"IT IS THE PHOTOGRAPHER, NOT
THE CAMERA, THAT IS THE
1. Missing the perfect moment by a nanosecond can be very frustrating, but there is a simple fix to stop fumbling and unlock your phone without breaking into a sweat. I was a fumbler, until I realised I didn't need to pass security to access the camera! Get in the habit of using the camera button, positioned bottom right on your screen. Alternatively tap on the screen and swipe to the left to launch the camera. It's so easy! So easy in fact even our kids do it! This is how they gain access to our cameras and take lots of random shots!
2. When taking a headshot the Portrait mode helps achieve a blurred background. The depth effect draws your attention onto your subject and you can alter how much blur you would or wouldn’t like later.
3. Consider your environment! When I’m taking a clients portrait (with my DSLR) I may use a backdrop, to eliminate distractions. This makes the subject the main focus. This studio set up doesn’t work for every image though, for family and lifestyle, often a story telling approach is better and an environmental portrait is more authentic. Your washing, hanging on the line or in my case my dirty bath could be just the thing to make your photo sing.
4. If your children are running around or playing and you want to freeze their fun, use the BURST mode. The iPhone can take up to 10 images per second by pressing down on the shutter and holding. When viewing images in Photos choose the best of the bunch and easily delete the rest.
5. Never use the flash. It casts harsh shadows across our faces. Try and work with your available light. If you are in a really low light situation you could always ask to borrow someone else’s phone and switch on their flash light! You might end up with a grainy looking photo, but it's possible to remove some noise later. Here, an iPhone's torch light is switched on and hidden in the book to light up the face.
6. Seek out the best light. It takes some forward planning but it makes the biggest difference to your images. When shooting outdoors, the best light is always open shade, it's soft and flattering. Open shade is the shadow at the side of a house or fence, under a tree or porch.
If you are indoors however, place key toys strategically in pools of light or where you will create a reflection and gently encourage your child to play with them. Some kitchen cupboards often have a beautiful sheen to them and will lend themselves to being photographed nicely. Try sitting your child down in the kitchen to tidy your cupboards (keeps them busy) and I’m sure you’ll get plenty of lovely photographs. The reflections in the cupboard doors will add depth and texture to your image. Here, my boy is playing with his cement mixer and some messy lentils. The side of our cupboard is behaving like a mirror, making it appear that I have twice as much drying up to do!
7. Back light is another one of my favourite lighting set ups. I’m a fan of Victorian cameos and love Rob Ryans paper cut images. Creating silhouettes of your children is an easy trick, look for big expanses of light, and shoot towards the light. Give your child an uninterrupted silhouette making sure there is space all around them. Taking a photo from a low angle sometimes helps and expose for the light. The seaside is the perfect place to try this technique, interiors with large windows too or anywhere where there is high ground.
8. Camera shake is a common reason for blurry images. I try and save my shaky hands for when the gravy bowl is being passed round and use anything solid to rest my phone on. This could be a doorway, wall, tables to keep your device sturdy and parallel. I've taken this image crouching down with my elbow resting on my knee. I've transformed myself into a human tripod!
9. Don't be scared of composition. Lead your eye to the important part of your photo by using THE RULE OF THIRDS and LEADING LINES. The idea is to create more balanced images by placing points of interest at points where the horizontal and vertical lines converge. In my example you can see I have placed the figure where the horizontal and vertical lines meet and have used the handrail and skirting as a leading line, drawing the viewers eye to the small boy. The lines divide the image into three sections on both axis.
You can set your camera to show this grid on your view finder. Here's how: go to Utilities on your iPhone, find Settings, then Camera and check Grid is active.
10. Lets finish with editing. My images are stored on my iPhone in Photo. I use Camera +2 (available to purchase from the App Store) and it can be used on your iPad too. Camera +2 has the functionality to edit the depth effect and it has some great filters to emulate (among others,) Analog Film and Hollywood looks, including "Amelie" and "Gotham." I'm not a big fan of filters but you can adjust the opacity of the effect to make it look more subtle. Sometimes, I use Snapseed too, for times when I'm feeling creative. (The image with the cat's tail above, has been edited using this app) It's the closest app you can get to Photoshop on your phone, you can create double exposures, add lens blur and grunge to name just a few effects! Have a play, try some of the photo apps on offer and discover what works for you.
I've really enjoyed writing this post and hope you've enjoyed reading my top ten iPhone tips to help improve your iPhone Photography too. If you'd like to find out more of what I'm up to, please follow me over on Instagram or check out my Facebook page Syllabub & Bloom
Also, please pop back again soon to see what happens when I take my camera into the woods for Tales and Trails Forest School's new website...
Thank you x
Annushka Russell - Professional family photography and brand imagery for small businesses.