Phone Photos


The whole beauty of smart phones to me is that the camera is always with you!  They should call them smart cameras with a phone because that is the order of importance to me. Just ask my friends and family, I take an annoying amount of photos and that is usually me holding back;   I actually want to take even more!  My daughter calls me a ‘creeper’ because I take photos without people knowing.  But those are sometimes the best ones!  I love candids.  Why not take a ton of photos and just delete them down to the few best ones afterwards?  Here is what I have learned about the photos I like best.

#1 – Natural light is good.  Sunrise and sunset are the best lighting.  Full sun or shade are good as long as the photographer and the subject are in the same lighting.  For example, if you stand in the sun and take a photo of someone in the shade, the photo will be too dark. Indoor lighting often makes the photo yellowish.  Try to turn off as many overhead lights as possible and shoot near a window or with lamp light.

This photo was shot within an hour of sunset.

#2 – Snap immediately , as soon as something you want to capture happens.  It might be your only chance at a spontaneous moment.  But then, if it’s still happening, take shots from different sides of the subject, check what is in the background, make sure your shadow is not in the shot.  Move objects that are distracting in the frame.  Move your phone to take lower angles and higher angles.  Try the flash off and flash on.

First I snapped this photo, which is cute, but the point of the photo was to show we visited a tea shop.  A few years from now I might forget where this was even taken.
For the second photo I went behind and took it. Now we can definitely see we were at a tea shop.

#3 – Sometimes a photo is best if it’s off-center, other times, a close up with no distractions in the background, or maybe backing up to capture more of the surrounding tells the best story .  It’s something to think about as you photograph.  You should  take all of these types of photos at one event.  You wouldn’t want to take all close up photos of a child playing, but you will want some to be close up.  For a few photos you will want to pull back to get the setting, get more of the story.    When in doubt or if you don’t have much time to take the photo, it’s best to take your photo from back a ways, you can always crop it later.

A close up shot to show Brodey’s new rainboots.
Off center sometimes makes a more interesting photo. Still close up since the memory I am capturing is the first time with the new rainboots, splashing in the puddles.
Then a farther out shot to show the yard after the rain.

#4 –  Edit!  Mess around with simple editing like cropping and  lightening.  I almost always lighten a photo just a bit.  It just makes a photo a little crisper.  Watch skin tone if there are people in the photo because sometimes lightening even the tiniest bit will wash someone out;  so in that case, do not lighten.  If you like filters, play around with them, try a photo in black and white or sepia.   You can do that right in the photo app of your phone.  You might want to download a more advanced app like Enlight or PicTapGo.   There are sooo many photo apps, check into them and see which are most comfortable for you.

This is the original photo.
I lightened the photo slightly and cropped out some of the sofa and pajamas because I thought it was too much and distracted from his face. It’s just a personal preference.

What if YOU are the subject in a photo instead of being the photographer?  I always freeze and take the most unflattering pose!  I almost never like a photo of myself when I see one someone has taken of me and here is what I tell myself after it’s too late.  Pull your shoulders back, suck in your stomach and pull your chin forward.  Those are always my biggest critiques of myself.  If the photographer gives you enough warning before the shot, also keep in mind, whatever is closest to the camera will look larger that it is!   A problem with selfies;  whoever takes the photo gets the largest head!  Sitting down is a risky pose because it’s almost impossible for your legs to not look larger.   Look at the person taking the picture as if they didn’t have the camera in front of their face.  Hopefully it is someone you like and it will show on your face.  If it’s not, then picture someone you like!  It will give you a more natural smile, even your eyes will smile.  Its a lot to think about and you probably won’t be about to do all of these things, but every once in a while, especially a group shot, you have a few minutes to run through the checklist!

Or you could just hide behind a sign! 🙂

I like to document everything with a photo.  The things I remember about the past are the things I have photographed .  You see it over and over when you scroll through your photos or look through photo books.  If you post it on Facebook, they randomly show you a photo from one year ago or three years ago and you get to remember all over again.  Your kids will remember childhood moments that you have captured with your camera and if they don’t remember, they will ask you about it and you will  get to tell the story!

This photo was taken on a weekend in Santa Barbara six years ago. When I see this, i am reminded that when Joe took a picture the monkey lunged at him. I see my son next to my husband and I remember we were celebrating his birthday there and he brought two friends along. If not for this photo I might forget some of these details.

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