It’s nearly Christmas! And I bet there are some precious moments you’d like to take photos of this holiday season – kids, family, meals, events. So many fun things going on! Today’s post will help you take capture those memories using the camera most of us have on hand all the time – your mobile phone!
Cameras in phones have become a selling point for big companies like Apple and Samsung – and for good reason. The phones we have in our hands every day are really quite good! I still love my DSLR and the flexibility of being able to take photos in darker light, different settings and of course a good zoom lens can’t be beat! But I do use my iPhone camera a lot – follow me on Instagram to see what I mean 🙂
I’ve played around with a number of apps and phone cameras and here are my 10 tips for getting better pictures of your kids come Christmas morning!
Number 1 – Get an app for editing
I’ve tried lots but I love Instagram to share photos best. Easy, can link to other social media and the basic editing features usually serve me well. If you are looking for more options to make your photos look gorgeous – try Little Moments app. This one is part of Fat Mum Slim’s photo a day competition and lets you take a photo, edit it and then open it straight in Instagram for sharing. You can add text, make it look funky with filters and stickers or just tweak the pic slightly.
Number 2 – Hold that camera still!
Yep, simple but important to avoid blurry photos.
Did you know that when professional photographers click the button they usually hold their breath? You don’t need to go that far but try anchoring yourself against something. So lean on a wall or door frame. Or that’s not possible, hold your elbows in tight to your sides as you push the button. (PS. this is how we get Prep kids to take non-blurry shots – keep those elbows in kids!)
Number 3 – Use a real button
To follow on from holding still to avoid the blurry image problem is to use the volume buttons on your phone to take the photo. It’s easier to click a button and hold still than it is to tap the screen with one hand while holding the phone with the other. Not all phones have this feature but check to see if yours does :0). If it does – make sure you use it! It’s an easy way to improve your photos really quickly.
Number 4 – Think about lighting.
Bigger and better cameras cope well in darker rooms or at night. Your camera phone likely doesn’t and will produce quite ‘grainy’ photos as things get darker. If possible move your subject to a window. Window light rules! Natural, indirect light is best for people too – makes their skin look lovely and glow-y (not a word? oh well…). If you have a porch or deck, position your subject under the roofline for lovely clear photos.
Of course, if it’s night time that’s not an option, in that case look at the artificial lighting in your room – make sure it’s not growing out of your subjects head! If possible, have them lit from the side rather than below or above – unless you are going for a Halloween/ghoulish look!
Photography literally means ‘painting with light’ – look for the light first and then set up your shot.
Number 5 – Get down low and go, go, go…
Bend down. Get to eye level. Hold the camera up high or out to one side. Look for different angles to change up your composition and to make your photos more interesting.
If you are like me and a little ‘vertically-challenged’, I have to hold my camera up high when photographing people taller than me. If I took photos of a 6′ 3″ guy from my eye level he would look very distorted – wider in the middle and with a little head. No-one will thank you for that photo! Aim for shoulder to eye level ideally to make people seem in proportion.
If you are taking a photo of a group, have a look at the tallest and shortest person and shoot the photo from the top third of that range. So not dead centre and not too high. That way you do the best job for everyone!
Number 6 – Look for details
We all put so much effort in to Christmas day with food, gifts, decorations… Take 10 minutes before you sit down to eat and take some photos of what you’ve achieved! Be proud! Count your blessings this Christmas by looking not just as gifts and people but at the little moments around you. The 3 year old checking out the nativity scene or Dad’s socks that have been taken off and dumped in a corner. You’ll appreciate these shots just as much as the traditional family photo – trust me :0)
Number 7 – Plan ahead
Think about charging your phone ahead of time and taking your charger with your if you are (lucky enough to be ) spending the day at some one else’s house.
Plan also for who you want a photo of. I know I like to get a group photo of my step-sons and my brother who lives in England but visits each Christmas. Think about who and where you’d like these kinds of photos.
Number 8 – Take lots of shots of the same thing
As I mentioned earlier, your camera phone isn’t a professional camera and does have it’s limits. It likely won’t capture low light photos brilliantly and it’s usually not fantastic with moving targets (toddlers on scooters, bigger kids on bikes or even pulling the Christmas cracker!).
My suggestion in this digital age is to take lots of photos! You can delete later but recreating a moment is impossible. My iPhone has a ‘burst’ mode. This means you hold down the button and it will take lots (and lots) of shots very quickly. Then you choose the one (or ones) you like best. Great for capturing that expression or moment in time.
Take lots – delete later – keep the ones you love!
Number 9 – Ask permission before sharing your photos
I know we all take photos of our families and friends – and we love sharing them online. Do that! Spread the love! But first, ask if it’s ok to share on Facebook or Instagram. These are your memories first and foremost – they aren’t only for online sharing. If your great-aunt says no, respect that and share other photos. I’ve found most people are happy to have their photo online.
This is also a great chance to model to your kids that they have the right to give permission (or not) for their image to be published online. Ask them – they will likely say yes! But you’ve at least modelled that they get to choose and have the right to say no thanks, I don’t want that online!
Even with little kids – ask them and then ask their parents. It takes only a moment to say ‘hey, this is so cute, can I share it on Facebook?’
If they say no, that’s fine – you still have a photo you love. Better to have them say no upfront, than get an unpleasant after-Christmas phone call asking what you were thinking posting little Johnny’s Christmas day tantrum online!
Number 10 – Get out from behind the camera.
Photography is great. I love it :0) But don’t forget that there’s a real, never-to-be-repeated world going on beyond your lens! If you really must take a million photos – delegate!!! Share photo taking duties with a family member and share around the photos after Christmas!
As a photography lover (and former wedding-photographer) these are my ‘get the great shot on my phone’ tips! Hope they are of use to you!
Do you have any other tips to offer? Share them below – I’d love to learn from you :0)
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