This post is written by guest writer Emily from Yew Photography.
Have you ever heard the expression, the best camera is the one you’ve got? Well, I can agree with this to a certain extent. As much as I adore my Canon or Nikon DSLR, it is not always in my back pocket, and I don’t want that to prevent me from capturing one of my children’s moments in a beautiful way. The iPhone camera has come a long way in the past few years, and it is quite possible to capture beautiful photos with just your phone. Here you can start taking amazing photos too with my Free 6 Day iPhone Photography Course where I share my top ten tips for taking better photos!
Tip 1) Know what the iPhone is good at
Landscapes: your iPhone has a 28mm lens (which is considered a wide angle lens), wide angle lenses are great for landscape shots!
Environmental portraits: As mentioned above wide angle lenses are fantastic at giving context to your photo. Whether you’re at a farmers market, the beach, or a beautiful forest, capture your child as part of a beautiful scene.
Specific Phones: 7 Plus, 8 Plus, and X all have a 50mm lens as well (Portrait mode activates this), this is great for portraiture.
Tip 2) Know the iPhones Downsides
Low Light: The iPhone has a small light sensor and really doesn’t perform well in low light, or artificial light, so try to find an abundance of natural light and your iPhone photos will be MUCH better.
Autofocus responsiveness: That’s fancy talk for how quick the camera focuses on your child. The iPhone is relatively slow when comparing it to a ‘big camera’. Bottom line is don’t photograph moving subjects with your iPhone, you’ll get a blurry shot.
Avoid the urge: To zoom your camera and take a picture (this is using a digital zoom and will kill your chances of printing this image). Take the picture fully zoomed out and then crop in.
Tip 3) Fill The Frame: A lot of what I see from moms in my workshops is this: We hold the camera in front of us, center our kids in the middle and click the button. This is usually the result. There is way too much unintentional distracting elements in most photos parents take when they’re starting out.
A quick way to elevate an image is to get in close, clooooooser, yup you got it!
Fill the frame with their whole face and body (Negative space and ‘storytelling space’ can have a huge impact which I cover in my Free iPhone Photography course, but for now try to avoid too much empty space or busyness).
Tip 4) Pay Attention to Lighting! Lighting is super important in photography, it can make or break a photo. One fundamental rule of photography is that the larger the light source, the softer the quality of light. Soft light (think a cloudy day, large north facing windows, a large covered porch) is even, flattering, and produces soft shadows. Hard light (The bright sun on a clear day, a flash, a light bulb) is harsh and focused, it creates deep shadows and bright highlights. Seek soft light where possible if shooting people.
Tip 5) Know where the light is and be intentional about it.
Backlighting; The light source is behind your subject, this creates a light and airy feel to your image.
Front lighting: The light source is in front of your subject (behind the camera). If using soft light, is foolproof in getting great shots of people or objects.
Side lighting: The light source is to the left or the right of your subject. This adds depth and dimension to your image.
Tip 6)Get low, get high, just move. When photographing your kids, get down to their level, or be creative and shoot from above. A lot of time you will see me laying on the ground when I’m shooting my kids. That is because I’m capturing the action at their level. This greatly increases the quality and impact of your photos. It also changes the background to something much more pleasing. Instead of carpet and grass, you get horizon, clouds, trees etc. A good rule of thumb for portraits is to be at eye level with your subject.
Tip 7) Composition: There are a lot of composition rules which I cover more in-depth in my course, but the biggest and most impactful is the Rule of Thirds, it goes like this, draw a tic-tac-toe board shape over your scene, with all spaces being equal in size. The Rule of Thirds states that when you place your subject at/near one of the 4 intersections, or along one of the lines, you can get a much better-balanced image. For portraits, the best part of the subject is the eyes, so try and place them near one of the top intersecting points.
Tip 8) Home Lighting: So many of our photos happen inside our house, especially when our babies are young, and especially if we live in freezing cold Edmonton! So walk around your house at different times of the day and write down which rooms have the best light at which times. You may be surprised! This will give you a huge advantage when you know “oh it’s 10 o’clock and the light is amazing in my son’s room right now, let’s play up there…” Sometimes life happens, and we need to capture those moments when we aren’t in the ideal room with the ideal light. I get it. If that is the case, open the curtains/blinds and let as much light in as possible.
Tip 9) De-clutter: I have two toddlers and a baby, clutter is my life. But you can tell when I’ve been shooting inside because then my house is usually somewhat tidy. I joke that I wish my house was as clean as it looks in photos. Big toy bins are my saving grace, grab all the ‘stuff’ and dump it in the bin and close the lid, out of sight out of frame. Heck, you don’t even need to go that far, just throw it out of the frame, behind you in a pile if need be. You want to showcase your subject, not the hairbrush on the floor. Why have something in your photo that is going to draw your viewer’s eye away from the focus on your subject?
Tip 10) Editing: I edit every single photo I take before posting or printing. My go-to editing apps are Lightroom CC (LOVE this app) VSCO, and Snapseed. To delve deep and watch me edit in these apps watch day 5 of the free iPhone Photography Mini Course
Lastly and most important, print your photos! Studies have proven that printed photos boost your children’s self-esteem. If that isn’t a profound reason to print your photos I don’t know what is!! This is why I l LOVE Chatbooks. They make it incredibly easy to print and treasure these photos. And a huge bonus is they are inexpensive enough that I let my toddlers open the package when it comes in the mail and run off to their reading nook to browse through them without worry if they get smudged or crinkled I can just order another one if need be. They love pointing out who they see in the pictures and what is happening, this is incredibly important to me that they know where they belong and how loved they are. So my final thoughts are to shoot often and have fun! You are the storyteller of your family and that is a precious and treasured role.
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