If you feel your cell phones images of your family look dark, messy and dull , this post is for you!
A PRECIOUS MOMENT CAPTURED IN CAMERA TRUMPS ANY RULE.
These tips will just make your everyday pictures of your family to look better. Don't feel discouraged! Practice makes it better until it becomes second nature.
1. Clean your cell phone camera lens
Just fog it up and clean on your clothes ( be careful to not scratch it)
2. Lighting is everything!!
If indoors turn the artificial light off. Use natural/window light (front, side and back)
A) Front light: softens and flattens features , add shine to the eyes (catch light). Best for kids and selfies
B) Side light: Adds more shadow and mood. Best for still life or a single person portrait.
C) Back light:Best to enhance silhouette.
If outdoors you have to be very careful with the sun and lack of: Sunset and sunrise are the best time to photography, but its not always possible
A) If sunny, outside keep the sun behind your subject or hitting the side of the face (behind ears) , this way you avoid squint eyes. If if you find a shade even better !
B) If cloudy, place your subject facing the sun ( where it should be ) this way you avoid raccoon eyes
3. Changing your perspective to tell your story
Sometimes changing your position can make all the difference in a photo. Dont be afraid to lay down or stand in a chair to take a picture. Change of perspective works well for candid moments of trying to recreated a candid moment. Your subject does not need to look at the camera at all times.
A) Lay on the ground
B) Crop tight to get a feeling of intimacy
C) Remember your subject doesn't need to be always looking at the camera!!! For example this is one of my favorite images of my son! it was his first day at kindergarten. I don't need to say how much I was crying taking this picture but I tried to focus on the moment and tell the story. The story it tells is that he was ready! He kissed me and without looking back he ran towards his new school, his independency, his new friends and his new life. Would this picture be that impactful if he was looking at me and smiling ? absolutely not !!!
D) Move to the side
E) Overhead (bird eye view)
F) Straight on shots: Get to the subject eye level to create connection with your viewer
G) Shoot wide to tell a story. In this case I wanted to convey a feeling of loneliness because we were in quarantine. So as we got on the beach my son asked: - Where is everyone? I need to see people! :(
A) Be careful to not crop body parts like hands, fingers and feet (A1). A good place to crop is above the knee and above the waist (A2)
B) Watch your background. I know it can be hard in the heat of the moment but try to watch for cars, garbage cans, signs or any other object that will take the attention away from your subject (Pic B1 - The wagon right behind his head is very distracting). Choose a natural background such as trees, flowers, houses, garage door or even a road (B2). Taking pictures indoors might be hard because its usually surrounded by objects. I always look for a blank wall, if that is not available in your house, use backgrounds that will add (complement the picture ) such as a wall of family portraits or artwork, the child's room or even in the staircase (B3)
C) I know its easier to just put your subject right in the center of the frame but I encourage you to use explore the scenario and integrate that into the frame. In the first picture (C1) not only he is in the middle of the frame he is also surrounded by very distracting background. I moved him in from of the garage door (B2) this way he stands out a lot more. In the second picture I placed Thomas and his dad in the bottom left because I didn't want to show the asphalt instead I showed more of the trees.
5. Watch out for the "moment" or just re-create it
If you are luck enough to have your camera on you for that amazing capture, good for you! although its not a reality for the majority of us moms. So ask them to do it again, add a twist so they can redo it genuinely.
NEVER ask to look at you and say cheese! Those smiles always look very forced. Instead say something your child always laugh at. In my case, I tell silly jokes about fart and stinky feet, he ALWAYS cracks up! The same for multiples kids, tell them to tickle each other, ask them who snores the loudest or run a contest to see who makes the funniest face and look at each other, be ready because just after they will give the most beautiful smiles. ALWAYS remember: don't push it, just move on, don't make them traumatized! including the husbands!
6. Last but not least. Photographing at night
Lets see expectations from the beginning: Cell phones do not have good low light capabilities. So you do your best with the techniques i will give you
A) If you are indoors: Turn the lights on and place your subject facing the light and if necessary turn the flash on on the cell phone camera.
B) If you are outdoors: I dont ever turn the flash on because it ruins the ambient light, instead place your subject facing a fire pit or a lamp. Remember ask the subject to stay still for a little longer because they cell phone will take longer to snap a shot in low light situation
"Bia, that's a great blog but its about time to have professional family pictures done".