Make Every Day Portrait Day, Part I

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How to Take Great Photos of Kids With a Smartphone

While it would be nice to have a professional photographer perpetually on hand to capture those  precious family moments, it’s just not going to happen, unless, perhaps, your last name is Jolie-Pitt.

Don’t let the absence of paparazzi cramp your style. You’ll be amazed at what you can capture with just that smartphone in your hand. In this post, we’ll share five ideas for getting the most out of your smartphone camera.

5 Tips for Taking Great Smartphone Pictures


Tip 1: Keep it Clean

It may seem a bit obvious, but the first step to successfully photographing your kids is to clean all those sticky fingerprints (and germs!) off your phone. Most office supply stores sell disposable wipes designed for tablets and smartphones. If your lens is particularly grubby, use a soft, clean microfiber cloth to remove those little smudges. And if it’s really gunky, dip a cotton swab in distilled water and gently wipe the lens and then gently dry it with a microfiber cloth. Be careful when using liquids, though! Too much of a good thing can ruin your phone.

 

Tip 2: Know Thy Phone

Take a moment to use the features on your phone’s camera. Tap the screen to focus on your subject and get speedy-quick at doing so. Yes, your phone will autofocus, but if you’re the director you’ll be much happier with the exposure and composition of your shots if you tell your phone where to look. Speaking of exposure, if you have a High Dynamic Range (HDR) function on your phone, use it. But use it wisely. Basically, instead of taking one image at one exposure, your super-smart phone is snapping three images and spitting out the one that looks the best. As your phone is working triple-time, though, it may take a fraction of a second longer for the camera to process. If your kid is in action, you may want to set HDR to auto or turn it off altogether.

 

Tip 3: Ditch the Flash

Here’s a secret about smartphone flashes: they’re not really flashes. With old-school SLR cameras, flashes are designed to freeze the action and light the scene with appropriate levels of brightness. The LED eye of your phone fails at both functions. Smartphones have come a long way, and often you can adjust brightness levels when you edit your photos. On those occasions where you’re really in the dark and the flash is the only way to go? Go for it.

 

Tip 4: Get Close

Forget that your phone’s camera even has a zoom feature, that’s what editing and cropping is for. In fact, most smartphone cameras excel at close-ups, so step in. Unlike traditional camera lenses, where depth of field becomes a challenge, cell phone lenses are designed to make most of a close situation, keeping your target and his or her surroundings evenly focused.

 

Tip 5: Edit and Delete

Hitting the shutter is pretty addictive. But, you really don’t need to post five pictures of your kid catching butterflies to Facebook. At the end of each day, scroll through your treasure-trove of pictures, delete the truly awful ones and crop the great ones. Forget the gimmicky filters, but do play around with light and color saturation. You may be surprised with the level of detail and depth of color you can achieve.