Hi Friends! It looks like we will be hanging out at home during the Covid-19 pandemic for quite a while. I’ve been thinking of ways to serve my clients during this time. If you’re here and reading my blog post, we already know that you guys value pictures of your kiddos. Let’s chat a little bit about how to take great pictures of your kids with your iphone at home. In the midst of the chaos, our children are enjoying their time with their parents and soaking it all up. If your kids are old enough to remember this, they’re not going to remember the pandemic. They’re going to remember long walks as a family, baking, learning at home, playing outside, and extra time with their family. I think we should have beautiful photographs to capture those memories! I want to remember that we survived on popsicles, baking, and the great outdoors!
Snap Shots Versus Portraits | How to Take Great Pictures of your kids with your iPhone at Home
If I’m being honest, I tend to be guilty of only using my phone for quick “snap shots,” but I’m going for a bit of a mindset shift here. The latest iPhones today are capable of so much more. A snap shot is what I have deemed a “fast” photo. It’s what we always do– we grab our phone, take a quick picture without a whole lot of attention to detail, and then we move on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with snap shots as they definitely serve their own purpose. Basically, snap shots are “easy” and I think we’ve all got that down, right? Instead of snapshots, I’m going to try to be a bit more intentional and use my phone for portraits. Portraits to me are something that you would love to print as a keepsake, maybe even hang on your walls. It is a little more polished with composition and lighting in mind.
Step One: Simplify
I know, y’all. I’m preaching to the choir right? If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I like simple and decluttered photographs. That totally applies here as well. The easiest way to do that is to declutter the background of your image by cleaning up toys, putting things away, etc. The goal is to bring the viewers eyes to your subject, not what is going on in the background. For example, when I shot the images for the educational activities post, the very first thing I did was to clean up the game room! (Yes, it was totally a hot mess!)
If you want to take pictures of you cooking with your children, just make sure there are no extra distractions in the sink. For example, a sink full of dishes doesn’t add to the cookie baking experience and will be a distraction.
Step Two: Lighting
In my professional work, lighting and clothing are the two things that can make or break a portrait. For the sake of these, I’m going to (*cringe*) let go of the clothing and focus on lighting. The key to a great portrait is always the lighting. Indoors, this can be a bit tricky, especially if you don’t have a lot of natural lighting in your home. The first thing you’ll want to do is turn off all your indoor overhead lighting. Then, open your blinds or shutters and pull them all the way up. You want to let in as much light as possible. If that doesn’t give you a lot of extra light, you’ll want to turn your subject to face the closest window. That will illuminate their face and take them out of the shadows.
If your windows are not providing enough light, you can turn your overhead lights back on. Be aware that indoor lights tend to give off a yellow-ish color which will alter the color of your photographs. This link on white balance will help you adjust that! Personally, I installed “white” lights so that I can turn them on as needed. I’m just not a fan of the color of normal indoor lights.
If you are shooting outside, the best time of day to do this is the hour before sunset. It gives you a beautiful golden glow, especially if you position the setting sun behind your child or subject! (If you’re thinking about doing bluebonnets, I definitely suggest getting out there at sunset!) Otherwise, I suggest finding a nice shady spot for an outdoor portrait! Direct sunlight can create some really funky shadows on your face. We are looking to create nice, even lighting by shooting in the evening or in the shade.
Step Three: Angles
Have you noticed that photographers get pretty low to the ground when we take pictures of your kids? That’s because your kids are little! The best way to take a traditional child’s portrait is to get down on their level.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ever shoot from above, but there is most definitely a time and place for it! In fact, different angles can add variety and interest to your photographs. If I am photographing my kiddos playing with chalk outside, I might take a portrait over their heads of them coloring with chalk in addition to a photograph at their level. Try to mix it up a bit!
Step Four: Straight Lines
Ok, this is the easiest and most difficult tip of them all! When you are shooting, be mindful of the lines in your portrait! The horizon behind your subject should be straight. The ground, should be straight. People stand up straight! They should not go diagonally across your portrait! Now, here’s the thing. That sounds super easy, but even professional photographers don’t take perfectly straight photos. 😉 No matter how hard I try, I end up literally straightening every image. The good news is that you can easily straighten your lines in the editor built into your phone! Just open your photos app, select the image, and push the crop button. You will see a slider along the bottom to straighten the image.
Step Five: Test Portrait Mode
Unpopular opinion alert: I don’t love portrait mode. I feel like it blurs the wrong things sometimes which ends up looking strange. Other times, I think it looks great! I think the best thing you can do is try it out both ways to see what works best for you! I personally very rarely use it!
Step Six: Lightroom and Presets
This is for those of you who are a little more advance and want that bright/professional look! Presets will give your images that polished look! You will need Lightroom Mobile and your favorite mobile preset. You might be able to find a free preset, but my favorites are from Katie Lamb and this Light and Airy preset from Jane Colors.
Once you take your photos, you’ll just open them in Lightroom, apply your preset, and you’re ready to go!
This is so silly, but that trampoline shot of Bree is probably my favorite of the bunch! It totally captures her silliness AND her constant need to be extra close to mom! I hope that you guys go learned a few things, and have a little fun with your phones today! If you need any help, you know where to reach me! (Lightroom and setting up the presets is a bit tricky, but I’m here to help!) Also, I promise not to take iPhone photos with your kids family this fall! I’ll pull out the trusty Nikon! 😉
Bonus: Dive deeper into learning about composing your images here!