You might understandably be pining for an iPhone 14, but the iPhone Photography Awards 2022 has just arrived to prove that you really don’t need that supposed 48MP camera to take amazing photos.
The annual competition, which runs independently of Apple but is now in its 15th year, has just announced its impressive list of winners. And it’s by no means dominated by the latest iPhones, with winners going back to 2015’s iPhone 6S Plus.
We did some math and 44% of the winners were chosen on iPhone 11 series or earlier models. That said, the best-represented phone by far is the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which was behind 23% of the competition’s award-winning photos.
The IPPA 2022 awards rules state that photos “must not be altered in any desktop image processing program like Photoshop”, so how is there such a varied range of styles in the categories from “abstract” to “travel”?
That’s because the rules allow you to “use any iOS app”, which means that some of the best photo editing apps and the best camera apps are almost certainly behind some of the photos you can see in our gallery below. That said, many photos are also likely “off camera” and collectively the set shows what’s possible with iPhone cameras, no matter what model you have.
Analysis: Find a subject and learn the basics
In addition to 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 photo: an interesting subject matter and an understanding of photographic fundamentals.
You’ll notice effects like Portrait mode and filters are notably absent in the photos below. Instead, winners show a familiarity with key compositional rules, an eye for good light, and an openness to finding new angles on familiar subjects.
We bet most of the winning entries were filmed using the iPhone’s main camera rather than the telephoto or super wide-angle. The IPPA rules state that “additional iPhone lenses can be used”, so it’s possible that some may have used some of the best iPhone lenses to get that extra range. But overall, a little light editing is all that was likely needed given the interesting subjects.
If you like to sign up 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 iPhone Photography Awards winners (use our navigation bar on the left to jump to your favorite category).