During this time of “Safer at Home” & the Covid19 pandemic, I am starting a 3-step challenge to help you up your cell phone photo skills!
While being at home does come with difficulties, it also brings lots of opportunities for you to document this rare time in life when everything seems to have slowed down. There are good memories to document and this challenge is designed to help you capture those memories in an artful & intentional way!
There will be a series of 3 blog posts, each with tips that build upon each other. At the end of the 3rd challenge there will be a prize. To make sure you are entered in the drawing for this prize (a cell phone lens kit!), make sure you participate on Instagram.
*Disclaimer: The following advice is written with families with young children in mind. HOWEVER, all of these tips can easily be applied to photos of anything, anyone, or any furry friend. And remember — your phone has a self-timer if you want to get in the photos, too!
1) Take some photos with the below steps in mind. (Click here to download a memory jog graphic for your phone!)
2) Post your favorite photo to your instagram and use the hashtag #sspphonephotochallenge
**If your instagram account in private, please send me a DM after you post and I will make sure I am following you on instagram. (If you have a private account and I’m not following you, I won’t be able to see your photos, and you won’t be entered into the drawing to win the phone lens kit!).
Challenge #2 will come in a few days and will build upon what you’ve learned in Challenge #1!
Sometimes your lens can get foggy or gunky without us even realizing it! Wipe your lens with a soft cotton cloth or t-shirt.
Your phone’s flash will really flatten the visual dimension of your photo, so turn it off.
When taking photos inside, turn off all over head lights or lamps. This is very important! It prevents weird shadows on faces & necks. It also helps with color balance – lights in our homes usually affect skin tones in negative ways.
Windows with soft, bright light are your best friends! Harsh light can sometimes create weird shadows. If you have harsh light coming through your window, you can easily soften or “diffuse” it with sheer white curtains OR a white bed sheet taped to the window. (Tip: use painters tape so not to damage your walls.)
The rule of thirds tells us that, whenever you divide an image into a grid with 9 squares, our eyes will find the image more interesting when important compositional elements line up with one of the lines or intersection points.
Imagine placing a tic-tac-toe grid on top of the photo you are about to take. This will help you envision the rule of thirds, and line up the important compositional elements in your frame with the grid. Keep this idea in the back of your head always when taking a photo, and eventually it will become second nature.
In art, rules are sometimes meant to be broken. Sometimes it is fine to break this rule —but practicing it will enhance your photos. Below are three examples of photos that follow the rule of thirds guidelines:
Baby’s eyes are lined up with the far left vertical line.
Baby sitting in the sink lines up with the far right vertical line. The sink faucet lines up closely with the left vertical line.
Boy’s head is close to the top horizontal line. Boy intersects with left vertical line. Man’s hand intersects with right vertical line
If you are taking photos outside – remember golden hour is the best time of day. Depending on the skyline of your location, afternoon golden hours start anywhere from 1-3 hours before sunset and lasts until about 15 minutes after sunset. Morning golden hour starts right before sunrise and lasts for 1-3 hours, depending on the tree/building lines around you.
If you are taking photos in the middle of the day – look for even shade to avoid weird shadows on faces.
The angle of light is impactful. Open up the camera on your phone and walk around your subject looking at how the light changes as you change angles. Though I often photograph my clients with windows or sunlight directly behind them, most cell phone cameras do not handle that set up well. For this reason, I suggest photographing your subject with the window or sunlight coming in from the side or front. Make sure you don’t put your body directly between your subject & the light source — this will cause a shadow.
iPhone peeps – if you have portrait mode – use it! Portrait mode does focus slower. So if you are working with a fast moving subject, portrait mode may be something you decide not to use.
These steps are written for iPhone users, although I’m sure android users will have similar options.
When in camera mode, tap your subject on the screen to select where the camera focuses. To make the image lighter or darker (aka: adjust exposure), drag the little sunshine icon up or down. The sunshine appears after you tap your subject to focus.
This is supposed to be:
a chance to create
a chance to focus on the people and things you are grateful for
time for you to do something for yourself that you will thank yourself for later
an exercise to improve your cell phone photography skills
a practice in seeing the possibility to capture a sweet memory in an artistic way throughout your day
Photos are not “right” or “wrong”. They are an expression of a moment in time. As a photographer, there are some photo situations I can control completely, and there are other photo situations where I can only control how I respond to the situations around me. If you are working with young children or toddlers, you may need to release some control & respond creatively with your camera
If you need some help, an extra set of eyes during this challenge, or a professional opinion — DM me!!