Technology has made it very easy to capture the beauty of childhood these days, and expensive photography equipment is no longer required to create eye-catching images and printable art. In fact, most of us have the perfect tool literally right at our fingertips: our phones. With improved technology, better phone lenses, great photography apps and printing sources specializing in transforming phone photos to art displays, anyone can create a beautiful gallery of family moments simply using their phone.
Want to up the ante on your phone photography? While the subject and “story” of a photograph are what makes it special, there are many ways you can creatively capture moments and add more visual interest. Here are ten easy tips to take your phone photography to a new level:
Use Negative Space
We tend to want to center our subject and make everything symmetrical, but cornering our subjects and leaving a wide area of “negative space” can create a beautiful artsy shot. Get away from always centering people in your shots and play around with creative positioning.
Shoot From Above
Look through your phone’s photo feed. Are most of your photos taken straight on? Try a bird’s eye view next time to tell a different story of an image, and don’t get hung up on the fact that your child might not be looking at the camera. It’s amazing what elements of a photo show up in overhead shots that wouldn’t have been visible in an eye-level shot. For example, the wood train pieces, the pattern of the sheets, the chalk drawings and the round strawberry plate in the photos above would have gone unnoticed in a straight-on shot.
Look for Winning Backdrops
As a photographer, finding beautiful backdrops amid a hundred everyday life scenes comes naturally for me now, and you’ll find yourself noticing them more as well. A photo is much more visually pleasing with a backdrop of a colorful wall or beautiful textures than, say, a trash can. Some backdrop suggestions: walls with repeated textures like brick or stone, colorful graffiti, interesting architecture, patterned wallpaper or, as in the photos above, vivid scenes like retro signs in a grocery store or a beautiful stack of firewood.
Know When to Go Wide
I love close-up and detail shots, but sometimes stepping back and capturing an entire scene can tell a much better story in a photo. Look at your background. If you took several steps back and allowed the environment to have a place in the photo, how would your image change? In the above photos, they gain more interest and add more story elements.
Look for Light Contrasts
“Go to the light” is a good rule of thumb for photography, but there are a lot of beautiful image opportunities hidden in shadows and light slivers. The contrast of dark against bright light spots creates stunning images and literally creates a spotlight for the subject of the photo to shine.
Master the Silhouette Shot
Whether you’re taking them against a sunset or a bright window, silhouette shots create timeless images. To get a good silhouette shot, you need to shoot right into the light. When using the iPhone camera, you might need to tap different places on the screen (outside of your subject) so that the camera’s exposure is set for the background and not the subject. Have fun with these–ask your subject to twirl, jump or dance to capture great motion against the light.
Leave Something Out
You don’t always have to include the entire subject to create a beautiful image. Experiment with capturing only a part of your subject–little feet, half of a face, a hand, the edge of coffee cup, a shadow–to leave some elements of your image up to the viewer’s imagination.
Include Interesting Elements
Look for color and patterns and anything out-of-the-ordinary to include in your photos to make them pop. Color, textures, patterns, rainbows–this is food for the eyes! In the photos above, the colorful Twister board, the interesting floor tile pattern and the vivid “Pop!” of the red photo booth give each of these photos a visual boost.
Download a Good Editing App
While much better than they used to be, phone cameras still have limitations. A lot of these limitations are being overcome with amazing photo apps though, where exposure, brightness, hues, shadows, color, clarity and contrast can be easily adjusted with a quick slide of your finger. Many of these also provide artistic filters and self timer applications. Some great user-friendly editing apps: Afterlight, VSCO Cam and PicTapGo!
Think Like Peter Pan
We all love capturing those up-close-and-personal images of our kids, but there are so many other elements of childhood that make beautiful photos than just straight-on shots of our child in a highchair, our child on the couch, our child in a swing. Think like Peter Pan when capturing your child and aim to catch glimpses of the magical wonder of childhood. Skirts twirling, rope skipping, bubbles blowing, shadows dancing, scuffed knees covered with Hello Kitty Band-aids, little fingers gripping crayons–all of it.
Let your images represent everything that makes you come alive–the beautiful things about your child and your family and your world that make you grateful and happy.