5 Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your Family (On Your Phone!) This Holiday Season

We all love taking photos of our loved ones and the activites we do together during the holiday season- but why have simple snapshots when you can have pinterest-worthy photos you feel confidant posting and even printing?? Here are my top 5 tips for taking better photos of your people this season! (now a few of my examples are from my DSLR camera- mostly because since I don’t have kids of my own I don’t have those kind of photos on hand! But the same principles can be applied to phones)

Number one- Think about light!

It takes extra time, but once it becomes habit it is easy to take your photos to the next level. Lighting is the MOST important thing when I am doing my sessions. We plan the session time, outfits, everything around the lighting! It can change the mood and quality of the photo so fast. The most important thing is to chase that natural light! If you are outside fantastic! If you are inside, if you can have the subject face or at least be near a window you will get much better lighting than in a room with no windows!

If you are outside and have bright light, face your subject away from the light (sunlight behind them) you will reduce shadows and get a much better looking photo! Shade or cloud cover is amazing too.

Now I know lots of holiday photos are in the moment, and changing their positioning based around light isn’t always practical! Fear not- there are things you can do to still make those photos great!

Taken on DSLR, but I set her up in the shade rather in the sunny spot to avoid harsh shadows

Fill Your Frame- Move Your Feet!

Oftentimes we see something we want to remember and just snap a quick photo. Lots of times this leaves you with a vast amount of “blah” in your frame. By taking a few steps closer and squatting down or raising your phone higher, you can elevate your photo one million times. Think about what you are taking a photo of- what is it that you like about that photo? Now take that part and let it fill your entire screen. Another thing- with little kids our view is often above looking down- if you squat down and get on their level you often capture that emotion way better than from above! Below is an example of filling the frame. My cute niece was laying on a lawn chair after a day at the pool, and instead of snapping one from my height, i brought the phone down and got closer to her cute face. Having her little eyes peeping out from behind the hat has a much bigger effect with her face being close to the camera! Also- DON’T USE YOUR ZOOM. It isn’t like a normal camera’s zoom, it just digitally makes the picture bigger and you loose quality. Move your feet, or if you must, crop the photo after you’ve taken it!

Use Portrait Live Focus Mode

This mode has become amazing in recent phones! It is honestly impressive how well it fakes bokah (blurry background effect) and is getting better at determining the subject and making it clear. It can be hard to use, especially in low light or with a fast moving subject. But if it isn’t moving fast it works very well and makes your photos look like it was taken by a DSLR! Below are some examples of this tool being used on our phones (Galaxy Notes)

Editing Your Photos Goes a LOOOOONG Way

I know it seems like a lot of effort, but it brings that extra bit of magic! The Lightroom app is free, and then I recommend finding some presets that you really like. You can develop your own, but it took me months to understand enough about light room to develop my own. For day to day images, I have loved the recent presets done by Kylee Ann. Her Influencers preset pack is only $35 right now, and comes with 30 presets! Most of the time I am wary of these large packs for a great price, but I got to try these for free being a part of her class and dang! They really are pretty amazing. There are for sure some I will probably never use simply because they aren’t my style, but they really all look amazing in different settings! You will always have to make minor adjustments to nail the photo, but usually just exposure, temp and tint! https://kyleeannphotography.com/mobile-presets

Then a few more simple tips!

Tap on where you want the focus before you take the photo- this will give you the best focus on where you want it.

Use the rule of thirds- put the subject or horizon line (or both!) on a third rather than centered.

Perspective is everything- try taking the photo from a new angle! Lay on the floor, take it from a birds eye view, there are never ending possibilities!

I hope this helps you capture this season in the best way possible! Let me know if any of these tips helped you!

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