Laura Levitan is a Dallas-based contemporary fine art photographer specializing in maternity and newborn portraits. Laura works with her clients to create stunning works of art for their homes. Through photography, Laura tells the story of each family with custom imagery and exclusive professionally printed artwork. But Laura has a dirty little secret. While on vacation or when spending time with her kids, she rarely gets the pro camera out. She prefers to capture day-to-day memories, on the fly, with her cell phone. Please read below to learn behind the lens tips and tricks for capturing great cell phone photos of your kids, wherever you are.
Basic Cell Phone Camera Tips
- Clean your lens
- There’s nothing worse than messing up a picture because of the mess all over your lens. Make sure to keep that lens clean and smudge free!
- Turn phone horizontal
- We see the world in a panorama. Sometimes it’s nice to take a picture in portrait mode. But for the most part you will see more of the action when you use landscape.
- Zoom with your feet
- Cell phones are not equipped with powerful zooms. You can lose a great deal of quality in your image if you use the zoom on the cell phone. Just use your feet or take a full size photo and crop later.
- Keep camera steady
- This is pretty self-explanatory – brace yourself!
- Always be ready
- If you can, keep your phone in camera mode. This way you’ll always be ready to snap that picture.
Get to know the settings on your cell phone camera
- Set your focus
- Use the box on the camera screen to set your focus. Just tap on the screen where you want your focus to be and things will become much more clear.
- Adjust exposure
- On the iPhone next to the focus box there is a sun icon. Once that appears just swipe up or down on your screen to raise or lower exposure.
- Take multiple shots
- To make sure you get the right one just keep pushing that trigger. You can always go in and delete the bad shots later.
- Use burst for kids
- Use burst mode to get many options.
- Try different modes
- Experiment with all of the modes on your cell phone camera. If you don’t understand how to use them YouTube is your friend. Keep playing until you find what you like.
Lighting: The most important thing no matter what camera you use
- Use light from the side or front
- Shade is your friend
- Golden hour is the best time of day to shoot
- Shoot on cloudy days
- Use backlighting unless shooting a silhouette
- Shoot in direct sunlight
- Use your flash unless you really have no other choice
Composition: No matter the camera composition makes the portrait
****Disclaimer – none of the following portraits were taken with a cell phone. They are just the best examples I have for the composition style I am trying to demonstrate.****
- Rule of Thirds
- Use the grid setting on your phone to help you visualize where you place your subject in the frame. Try to place your subject in one of the four quadrants of the grid.
- See how many triangles you can picture here with the posing. Dad’s arms form a triangle. Mom and Dad’s heads and bodies form a triangle. All three sets of eyes form a triangle. See if you can find more and list them in the comments below!
- Leading lines
- See how the steps form lines leading up and out of the portrait and they also lead and focus your eye into the subject.
- Avoid distracting backgrounds
- This is self-explanatory and I do not have an example 🙂
- Use reflections to provide interest
- Here the couple is framed by the bridge. You can use all sorts of things in the environment to frame your subject.
- Use negative space
- Sometimes the space around your suject is as important as your suject. All of the negative space here leads your eyes into the subject.
Perspective: What do you see?
- Get down on their level
- Bird’s eye view
- Play with angles
Now what? – What do you do with all of your cell phone photos?
- Experiment with editing apps
- Don’t over process – sometimes less is more. Don’t go crazy with filters. If the photo is amazing it should be good without too much editing.
- Print your pictures!