9 Best iPhone Photography Tips to Take Better Photos of Your Kids
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In the ideal world, you could carry your awesome, yet, admittedly large, DSLR camera with you everywhere you go. You could capture every moment with that fancy piece of equipment. However, we all know better. Sometimes, it is just not realistic to be able to bring your DSLR camera with you everywhere. Maybe it’s too much to carry with all of your other bags, toys, etc. Or maybe, DSLR cameras aren’t allowed in the location you will be at, such as a stadium or concert venue.
Let’s get real here: a lot of your photos of your family are going to be, or already are, on your phone. And that’s okay! Technology has come far and phones have excellent cameras that make taking pictures on the go a breeze. There are even competitions where photographers are only allowed to use an iPhone, such as this competition that the Huffington Post wrote about last month. I talk about iPhones because I use one, specifically an iPhone 8 Plus. Your phone is an amazing photography tool on its own, but there are steps you can take to improve you iPhone photography even more. I describe nine of these steps below, most of which you can implement right after reading this post!
Stabilize your phone
A blurry photo does not make for a great photo. Oftentimes, photo blur is caused by what is known as “camera shake.” This results from a camera not being stable due to, as you can probably assume, the camera shaking. This happens a lot from our hands naturally shaking. There are a couple of methods you can use to help eliminate the shake.
One method you can try doesn’t require any extra accessories. Simply hold your phone closer to your body. Support the phone by holding it close to you and resting your arms on your sides. This should feel more stable and help keep your hands steady while holding your photo and taking your photo.
Another method that involves extra accessories involves using a tripod or tripod attachment. This eliminates any potential camera shake from holding your camera. A tripod attachment for phones can be attached to a tripod that you may already have for your DSLR camera. This is a great option to add to the equipment you already have. The one below is an item that I have used that has been effective for a low price:
I also like to utilize a tabletop tripod with a similar attachment. As the name implies, it can be set on a table or another flat surface vs. a tall tripod on the ground. I like the flexible legs of the one I have, which is similar to the below option. It allows for flexible with angles when shooting with it.
Turn on the grid
Your iPhone has an awesome grid built right into its camera app. You can find it by going to your iPhone settings, choosing the “Camera” application, and switching the “Grid” option on. Once you have your grid setting on, you will begin to see it on your screen whenever you take a photo, whether you use your rear or front camera. This grid will help you to be strategic in how you line up your image, such as with the horizon of your photo. Plus, you can use this grid to use the common composition technique called “The Rule of Thirds.”
The Rule of Thirds helps balance your photos and is an easy way to create pleasing composition in your photos. This rule involves splitting your photo into the same grid that your phone produces on the screen with your camera. The points of intersection of those grid lines, as well as the four lines that connect them all, are good points to place the point of interest of your photo.
You have likely heard the term exposure in regards to photography. In simple terms, exposure is the amount of light entering your camera when taking a photo. If an image is overexposed, generally excess light is being let into the camera. If an image is underexposed, generally not enough light is being let into the camera. That being said, there is an element of artistic preference to exposure.
You have the option to manipulate exposure on your iPhone to your preferences. When viewing the camera screen, tap on the yellow focus box and a “sun” will appear on the right side. You are now able to adjust the exposure by sliding that sun up and down. Sliding it up will increase the exposure, while sliding it down will decrease the exposure.
Another option is the edit the exposure after the photo is taken. The iPhone camera app has advanced editing options that allow for adjusting exposure, even if you didn’t think to do so initially. Once you have taken a photo, open it in the “Photos” application. Click on the dial sign in the right middle of the application. You will see the options “Light,” “Color,” and “B&W.” Click the arrow to open the dropdown menu and you will see “Exposure” as an option. This can then be adjusted on the photo you just took. While I am all about getting images correctly without having to rely on post-processing, sometimes moments happen too quickly to worry about making such adjustments. In that case, this is a great option.
Set your focus with AE/AF lock
Another huge benefit of the iPhone photos application is that you can lock your focus. Similar to on a DSLR, you can set your focus before taking your shot. Click on the yellow box and hold until you see “AE/AF Lock” pop up at the top of your screen. What is the benefit of this? Your focus now stays exactly where you want it and you can move around to get the perfect shot. This adds DSLR-like features to your iPhone camera and gives you more options with your photo without having to refocus every single time you want to adjust.
Take advantage of portrait mode, if you have it
Portrait mode for iPhones has been a game changer in my book. You can get awesome depth of field effects without having to use your DSLR. Apple added a second lens to the rear-facing camera to help create that amazing blur that you can get with your DSLR on your phone. In your photo app, choose portrait mode using the sliding options right above the shutter button. You have to adjust your stance a bit as you are required to be a certain distance from your main focal point, but it’s worth making the adjustment. This tends to be easier with a subject that is not moving.
Avoid using the flash
Try to avoid using the flash as much as possible. Light from the camera flash is harsh and can create an unappealing look in your photos. I never direct a flash directly at my subject using my DSLR or my phone, and with iPhones that is really your only option. Try to take advantage of natural light that is available to you as this will make photos much more flattering.
Don't use zoom
While zoom can be convenient, it does not produce the best images. Detail can be lost and image quality decreases when you zoom using your phone’s camera. Instead of zooming to get closer to your subject, move closer! You can create the same effect by moving your feet vs. swiping your screen. Plus, you can try different angles while moving as well, which can add interest to your iPhone photos.
If you are looking to get a closer crop on an image, I’d prefer you take the photo and crop it when editing the photo vs. zoom. You’ll still get a better-quality image by cropping the image to how you want it to look than if you were to zoom the camera.
For action shots, use burst mode
We all know that kids sit still so well for photos…*insert me chuckling to myself at that thought*. Of course, that’s not the case, kids love to move! Burst mode is easy to use and captures multiple images at one time, allowing you to capture images throughout whatever movement of which you are taking a photo. To use burst mode, hold down the shutter button while you are taking the photo (photos in this case) instead of clicking it once. This will automatically shoot a burst of images for you (it even makes a cool sound if your volume is up, if you are into that sort of thing). From there, you can pick the best photos from the burst and use that to show how much fast fun you are having together!
Use an editing app
As mentioned earlier in this post, iPhones do have more advanced editing options than they used to. However, there are a lot of other editing apps that are available to you outside of the photos app. These apps can help you avoid using filters on your photos and give you more editing options. Filters are harsh and can add some crazy coloring to your images. I’d recommend avoiding them and making more subtle changes.
I love the Mastin Labs Filmborn app for editing. Their options add the film look to your images, which I love. You can also do minor editing with their application as well. The VSCO app is another great option for editing on your iPhone and is a typical favorite. You have so much more control over your images using these apps.
Ready to go out there and use your iPhone camera at its greatest potential? Awesome! Comment below and let me know which tip is your favorite!