I gotta say, this topic probably orients most of my photographic approach towards my own personal photos. Even though I have a professional camera, I don't use it that often when it comes to my family photos. There, I said it. Let me tell you something, photographers love their gear like their own kids (I said it again), but a good photo relies way more on an eye than on the shutter. Below I will share some tips with some of my own phone photographs.
What's a good photo anyway?
It's definitely not all about that trendy earth tone one you saw on your friend's Instagram.
Let's go back to basics: - a good photo is the one that pull the right triggers. The one that makes you go back and forth on a memory journey, smile, miss someone, cry over, want to run away. A good photo makes you feel. That one crooked not well lit picture of your baby walking for the fist time amongst 50 other similar ones on your phone might not look aesthetically composed, but it's a moment that matters tremendously to you. That's what matters, and you are the one who's there everyday with the opportunities. Hiring a photographer takes a LOAD of pressure off for preserving family legacy, but let's be honest, that won't happen all the time.
Deep breaths. I will show you how to photograph LESS with MORE quality.
1. LET PLAYTIME BE
If you want your kids to stop hating taking photos, stop telling them to say "cheese" every time they look or do something cute. Chances are, they are not having it with us aiming the phone and interrupting what they're doing. Just get the photo as they are playing. If they are moving too fast and there's a lot of blur, wait until they are more calm. Depending on the phone, there isn't enough shutter speed to freeze the action. Be patient and wait. Also, you don't need 45 photos of young Maeve chasing bubbles as you scroll down your phone. Get between 5 and 10 of a good playtime and you will create a diverse playful library.
2. FIND THE LIGHT
Stick around places with interesting enough light. Wait for your kids to get in the bright area and then take the photo. You will get a mix of brightness and shadow that enriches the depth of the photograph. If you see an interesting scene, position yourself to get the light spot and then wait for something to happen. This is particularly difficult if you have a toddler as they tend to risk their lives every 15 minutes, so save it for safe times when there are more caretakers around.
3. ADJUST THE SCREEN BRIGHTNESS
Most smartphones will give you the option of sliding the light panel when you open the camera. This gives you more control over the brightest spot. If you have too much light outside, adjust according to the brightest area of the photo. If the highlights are busted, you can't recover them. Our eyes look for the brighter areas, so make sure everything is visible and there isn't much whiteness.
4. GET LOW
Time to prove you can squat. Just kidding. Maybe not. Anyways, getting the subject point of view creates a better feeling of what their universe is all about. Go low, keep the phone at their height and dive into what's going on. Get interested. Observe their tiny world as if you're looking through a magnifying glass. Photograph more than their faces, get little hands, feet and the interaction with their surroundings. You will be surprised.
5. CHECK THE EDGES
Lots of photos loose their potential because we were too focused on the main subject in the center and forgot about the edges. Leftovers add distraction to the eye. Think about what you want to say with that photo and eliminate the rest. If you did get lots of interference, crop it afterwards until the whole scene is clean enough for you to see what matters. Of course, too much cropping looks bad as quality reduces, but a photo trim sometimes is all you need. I usually apply the rule "does this object add to the storytelling?" to decide if I will cut something or not.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. Share this post with your parent friends and let's keep that phone scroll efficient!