Except for a few holdouts, it seems that just about everybody has a smart phone these days. I’m an extremely loyal iPhone user. I love all that it can do! Outside of the mapping applications, which are a lifesaver for someone like myself, my favorite feature is the camera. Even though I’m a professional photographer, I often prefer not to carry my gear with me. It’s heavy, expensive, and frankly doesn’t fit in the diaper bag. Sometimes I do bring it with me when I’m out and about with my little man, but the majority of the time it stays at home. Because of this, I’ve been challenging myself to become better at “iphonography.” The camera capabilities of newer smart phones and the availabilities of camera and editing apps has opened the doors for incredible photography using just your smart phone. It’s taken me a long time to embrace this technology, but once my son became mobile, I knew it was time to learn how to use my phone’s camera to its full potential, so I wouldn’t miss a single moment!
Since trying to be intentional in learning how to use different camera or editing apps, I’ve found that a few simple tweaks and features can greatly enhance your photos. I’m by no means an expert, but I thought I would share some tips I’ve learned along the way.
Smart-Phone Photography Tips for On-the-Go Moms:
Learn Your Phone Camera:
Sounds simple, but most built in smart phone camera tools have more to offer than just tapping the screen to the take a picture. While I can’t speak for Android based devices, the iPhone camera app allows you to pick your focus point and exposure. Just tap the screen where you want the camera to focus. If it appears too dark or light, just use your finger to slide the exposure adjustment (looks like a sun right next to the focus box) until you’re satisfied. Just changing the exposure can have a huge impact and take away the need for additional adjustments!
Use Natural Light:
I cannot reiterate this one enough!! Using natural light as much as possible when using your smart-phone camera will change your pictures for the better! Think of it like this: you know how “flattering” you look in department stores while trying on clothes?? Often times it is due to the artificial lighting. Natural light is beautiful and forgiving, fluorescent lights are not! Sometimes you have to use artificial light and that’s okay too! Just know that natural light is supreme and if possible, aim for that.
Download and Experiment with Apps:
These days I only occasionally use the iPhone camera app, but rather use other apps I’ve downloaded to access the phone’s camera. My two favorites are VSCO and Afterlight (both of which are available for Android devices, as well). Both of these apps allow you to make a variety of adjustments to your image such as changing exposure, contrast, temperature, etc… Don’t worry if you don’t know what each area can do, just play around and see what the effects are!
Both of these apps (and others out there) allow you to apply filters to your pictures. Filters can be fun to play with, but in full force they can also make your pictures look dated (not in the cool, vintage way!) so they often need to be tweaked and have the intensity lessened. When I use filters, I use VSCO. I have found that I gravitate towards specific filters and I try to use only those filters so that my photos have a consistent look to them. Most of the time I take my pictures using the VSCO app and I edit in there, as well. I personally find that the Afterlight apps allows for more creative control over image adjustments, so occasionally I’ll open an image there, make adjustments and then bring the image back into VSCO to apply a filter, if I want to.
Use Your Camera Self-Timers:
Okay mommas, we all know that most of the time we are the picture takers, the ones standing behind the camera, but rarely the ones in front! While it’s always nice to hand the phone off to someone else to take a picture, sometimes that isn’t possible. As a photographer I am passionate about getting mommas in the frame with their little ones. It doesn’t happen enough and those moments and pictures will be cherished by everyone. A great solution to this is getting to know the self-timer features of your built in camera app or of downloaded apps. This is an area that I’m just starting to experiment with during times that I really want a picture of myself and my son, but using the long arm technique of reaching out with my camera isn’t going to cut it! I personally use the self-timer in my iphone’s built in camera app and Afterlight.
Some of the pictures I take, I save just for family, but others I post to my instagram account www.instagram.com/amy.melissa. The pictures I take with my iPhone aren’t technically perfect, but they represent memories that I want to hold onto and share with others, which for me is what taking pictures is all about. Hopefully these tips will inspire creativity and confidence in using your phone to take better pictures of your kiddos. If you post your pictures on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, tag them with #DMMB so we can see what you’ve been up to!