Yes, I’m clearly an iPhone user. So this article is going to come from that perspective. That said, I’m happy to note that Android phone users have many of these same options even if I’m not very familiar with them. The point here is that I want you to take better photos of your life, of your family. And I’m not always around for you, so sometimes you’ll just have to do this on your own!
All the photos below were taken on my iPhone 5s (with the exception of the image of Finn and I in a tent as that’s from Joe’s phone). Also, all of the images were processed solely on my iPhone. No Photoshop, no retouching. I pulled these straight from my cloud storage. These are all from this past summer and you can also find them all on my Instagram account.
How to Take Better iPhone Photos
1. Just take a Photo!
If you never take the photo you’ll never have something to show. Just take it. Even the worst exposure and poorest composition is better than nothing at all when you’re talking about your kid’s first day of school. After you at least take the photo, you can always improve upon it. The beauty of digital photography in general is that unless you’re running out of space, you can just keep working on it to make a better photograph – or frame as you’ll see me call it.
There are a few basics here that will very quickly add more interest to your personal photos! First things first, get your subject out of the middle of the photo. Think of your photograph (or frame) as a tic-tac-toe grid. (Or a hashtag!) Where those lines cross on the grid are excellent places to put your subject in the frame.
3. Remove Distraction
Remove distracting elements! My iPhone has a very wide angle of view – meaning there’s a lot to see. Sometimes, that’s not what we want. We just want to see a little bit of life, not everything around you. Cropping after you take the image is fine if you don’t crop too far, because then you’ll lose valuable pixels and your photo may appear grainy. It’s best to get in close where you can before you take the photo. Sometimes, this might just mean waiting for the moment when distractions leave your frame as in the case below.
4. Get High, Get Low
A long, long time ago the best advice about taking better photos I got from a mentor was that the viewer should never be able to tell how tall you are from looking at your photos. Especially when photographing children, it’s important to get down on their level so you’re not always looking down at them. Beyond that, it just adds a ton more visual interest if you photograph from different vantage points throughout the activity or day or week or whatever you’re doing with your photos.
5. Details Matter
I think documenting your family as they go through life is very important. That doesn’t, however, mean it’s always about the people. Sometimes the little details that make up life around you tell a much bigger story than human beings. Below are a few vignettes from our life in July. Beach, gardening, camping – these are very summery things and tell a lot about how we choose to spend our time.
With details, you’ll want to stick to the photo rules I’m listing her about composition most of the time OR fill the entire frame with your details. I tend to favor off-centered details but for the right detail filling the frame entirely with brings a whole different look.
6. Show the Action
I’m always going to love a photo of my child smiling, but what caused him to smile? I want to see that, too! I love a storytelling family portrait far more than a posed photo and the same applies to my own family. Show the action (and the reaction too) if you can. As with all the rules, this isn’t just about your phone’s camera. It certainly applies on how to take better iPhone photos but will important no matter how you’re taking the photo.
7. Be in the Photos
Don’t fall into the most common of parent traps! Make sure you’re in photos, too! Hand the phone to a stranger if you’re at an event. I know I’m always happy to help someone out when asked in public. And I’ve never had someone refuse to take a quick photo of my own family. Your kids will one day want to see what you looked like when they were 2 or 9 or 13. I promise!
And if you have to resort to selfies, just do it. It’s okay. Even actual professional photographers do this sometimes.
Next up, I’ll have an article about how to make your phone photos look a bit more like pro photos on the cheap using photo apps on your phone. Yes, any smart phone whether iPhone or Android. There are options for us all!