Nothing can beat professional quality photographs. There, I said it. I truly do believe that and not just because I’m a professional photographer. Time is much too fleeting and moments pass ever so quickly. It’s almost a crime not to preserve them in a beautiful, lasting way. That being said, who can afford a pro more than once, or at most, twice a year? I sure couldn’t.
Once upon a time and not so very long ago, I was a mom who simply wanted pretty pictures of my child. I didn’t own a fancy pants DSLR camera, and I imagine that most other moms don’t either. I believe it was Chase Jarvis who said, “The best camera is the one that’s with you,” and for a lot of us that’s a cell phone.
So here are my best tips for getting some great shots using only your iPhone.
1. Move Unnecessary Objects
My #1 tip for any photography is to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Here’s your scenario: Your child(ren) is sitting at the dining room table pounding out some play dough. You want to hold onto that moment with some candid shots. You whip out your handy dandy iPhone and snap away. Now ask yourself, “Is my child really the focus, or am I losing them in the clutter?” This is in no way a judgement. Trust me when I say that my table is a smörgåsbord of junk mail and sticky plates with banana pancake remnants most days. It’s also not about perpetuating the facade of perfection on Facebook. It’s really just about creating frame-worthy images. It’s the difference between making photographs as opposed to only taking snapshots. So spend a few moments sliding the junk out of the frame.
In this shot all you see is a cute little girl in what appears to be a field, right? Wrong. When I pull back you can see that in actuality this image was taken in an ordinary setting with a lot of surrounding distractions. You wouldn’t believe the images I have captured beside porta-potties, gas stations and other less than desirable locales.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Keep it simple. Leaving negative space around your subject honestly tells a much more powerful story.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
When I’m shooting it’s straight-up Crouching Tiger-Hidden Dragon style. I’m on things, behind things, under things. I’ve been chest-deep in rushing water (granted I’m only 5’2″, so that’s probably ankle deep for most people). I’ve laid in goose poop, knelt in mud, precariously dangled off of bridges and performed a number of other death-defying feats. Sat in pricker bushes, waded through face slapping corn fields and, well…you get the idea. Photography is so much about angles and perspective. While I don’t advocate putting yourself in harm’s way (I have great insurance), I do recommend you try changing your perspective by :
1. Getting Low
Don’t be afraid to crouch down to your child’s eye-level. Better yet, lay down on the ground.
2. Getting High
Okay, that sounds terrible. What I mean by this is to find a chair or bench, anything handy and STURDY enough to support you and shoot from above. (The folding chair in the image below collapsed inward and I almost bought the farm, thankfully my second shooter and the Bride caught me.)
3. Shoot Through Objects
Think outside the box. Look for any items you could possible shoot through. Holes in playground equipment, tree branches, frosted or beveled doors, a drinking glass, etc.
4. Utilize Reflective Surfaces
Look for anything reflective and get creative. It doesn’t just have to be the obvious things like mirrors and rain puddles (although these are great too). Try a spoon, a tea kettle, a cd, an eyeball, a bubble. That shiny button at the cross walk, yup, I’ve used it.
5. Don’t Crop Out The Shadows
One of my favorite things to include in my iPhone images is shadows. They add an element of drama to an otherwise ordinary image.
Another all time favorite of mine is silhouettes. Not every image has to be a face smiling directly at the camera. I love to capture just the presence of my child while she is in her own world.
iPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY EDITING APPS
I never just snap a photo and post it. With various editing apps you can make your images look more professional and polished. Here are some of my favorites:
VSCO Cam – Easy to apply filters, adjust exposure and share features.
Mextures – Film Grain, Textures, Grunge, Dusty Vintage Film Scans, and Gradients as well as other artist’s saved formulas.
A lot of times I will use this app in conjunction with other apps. Sometimes I start out in this app just to tweak the actual image size, coloring, etc. Then I pull it into other apps to add effects.
And that about does it. Remember, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture beautiful images of your child(ren), but you might have to wash your clothes a bit more often. Stay safe and happy snapping!