People always talk about how important it is to capture your children each year as they grow. And while I know it’s true, it’s also just plain obvious. You love seeing your kids grow each year and how much they change. We all know how important it is to look back and see their growth. From that first day of school photo at your front door to the last day of school. But what about just the two of you whether you have kids or not?
Recently, I personally experienced the importance reflecting back through the years in my photos. It was super fun, but I really wish I had a photo to represent each of our early years. I’ve learned it’s never too late to start. I have vowed to have a professional photo taken of Aldo and I every year, so that in 20 years or 50 years, I have images that we can look back on, laugh at and talk about what babies we were.
It occurred to me while celebrating our 14th Anniversary, how important capturing each year is. I don’t know if you saw it on my social media channels, but I posted a photo of each year Aldo and I have been together – all the way back to 2007 and even one from what I call the early years because I wasn’t sure of the date. We were such babies! But I couldn’t find very many photos of us earlier than 2007, and you know why? It’s because we didn’t start taking our Holiday Portraits until 2007. Yes, I’m sure that we have photos during that time, but where are they? Who knows and they sure as heck are not as cute as the ones we had professionally done.
I share this with you because I don’t want you looking back in 14 years wishing you had taken professional photos. There’s nothing better than proudly sharing your life with your friends and family, no matter the style or look that you were rocking at the time. When I was looking back at our photos, I was like, “Wow, I just dated myself, lol.” But I am still so very happy to have them so I can reflect back on the wonderful years I’ve shared with the love of my life. I’m even more excited that I have current ones that represent us as a couple, showing our relationship and style.
Every time I see your updates on Facebook or Instagram or you send me an email, I get super excited to see what adventures you have been up to lately. Was it a new job, a new house, are you expecting, your first, second, or maybe even your third child? Did you get a new puppy? Take any fun travel adventures? Did your kids start their first year of school? That’s been a fun one for me since it’s that time of year. Watching you all post your minis with their first day of school signs…just the cutest! This got me thinking … obviously, in addition to wanting professional photos you want to be able to take great photos on your day-to-day adventures. So, I wanted to share a few fun tips with you on how to best capture these precious daily moments with your mobile phone. Whether it’s travels, your kids first day of school, or a special moment between the two of you, you’ll want to capture them all!
Make sure you have a subject
The same composition rules apply even if you aren’t photographing people. Be sure that you have a focal point or main point of interest to grab the viewer’s attention. Remember the rule of thirds and put that focal point in one of those sweet spots.
One interesting subject is all you need to create a stunning photo, but we understand that sometimes you want multiple people in the image and that works just as perfect.
Don’t be afraid if your photo has a lot of empty space. This is what us photographers call “negative space” and it’s helpful in making your subject stand out.
Be sure to look at all details. Is there a trash can or water bottle in the shot? Move it. Can’t move it? Change the angle of your shot to avoid it.
A subtle muted background keeps the photo from becoming too distracting. Make sure the background complements the color of what the subject is wearing so they don’t blend in.
Find the best light
Lighting is the most important thing in any photo. The best kind of lighting is soft, natural, diffused light, such as window lighting. The same rules apply for outdoor photos … soft natural diffused light. The best time of day to shoot is what professional photographers call the golden hour. Either early morning just as the sun is coming out or just before sunset. In my line of work with weddings, we understand these situations aren’t always achievable on the go. So, look for soft evenly shaded areas. Again, be aware of your background. If it’s too light or too dark, your subject will get lost. Avoid harsh shadows and shooting the subject facing the sun. This will produce squinting eyes and unwanted shadows. Also beware of too dark of areas. All too often we see subjects being photographed in dark dingy corners where they tend to get lost.
Our eyes can determine both dark and light exposures at the same time, but the camera cannot. Ever have a subject with the beach as the background and either the beach is properly exposed but your subject is too dark or the subject is correct and the beach is blown out? This is because the camera can’t capture what we see with the naked eye. Most mobile phone cameras will capture everything overall and guess at what the best mix will be. This means if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll won’t get the photo you’re aiming for. Try tapping on the main subject to achieve the best exposure. Sometimes, though, even that won’t work. In that case, you’ll need to rethink your background and lighting situation. Look for that open soft shade or window lighting.
Focus on the eyes
It’s been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. They are also a great part of your subject to focus on when you’re trying to capture them at their best. It’s because the eyes are the most expressive part of the face. Ready take it one step further? Focus on the eye closest to the camera.
Experiment with different perspectives and cropping. A common mistake is always putting the subject directly in the center of the frame.
You don’t have to always center your subject. Learn the rule of thirds. Try an angle from above or below. Set your subject off centered.
Photographing children is always a challenge, sometimes even more so when mom and dad are doing it. We recommend getting down on their level. Get low, talk to them, engage with them. Make them laugh and wait for that perfect expression that best expresses their personalities. This is where you have an advantage, because you know them best. You know that expression right before it happens, so be ready to click. If you try to force smiles or make them stand stiff and still that’s the look you’ll get. Put them in the right lighting with the right background and let them be them. You’ll know when to capture that perfect moment.
The #1 rule when photographing anyone is to stay positive and give lots of affirmation that the subject looks amazing. If your kids are making funny faces, make them back. I promise it will make them laugh and if you’re ready, you’ll capture the perfect smile. With couples, the same thing applies – OK, maybe not the funny faces, but you never know … that might work, lol. Just keep it upbeat and positive and you’ll get that emotion you desire. I have to make Aldo sincerely laugh anytime we take a photo, otherwise he looks like a grumpy old man! I do this by any means necessary – being a goof ball, tickles, stupid jokes, whatever – but it works, we manage to get some awesome smiles out of him. Also remember you don’t always have to smile for portraits!
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get great photos…and remember, the best camera you can have is the camera you have with you! Don’t be afraid to experiment. You’re mobile camera is digital, so if you don’t like the image you can delete it and try again!