With lots of our customers ordering bags for holidays, we thought we would ask a professional photographer for some tips on taking great images using just your mobile phone.
Having to take a great many pictures of our bags for the website, Facebook and Instagram it's also a subject we were eager to learn more about.
Lou Wilkes, a professional photographer based in Leicestershire, kindly agreed to write a guest blog sharing some handy tips on taking great images with just your mobile phone......
A photographer giving tips on using phone cameras? Especially one as passionate as I am about the value of quality images that should be printed and not just stored digitally! Well, not everyone has a “fancy” camera or if you do, you might not want to take it away on holiday with you. So if you’re using your phone to capture memories of your upcoming holiday, I want to help you get the best images that you possibly can.
Before you even go away on holiday, first make sure that you have enough space on your phone to fill it with images of your days out, selfies on the beach, delicious food and crazy cocktails. If you haven’t already, set up a cloud device that will back up your photos whilst you are away - you can set it up to sync your photos overnight or whenever you’ve got the best wifi signal! Picture the scene… 2 days of your holiday left, you’ve got a fabulous mix of memories stored on your phone and your darling 3 year old decides to watch Peppa Pig in the splash pool… you get where I’m going.
FIND YOUR LIGHT
More often than not, you’ll be taking pictures during the day and whether you’re in sunny Spain or beautiful Barbados, the sun is strong and harsh for most of the day. Harsh sunlight will create dark, unflattering shadows on the faces of your family. Always try and place your subject with the sun behind them as this will first and foremost avoid squinty eyes. Most smartphones now have the option for you to click on the screen and select the subjects. Then with a bit of magic, it will automatically adjust the exposure across the overall scene to balance it out. If the picture you want to take is front lit (meaning the sun is behind you holding the phone and directly onto your subject) then just a slight tilt and change of angle can make all the difference.
In this image of my little boy, you can see dark shadows on his face as the sun is directly shining on his face. A simple shuffle to the right, putting the sun behind us and him in a little shade and he has a much softer light over his face.
BLAH TO BLUR
The reason for blurry images is usually down to poor light or by zooming in too far. Phone cameras can be great, but if the conditions aren’t right or you’re too far away from your subject matter, you just won’t get the picture you have in your head. Try to be as close to your subject as possible, especially if it’s a wriggly toddler! And as much as phone flash can be harsh and can distort the colours in your image, that can be easily corrected to a point with plenty of free editing software apps. Blur, on the other hand, cannot be unblurred!
INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, PRINT…
Think about what you actually want to do with your pictures? I have 5 lenses that I use with my camera and each offers me a different perspective on a scene. It’s much the same when using your phone. If you only want to take pictures of the landscape using panoramic format - that’s not really going to work so well on your Instagram account.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of taking pictures during your holiday, then seriously consider making up an album when you get home. There’s nothing nicer than sitting down and going through photos of special occasions. There are loads of affordable apps and sites that make it super easy to format your favourite pictures into an album - photobox, snapfish, vistaprint. Just ensure you check your camera settings to ensure that you’re saving your pictures in the best quality possible.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Try and look at what you’re photographing from a different perspective. When all other tourists are standing in front of the stunning Cathedral taking a picture head on, have a wander around and look up and down. Taking pictures looking up at a tower with a clear or cloudy sky as a backdrop can be far more interesting. Look for quirky details and features or even contrasting textures to make your pictures stand out a little more. Using reflective surfaces for a different perspective is also fun; mirrors, glasses, metallic surfaces and windows are great to use. Even puddles can be used to add reflection into an image - great if you’re somewhere not so sunny!
LET THEM PLAY
When you’ve got children, especially little ones, one of the best things to do is to get down to their level. As a family photographer, I’ve spent hours on the floor, crawling around and chasing children and this is when you get the best and most natural images of them. Asking or bribing kids (or adults!) to pose, behave or sit nicely for a picture… will almost ALWAYS backfire. Just let them play, let them do their own thing and capture them in their most comfortable environment which is when they are allowed to be themselves.
TO POSE OR NOT TO POSE?
One of the great things about going away on holiday is experiencing different cultures, foods and environments. Take a time out and go and sit in a coffee shop for half an hour and just observe the world around you through your phone camera. A bustling street in a big City or a lazy little Village can provide tons of documentary-style images. This is also a great way to photograph your family and friends, by being far more candid in your image taking. You’ll get much nicer and more natural images with far more genuine emotions and connections between your family.
There are so many apps available out there to use with your camera, instead of your phone camera and by playing around you can turn a fairly mundane image into a cute or funny little clip or moving image. I love Boomerang - it’s quick and easy to use and easy to use with social media.
GET IN THE PICTURE BUT BE IN THE MOMENT
Make sure that you get group and family pictures and that you’re IN them! I am terrible for this, mostly because I don’t like having my picture taken and I am RUBBISH at taking selfies! Just remember, you’re taking images because you want to record special memories to look back on and when it comes to family pictures, they are always better when they are complete! However, as much as you want to record the memories and fun of your holiday or day trips this Summer, sometimes it’s just as important to be in the moment too. So once in a while, put the phone down and get involved. My two children find themselves in front of my “big” camera A LOT so they often ask me not to take pictures. And I know for sure that they enjoy the moments more when I join in!
Have a great Summer and if you want any more information or advice, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .