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Taking Great Photos with your Smartphone

Let’s face it, even though many of you own really nice cameras to take photos of your kids with, you usually capture the majority of the cute memorable moments of your children’s lives with your camera phones. Guess what? So do I, the professional photographer. No, I do not carry my large, heavy DSLR camera and all my lenses that go with it everywhere I go with my kids. That’s just crazy. As if I didn’t have to cart around enough stuff.  My phone is compact and rarely isn’t further than an arms reach of me, making it always readily available. Plus the quality of the cameras on most smartphones is good enough for those snapshots. Plus having the ability to instantly share our pictures on social media for our friends and family is an extra bonus.  But just because we use our phones as our primary camera, doesn’t mean we can’t have great looking photos. Here are just a few tips for snapping some great pics.

iphone

 

Find good light.

When shooting outside in the bright sunlight, it is sometimes hard to avoid those dark shadows and squinting eyes. If possible move your subjects into the shade and face them towards the light. If that is not possible, turn your camera flash on to help brighten some of those dark shadows.

EXAMPLE OF BAD LIGHTING

This is a bad example. The boys are sitting in direct sunlight which is casting dark shadow on their faces and causing them to squint

EXAMPLE OF GOOD LIGHTING

Ahh much better! The boys are now placed in the shade where the light is much more even on their faces. And no squinting :)

Ahh much better! The boys are now placed in the shade where the light is much more even on their faces. And no squinting 🙂

 

Think about how you place your subject within the picture frame.

There is this natural tendency to stick our subject’s head dead center of the frame. Don’t put let your main subject take up a little bit of space in the middle of the picture with a lot of unimportant stuff all around.  Get closer to your subject and fill the frame with them. Think about the background and all that is included in the shot, then adjust to eliminate all that you don’t want shown in the picture.

BAD EXAMPLE OF SUBJECT FRAMING

This is an OK picture. The boys are directly in the center of the frame and there is a lot going on in the background that is very distracting.

This is an OK picture. The boys are directly in the center of the frame and there is a lot going on in the background that is very distracting.

GOOD EXAMPLE OF SUBJECT FRAMING

Here I've changed my angle to remove all the unimportant stuff and to make much more interesting photo. Plus the frame is filled with only what I want to see.

Here I’ve changed my angle to remove all the unimportant stuff and to make much more interesting photo. Plus the frame is filled with only what I want to see.

 

“Cheese” is out. “Stinky Feet” is in.

It’s hard to get those natural smiles from our kids. When you have your kids say “Cheese” you often get that forced cheesy smile that is worse than if your kid didn’t smile at all. Instead have your kid say something that is funny or will make them giggle. My favorite is to tell my kids “Say, ‘Mom has stinky feet.’” You can always try a joke or ask them to pretend laugh. I’ve found with my boys the grosser, the better the smile. Another trick is to ask them to make a silly face. Then I snap the shot of their funny face, and that is usually followed up by a genuine smile which I snap quickly after.

Whatever you do, do not threaten them with a loss of something. Nothing can ruin the moment and a child’s mood by saying “IF YOU DON’T SMILE THEN WE ARE NOT GOING OUT FOR ICE CREAM!” Yeah, like that is going to put your child in a good mood.

BAD SMILE

Cute but that is not Colin's real smile.

Cute but that is not Colin’s real smile.

GOOD SMILE

A much more natural smile.

A much more natural smile.

 

Turn your pictures into artwork with photo enhancement apps.

We all love Instagram for sharing our pictures, but sometimes the filters can be a too much enhancing. My favorite app is called PicTapGo. The filters can be decreased in intensity as well as layered. They have great filters for adding contrast, lightening or darkening photos, or adding cool effects. Once you are done creating your perfect photo you can send it off to your favorite social media sites, including Instagram, or save it on your phone.

BEFORE

This is the before shot of Tommy eating ice cream at his dad's fire station.

This is the before shot of Tommy eating ice cream at his dad’s fire station.

AFTER

This is the same image of Tommy after being edited with the PicTapGo photo editing app.

This is the same image of Tommy after being edited with the PicTapGo photo editing app.

BEFORE

Colin and his friend fishing. Before photo enhancement.

Colin and his friend fishing. Before photo enhancement.

AFTER

Colin and his friend fishing. Photo after being enhanced with PicTapGo photo app.

Colin and his friend fishing. Photo after being enhanced with PicTapGo photo app.

I was recently asked to share some of these tips on a segment for Arizona’s 3TV. Check it out!

Now that you have a few tips to think about when shooting those oh so cute pictures of your kids, share them with us on Instagram! Just put #evmbphototips in your description. I can’t wait to see all your great shots!

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