I've really been wanting to learn how to take really good pictures of my kids. They are so cute and different at each stage of life, I want to capture it but in the way that I see it...faded background, faces in focus, soft color...like a dream. So I got some help from our amazing photographer friend, Alicia Brown of Write You On My Heart. She recently started a blog about taking better pictures of kids with your phone and you HAVE to go read it! She's even put out a free e-book with more tips and tutorials. You will definitely want to check it out!
Alicia spent several hours with me and my kids and showed me how to use my phone and how to "set the stage" for awesome pictures. Here are the tips:
1. Download a camera app such as VSCOcam (that's the one she recommended I download).
There are presets that come with it but you can also download more. Some are free, some cost a few bucks. Just play with the app to figure out what does what.
2. Wipe camera lens on back of phone clean
You can use your shirt or a napkin, etc. You don't want any smudges on your lens.
3. Turn sound off
This way your kids have no idea you're even taking pictures and they feel much more relaxed.
4. Use Focus and Exposure Icons
When you have your camera on, tap the screen with two fingers and two icons will come up. Use your finger to move the exposure around on the screen. When it's over something light the exposure turns darker and when it's over something dark the exposure turns brighter. Most the time you'll want it right in the middle. You want to see good skin color in the subject's face. Then tap on the icon to lock it.
Move the focus icon to whatever you want to focus on. Most the time you'll probably want it on the subject's face. Sometimes you may want it on whatever the subject is focusing on if you're taking from behind or above the subject.
5. Square phone with background.
You want the lines in the background to line up with the lines of your screen. If there's something in the background you don't like, move it or move your position. You want to shoot straight on, not at an angle. If you're taking a picture over a wood floor, even lining up the wood planks with your phone helps.
6. Get level with subject
When taking pictures of kids it's best to get down to their level. It's part of squaring with the background. Or if you want an overhead shot, get directly above your subject and shoot straight down.
7. Hold phone very still
This is the hardest part for me. I always forget to hold my hands very still as I take the picture. One trick Alicia taught me was holding my finger on the snap button and when I'm ready to snap the pic I release my finger. This helps to not jerk the phone around by tapping it with your finger.
8. Take lots of pictures
Sometimes I will snap constantly and take 20 pictures if my kid is moving, such as the twirling picture. My girl was twirling around and I kept snapping. Out of the 10 or 15 pictures I took of her twirling, I got one or two good ones. And I took 20 or so pictures of her sitting on the chair by the window but only a few were really good.
9. Edit picture using a preset
Most of the presets are very harsh, but you can adjust them by clicking twice on the preset you want. By moving the bar to the left it brings it closer to the original photo. I usually adjust mine to somewhere in the middle.
10. Use other editing tools, but not too much
I always sharpen just slightly, sometimes fade just a touch and once-in-awhile warm up the temperature. If you find a preset you like you won't have to do much to the pic after adjusting the preset. I like the A6 preset because it automatically warms up the picture to my liking. And for black and white pictures X1 is used a lot.
I love that we can take beautiful pictures now with our phones...something we ALWAYS have with us and can pull out in a second. Kid's are so spontaneous and clever, I love that I can catch those moments now thanks to these tools.
I also had Alicia help me a little with my DSLR. These are the pictures I captured with my "fancy" camera...