Today, I would like to share 5 simple tips and tricks on how to take better photos with your smartphone. It’s never been easier to take quality photos using our smartphone but do you know the basic rules of photography? Whether you want to snap fun images of your children, take better selfies, capture your cute fur babies or take photos of pretty much anything you want- these tips will help you to improve your smartphone photography skills.
Good light is the most important step of taking better photos with your smartphone. And I could write a whole blog post talking about light but I’ll try to keep it short and simple. In general, if you want to take a photo outside have your subject facing away from the sun. That means that you, the photographer, are actually facing the sun and your subject has the sun in the back of their head. Then, when taking your photo make sure that you don’t have the sun directly hitting your phone lens to avoid unwanted sun flares and blurry photos (the camera can’t focus well if the sun hits your smartphone lens). That being said, avoid having your subject face the sun because that creates dark circles under their eyes. And let’s be honest, don’t we all hate taking photos when we need to crunch our eyes because we’re directly facing the sun?! Yep, so next time, let’s turn around and capture a beautiful portrait with a pretty smile and an even exposed face.
Indoor photography is a little bit different on the other hand. When taking photos at home we do want our subject to face the light. Therefore, try to snap your pictures next to a window. You might be wondering though, why we don’t just turn on the lights? Well, I always prefer natural light. Artificial light creates this weird color cast in your images and it’s hard to edit it out. So I try to keep my lights off if possible and work with natural light only.
If you’re interested to see this skill applied take a look at this super cute indoor newborn photo shooting of little Lucas.
Secondly, choose a clean background. What I mean by this is a background free from too many distracting elements. Take a look at the sample images. The first one is a self portrait taken in my office. You can see a bunch of stuff up on the wall and it’s quite busy, therefore your eyes doesn’t know where to look at first- my face or my decorations. Now let’s compare this image to the image on the right. It’s still me, same facial expressions but a clean background. No distracting elements that could take away any attention from me. Having a cleaner, more simplified background helps you elevate your images by quite a few notches.
Now I understand, that it’s not always possible to take photos in front of an empty wall, especially when taking photos of our kids. They usually play wherever they are, surrounded by a bunch of their toys. Asking them to move to a different spot might ruin the whole moment. So what can we do in situations like that? Well, crop in. Try to move closer to your child, cropping out some of the distractions and focusing on them.
Composition and a clean background go well together. As you take a photo think about what you want to capture. Do you want to capture the whole room/landscape or just your subject? When I take a look at photos I took with an actual film camera during my childhood, I realize that my composition was pretty off. I usually ended up with images with a whole lot of background and the subject would be somewhat centered towards the bottom half of the photo. I’m sure I was trying to take a photo of a person and not the background… hahahaha. But those images are great examples that composition is a key element of photography.
To keep it simple again, there are two main compositions you can try to keep in mind in order to take better photos with your smartphone.
This is probably the most important tip for me. If you have worked with me before, you know that I’m not a huge fan of boring and stiff posing. I like to create my sessions fun and interactive to capture your real and honest you. When you take a photo think about the reason why you take it in the first place. Do you want to capture a genuine moment? Or would you like to photograph a nice portrait? For the latter, you will most likely pose your subject: maybe face straight on or a nice profile picture. Your subject may smile directly into the camera or show off a great model face.
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in capturing genuine, authentic moments I recommend staying away from posing your subject too much. In general, I like to put my clients in a certain position, for example standing side by side in a certain way, but I’m not giving too many instructions because I want to make sure that this is a natural position for my clients. Once my couples or families are in that position I allow them to be themselves and interact with each other using little prompts. This encourages natural behaviors and real, authentic emotions.
Here’s an example to clarify this: Let’s say your 6-year-old daughter just lost her first tooth and you want to send a photo of her “toothless” smiles to the grandparents. This might call for a more posed photo with a nice big smile right at the camera. But let’s say she received a new book from her grandparents and is deeply in her thoughts as she reads it. This is a beautiful situation of a genuine moment. Capture it as it unfolds in front of you. Now, let’s imagine that she isn’t in good light because she sits in a dark corner. You could simply ask her to move closer to a window and have her read her book there.
Last but not least, be creative and have fun playing around with different things. Sometimes it’s nice to have a general idea of what you would like to photograph. But often we’re right in the present when we see a beautiful moment that we would like to capture. Keep practicing and applying these tips and soon you’ll be starting to take better photos with your smartphone.
Have a beautiful day!
With love, Nicole
April 28, 2020
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