You might understandably be pining for an iPhone 14, but the iPhone Photography Awards 2022 has just landed to proved you don’t really need that rumored 48MP camera to take incredible snaps.
The annual competition, which runs independently from Apple but is now in its 15th year, has just announced its impressive winner’s list. And it’s by no means dominated by the latest iPhones, with the winners stretching all the way back to the iPhone 6S Plus from 2015.
We’ve done some tallying up and 44% of the winners were actually taken on models from the iPhone 11 series or earlier. That said, the most well-represented phone by far is the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which was behind 23% of the competition’s award-winning shots.
The rules of the IPPA 2022 awards state that photos “should not be altered in any desktop image processing program such as Photoshop”, so how is there such a varied range of styles across the categories, from “abstract” to “travel”?
That’s because the rules do allow you to “use any iOS apps”, which means some of the best photo editing apps and the best camera apps are almost certainly behind some of the shots you can see in our gallery below. That said, many photos are also likely straight “out of camera” and, collectively, the set shows what’s possible with iPhone cameras, whichever model you have.
Analysis: Find a subject and nail the basics
Other than underlining that you don’t need the latest iPhone to take great photos, the lesson from this year’s iPhone Photography Awards is that you only need two things for a great snap: an interesting subject and an understanding of the photographic basics.
You’ll notice that effects like Portrait mode and filters are notably absent from the photos below. Instead, the winners show a familiarity with the main rules of composition, an eye for good light, and an openness to finding new angles on familiar subjects.
We’d wager that most winning entries were shot using the iPhone’s main camera, rather than the telephoto or super-wide. The IPPA’s rules do state that “iPhone add-on lenses can be used”, so it’s possible that some may have used some of the best iPhone lenses for some extra reach. But in the main, a little light editing is all that’s likely been required, given the arresting subjects.
If you fancy making an entry for next year’s competition, check out our guides on how to take professional portrait photos with your iPhone and how to take epic landscape photos with your iPhone. For now, though, here’s a gallery of this year’s winners of the iPhone Photography Awards (use our navigation bar on the left to jump to your favorite category).