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5 Tips to Help You Take Better Family Photos with your Smartphone - Part One

The best camera is the one you have with you. Sure, DSLR cameras take higher quality photos - but they’re bulky, heavy and valuable. Your smartphone is ALWAYS with you and is great for capturing your authentic everyday family moments.

A few weeks ago my iPhone was involved in a tragic boccaccini brine accident and was replaced by a cheap and cheerful Samsung A50. I was amazed by how far smartphone camera technology has come over the past few years. And while it won't take high-resolution print-quality photos, it can take beautifully sharp and colourful images that are perfect for sharing with my friends and family who live an ocean away.

I’ve been experimenting for a few weeks now, and wanted to share a few tips and tricks to getting the most out of your smartphone camera.

Three children holding hands
Photo taken with Samsung A50 smartphone

Flash is not your friend

Turn off the flash function then pretend it doesn’t exist.

The LED ‘flash’ on your smartphone creates harsh and unflattering light that creates washed out images. Instead, make use of any available light by moving playtime into the light. If it’s dark, just enjoy the moment. If you absolutely must use your flash, soften the light by holding a napkin over the flash - sounds weird but it works.

Clean the lens

Use the inside of a cotton t-shirt to clean your lenses regularly.

If the lens on your camera is covered in bamba crumbs, watermelon juice and/or baby snot, your photos won’t be any good. Remember to clean your camera lens with a soft microfiber cloth, or more realistically, the inside of a semi-clean cotton t-shirt.

Don’t use the zoom

Don’t. Just don’t.

Most phones have a zoom function, but don’t use it. While it enlarges the image it also compromises the quality, resulting in grainy, blurry photos. Move around, get close to whoever or whatever your taking photos of. Remember, your phone also has editing features so you can always crop it later.

Take lots of photos

Taking more than one photo maximizes the chances of you capturing just the right moment.

When I’m at the park with my daughter, I often see parents taking photos of their kids doing something adorable. But they only take one! Why? It’s not film, it’s digital! So don't take just one, take twenty. This increases the odds of you capturing just the right expression, pose or moment. And you can always delete the duds afterwards.

Delete the duds

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is this: delete, delete, delete.

You don't need 20 almost identical photos of your child doing that very cute thing. Really you don't! I already suggested you take dozens of photos of them; but when you're done, look carefully at the photos you've just taken, choose a couple of the best ones and DELETE THE REST!

It might not come naturally at first, and you will probably feel like you're erasing precious moments of their lives. But I promise you, your photo gallery will be much better and more interesting as a result. And by going through this process called ‘culling’, you will quickly learn to identify what separates a good photo from a dud - which will help you take better photos in the future. Win!

Zeo! These tips should help you begin to master the art of smartphone photography. So get practicing! Then check out part two of this series which is all about composition and light - the backbone of photography.


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