and visuals. Her talent in these areas goes above and beyond the norm and both Ciclismo Classico and Travel Vision Journeys have reaped great benefits from her never-ending talents, passion, creative expression and photography.

Here, Lauren shares with us all the ins and outs of simple iPhone photography for those of us less equipped with the desired (and not yet purchased) fancy camera. Read on to learn about Lauren's fantastic insider tips! 


I have many cameras, but my iPhone is the one that is always by my side! For as long as I can remember, I have carried a camera wherever I ride. For me, pedaling and photography are the perfect pair—one energizes and engages the body, the other tunes in the mind and stirs my creative juices. I have always treasured the unique perspective of the world we have perched on our saddle and soaring and twisting through the landscape. The exhilaration of diving into a Leonardo landscape on my bike is a constant source of inspiration and more often than not, the picture takes me! Taking photos is a way to say, "I love this place, this scene, these people, this special moment, the still life of fresh tomatoes in a basket." Telling a story with photos is an engaging way to pay homage to your special travel experience.


(Photogenic cyclists strike the pose on our Epic Italy 15-Day bike tour from northern to southern Italy)

Over the years I have slung my Nikon across my back and carried every kind of compact camera in my jersey pocket. However, my cycling camera of choice remains my iPhone 7. Why, you ask? Because it’s easy, the quality is high and I believe that it brings photography to its essence of capturing and composing moments of inspiration. As the pros say, the best camera is the one you have and my iPhone is always there ready to capture. 

Here are my Top Ten Tips on how to get and share great shots and a list of my favorite iPhone apps:

1. Be prepared to stop—a lot!  The hardest thing when you are sailing away on your bike is to stop the 'flow' and take a picture. My advice is simple: let the picture take you! If you're riding along and a particular scene or moment grabs you, grab it. Get into the art of composing the shot. Walk around, look for a different angle. As Ansel Adams said,  "A good photograph is knowing where to stand."  Think about it this way, if you take 50 photos and ride 50 miles, aren’t you enhancing your overall cycling experience? 

2. Find someone else on your tour that likes to take photos and hang out with them. Let the hammer heads ride ahead while you and your newfound photo friend discover new angles, compositions, dramatic moments and kodachrome. Camera kinship is a very special thing. 

3. If you come upon a truly unique situation, immerse yourself fully. While riding on our Bike Across Belgium tour, we came upon a sheep herder and his adorable sheep dogs. The situation was so photogenic that I decided to let the group ride on and I began snapping as many shots as I could—of the sheep herder (after asking), the puppies (after petting) and the whole scene. This 30-minute 'photo-op' remains one of my most memorable of the last ten years. The results were pretty good, too.


4. Group and people photos. It’s easy to fall into the trap of the group photo that looks like a class picture. Try capturing your group and its members in all of their joyous cycling glory. If you do a group photo, please keep the sun behind you and avoid high noon or all you'll get are shadows on people’s faces. Also, try to make the group photo in a memorable place: the fountain in a town square, interactions at the market or somewhere with an amazing view. Ask you guide if you can stand on top of the van!  


This area of the Sibillini mountains that we ride through on our Epic Italy bike tour is called Piano Grande. It's difficult to capture its majesticness and the cyclist's experience. But by getting on top of the van, I got it all: the amazing scenery, the happy group after a long climb and the very cool road ahead. A top-of-the-van shot does the trick!

Often I will bike ahead, find a nice background, try to get off the road up high (or down low) and wait to take photos of the group as it passes by in the frame of the background. This keeps the photography challenging, fun and unobtrusive.


5. With your camera in hand, you are officially the group storyteller. Tell the whole story of your incredible tour from the scenes of the airport, the charming vignettes around your hotel, the beautiful landscapes, the morning frost in a vineyard, the bustling morning fish market or the poetry of ancient architecture. Take pictures of the food you eat, the wine you drink, the bike shops you visit, the fashion you see, and the local people in action. I promise, you'll never regret having taken too many pictures.


No cyclist's visit to Florence is complete without a visit to Mario Conti's bike store. Hanging out at Mario's tiny shop offered a kodochrome moment for our Ciclismo cyclists.

6. Create a theme that runs through your travel photos. Each year on our family vacation, we create a 'pose' that we strike when the timing and the views are right. This pose then becomes the signature of the trip. Here in Lofoten Islands of Norway (see below), we invented a pose we called 'The Funk.' I also have a running theme of shadows and taking photos with my toes in the shot. The possible themes are endless and make the experience more personal.



7. Although it's hard to avoid shooting during high noon when traveling, your best shots will be in the morning between 7-11 or the late afternoon between 4-8,  so these are the best times to slow down and capture like crazy.

8. Have fun with the locals, but ask permission. I find one of the best ways to get to know the local people is to take a photo of them. Here on our Panoramic photo tour, these beautiful women smiled wide (see below)! I offered them a tip and a chance to see the photos. Most people enjoy it, especially if it's done respectfully and you take the time to interact and show them your photos. You can even take down their contact info and send them a copy.

locals iphone.jpg


9. Editing photos. The editing tools on the iPhone 7 are so good that I primarly use these tools, but there are many fantastic apps that I've also listed below. I usually edit and post as I go. I'm not a big fan of overediting and prefer to get the shot right as I take it.

10. Sharing photos. There are many ways to share your photos. I like Facebook mainly because it's simple, I create an album of my trips, upload my favorite 20 to 100 photos to the album, write a few paragraphs about the trip, and there you have it: an instant memory book for years to come. The 'likes' you get help you refine your style and presentation for next time.

Also, don’t forget to like and share your best photos on our Ciclismo Classico Facebook pageWe have used many guest photos on our website and annual brochure. You can also enter the quarterly Ciclismo Classico photo contest with your chance to win a nice discount off your next tour with us!

Here are some additional tips about how to take great  iPhone photos from one of my favorite resources, The Iphonography School.


My Favorite iPhone Apps:

1. Hipstamatic: Love this app and its effects

2.  Pro HDR: Great for situations of compromised lighting

3. Camera +

4. Snapseed: Considered one of the best editing apps out there

5. Slow Shutter

6. Photogene

7. Photo Mania

8. Photo Stich: Puts together a photo grid of your favorite photos

9. Word Swag: Adds quotes to your favorite photos

10. Mexture

Happy snapping and feel free to contact me with any of your photography questions! Interested in a photography-focused tour? Consider our Travel Vision Journeys tours in South America.




Written by Lauren Hefferon

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