8 Tips For Better Smart Phone Photos Of Your Kids
Far from being a die-hard dSLR girl, I'm a huge advocate of the old saying "the best camera is the one you have with you". Smartphones and mobile phone camera have come a long way in recent years, but despite purchases of actual camera being in decline, smart phone photography is often seen as inferior to fancy equipment. Most of us own a smart phone, and may of us take photographs daily. Despite having a relatively powerful device in our pockets, at our fingertips, poor technique can often result in disappointing images. The fundamental principles of taking photos with a smartphone or with high-end cameras is exactly the same. I'm going to give you some tips to improve your photography so you'll take better smartphone photos of your kids.
Take close-up detail shots
There's something magical about a good close-up shot. My favourite images in the studio are macro images of hands, feet, lips and eyelashes. Most phone camera are equiped with a macro mode. Practise on flowers and fill the frame! Then turn the camera on your baby while they're sleeping. Close-ups of kissy pouts and eyelashes are my absolute favourite. Macro photography is a genre in itself, and most phone cameras, particularly the iPhone are fantastic for detail shots. For little kids, I really love photos of hands, clutching donuts, or toes in the sand. Details you really don't want to forget.
Don't use the digital zoom
With my iPhone, I can "get closer" by pinching my screen to zoom in. DON'T. It's better to zoom with your feet, as photographers call it, or get closer to your subject. If you absolutely can't, then use the tools in the camera software to crop in closer after you've got the shot.
Keep your phone as still as you can
This is especially important if you're in low light. In situations where there isn't a lot of light, the camera slows the shutter speed to allow more light to fall onto the sensor. It's the same key point as using a high-end camera. Phone shake, plus moving toddler equals a very blurry image! Some intentionally blurry images are great, but if you want a clear shot, a good trick is to place your phone on a surface that isn't moving and use the timer, steady yourself by leaning on something, or hug your arms close to your body to brace yourself.
Keep the lenses clean
If your camera's lens is dirty, your photos will be fuzzy. Simples! Keep the front and back cameras nice and clean so you're ready for action!
Look for the light
Lighting is as important in good phone photography as it is in the studio. There are so many lighting techniques, but keeping it simple, look how the light is falling on your subject. If you can possibly move round your subject to get a better quality of light, then you'll get a better shot. If your baby is sitting in her high chair, consider moving the chair closer to the window at a 45 degree angle. Watch the light hit her face. Turn off over head lights in the house. They tend to cause "Panda Eyes" or shadowy eye-sockets. I'm always complaining about the spotlights in my home and how terribly they are for photography! Most kitchens have great light in my experience. If the light source, like a window is behind your subject, then your subject will be in shadow. Consider turning your child towards the light if you can if you're not aiming for a silhouette. If you're outside, pointing your phone towards the sun will make your subject shadow and you might get some lens-flare. You can avoid lens flare by cupping your hand around your camera to block some of the light falling onto the sensor.
Leave the flash off
Smartphone camera have a tiny flash. That flash is so harsh and unflattering because it's coming from an unflattering angle and because it's so tiny! You might even get some red-eye, which happens because the light is going directly into the eye. In my studio, my light source is absolutely massive! (So big I'm wondering if I should downsize LOL). That means my light is soft and flattering. You'll also see me placing my light according to where your baby is. That's so I can get the light hitting baby's face beautifully, with soft shadows. I never point the light directly in from of a baby. It's the same with smartphones. Leave the flash off and move closer to the window. If it's dark and there is no window, look for an alternative light source.
Edit your photos
You don't need professional editing software, but don't use the software's filters. They look unnatural and a bit weird. There are so many apps out there that do the job. Photoshop Express does a great job, and you can even rotate selfies to the right way round (as you see it in the mirror). Another example is Snap Seed. You can adjust the contrast, exposure, saturation and colour balance for the perfect photo. Filters just throw a bog standard, everyone has it too, wash over the top.
When photographing kids, you'll often find me sitting or even lying on the floor. Get down to their level for the most flattering shots. Photographers often talk about the rule of thirds for great composition. I'm a great believer in knowing the rules, then breaking them! Fill the frame, or back up and take in some of the background. I love a good centre composition. The important thing is to take the shot!
There are lots of ways of improving your photography and getting better smartphone pictures of your kids, but I've just picked my favourites and those that I think are the easiest to implement. It's worth playing around with the settings on your phone and investigating apps. Some apps will work better for you than others. Remember, taking the shot is better than having the perfect photo, so get in there and happy clicking!
Thank you for reading my blog post 8 Tips For Better Smartphone Photos Of Your Kids. Once you have all those photos, you'll want to keep them safe! Keep an eye out for another blog post from me about how I almost lost ALL my kids' baby photos.