How can I use my phone to take great photos?
It’s the summer holidays. You’re out every day with friends and family trying to keep the kids entertained and make the most of the weather. You’re desperate to take some photos to capture it all but all the photos you take only ever end up blurry or nowhere near as good as you’d hoped. You just want to know how to take great family photos with your phone but don’t have a clue how!
Let’s face it, we all have our phones on us all the time, and phone technology has developed so well that the camera capabilities and functionalities on our phones these days are more than enough to take a decent photo with. I mean, you wouldn’t expect (or accept) me taking photos with my phone at your family photo shoot, but phones are more than good enough for the everyday opportunities that present themselves.
So let’s embrace and learn how to use them properly to capture those cracking family moments!
I have created a Top Ten Tips list that hopefully may help:
1) Get down low:
I am always saying this to my friends when they ask me how they should take great family photos. By getting down low, I mean take the images at the height that the children are at. It gives more a sense that you’re in the moment, that you belong there. It makes it feel more personal and intimate, like you’re very really captured something special.
2) Clean the lens:
This may sound so basic and silly, but it’ll make all the difference. Phones spend most of their time stuffed in pockets or bags, so it is inevitable that it’ll get dirty. A dirty lens will result in cloudy or murky images, which is heartbreaking when the subject of the photo is amazing!
3) Rule of thirds:
The rule of thirds is a well-known technique for guiding photographers and artists to create the most appealing composition for an image. Imagine the entire image is split into a 3x3 grid. The idea is to position your subject on one of the grid lines, or points where the lines intersect.
People often take images of their children/pets etc and have their face slap bang in the middle of the screen, whereas a more pleasing shot would be to have them in a less central position on one of the third lines. It also leads nicely into creating the use of negative space which I will explain next. Having the grid lines also massively helps you if you have a tendency to tilt your hands and therefore create a wonky horizon.
If you don’t know how to access the grid lines on your phone, I went into settings – camera and clicked grid. I have an iPhone but am sure it’ll be a similar set up on other devices.
4) Negative space:
When I first learned about this, I thought it was a bit weird – to have your photo filled with ‘negative space’ i.e. the space around the subjects. I thought it was better to have as much filling the frame as possible.
I have since learned that this (negative space) has the potential to be the making of a photo. It draws your eye to the subject and gives it more attention by allowing it to ‘breathe’. If you have too much going on in a photo then you run the risk of the subject becoming lost. This is more appealing to the eye.
5) Embrace the light:
If you want to learn to take great photos with your phone, then embrace the light. Light has the ability to totally transform an image. Normally you would have your back to the light so that the light shines on the subject, but try playing around with it. What happens if you shoot into the light? What happens if you are shooting in the dark but don’t want to use the flash to light the subject (and everything else in the vicinity)? Could you use another light source like a fire or the light from another phone? Play around and see what amazing results you can get!
6) Mix up candid with posed:
Now my kids are well-versed on posing for me especially if there are sweets involved. But sometimes even they get bored, or I get bored with the images all very posed and contrived. Some of the best photos are the candid ones where they’re running around, having an amazing time and their smiles are totally natural!
7) Don’t be worried about taking selfies:
I know that for young people, taking selfies is where it’s at and they do it all the time, but I always used to feel self-conscious about it. Now I have realised that sometimes if I don’t do it, then the moment is gone forever.
Some of my favourite family photos are easy selfies that I’ve taken, especially when the children were smaller – they liked to be able to see themselves on the screen. If my husband isn’t there or is busy, then if I don’t take it, nobody will and in years to come I’ll forget about all about those precious moments that made us laugh and smile so much!!
8) Mix up the angles:
If you can, try and mix up the angles that you take photos from. Not only does it mix up the look and the feel of your photos, but it can also give you the opportunity to remove an unsightly or busy background from the shot. I get so annoyed when I take a picture of my kids but the photo is nowhere as good as it could be thanks to all the noise in the background (as you can see in the last picture where Charlie is chasing the sea gulls! I should have actually moved off my towel and shot towards the sea instead so there aren’t so many people around him)!
9) Try and use leading lines:
Leading lines don’t need to be confusing. Think of them as something that naturally draws your eye to the subject of the photo, whether it the line of the pavement, a tunnel or footprints. They all draw attention to the main subject of the photo, which is exactly what you want!
10) Don’t be afraid to experiment and just enjoy:
We are so lucky in this day and age (goodness when did I start sounding like my parents!) to have all this amazingly accessible technology in our pockets, so I say just go for it. Enjoy and take as much photos as you can because you’ll never regret taking too many, only not enough! And if they don’t come out well, you can always delete them!
I really hope this blog has been helpful and you are now better equipped and more confident to have a go! Good luck and enjoy!