We are in the age of technology. When something new, interesting, exciting, fun, etc. happens, we often want to share it with our friends and family – typically through social media.
When my twins were born it didn’t take long for me to become a bit of a momtographer (mom photographer). I would toss a blanket over a couch for a backdrop and click click! Then I would add some color to a black and white photo in Photoshop and voila!
My twins are nine now and as such, I have had roughly nine years of self-education. Being self-taught, I have learned everything at my own pace in my home trying fun experiments, practicing, watching YouTube, reading tutorials etc. I remember vividly my most important trial-and-errors and want to share some of those tips in this post!
The best part? The improvement is instant! So many things can impact your photos, and they are simple things you can quickly implement. Paying attention to these few little things can improve your photos – whether you’re snapping a few quick photos on your cell phone, or learning on a DSLR.
Tip 1: Angle/Perspective – Get Creative!
The first thing most people do when they want to take a photo is grab their camera, aim it at whatever it is they want to photograph, and click. This certainly does the job, but there is almost always another way to make the photos more aesthetically pleasing and interesting.
By moving yourself, how you hold your camera, your subject, and/or trying something new you can make a photo have better and more interesting composition.
You can get down to your subject’s level (which is perhaps the best tip when photographing kids). Photos taken from a kid’s level turn out better 95% of the time than standing up because then they will always be looking up at you if you’re standing:
(I was laying on the ground to get that second photo!).
You can also try a downwards angle and other interesting perspectives to get a unique perspective:
Sometimes you don’t have to move yourself at all, but can just angle the camera differently:
Don’t be afraid to play around:
Tip 2: Watch the Background!
If you’re human and like every other mom, there’s almost always a toy or two (or a hundred) in the background. Maybe dishes on the table from lunch. Mail sitting on the bench. Entire backpacks dumped out etc. I always take a photo to capture the moment first and then if there’s time I will move anything in the background/foreground.
Tip 3: Editing
A very simple way to improve your photos is to edit them! Editing is very powerful! A great option is to use the Adobe Creative Cloud or [free] Gimp software. If that sounds too intimidating, you could install a free and easy editing app. The editing apps I use most are Snapseed, VSCO, PhotoDirector, and Instagram’s manual editor – there are countless others as well!
Tip 4: Add Light
To get great photos you need great light. By turning on some more lights or opening some curtains before you start clicking and you will get significantly better images! The best spot to take photos indoors is next to a large window.
Next, watch how the light lands on your subject. If the light is behind them, their face will be shadowed. If the light is beside them, half of their face will be shadowed. If the light is in front of them, their face will be evenly lit with catch lights in their eyes.
Tip 5: Do A Once-Over
Before you take a planned photo, take a moment to look everything over and see if it’s how you want it. The #1 thing that I try to do before taking a photo is wipe off everyone’s faces (I know you feel me on that!). Next I look at hair – are there any stray hairs going wild needing taming? Then I look at clothing – is someone’s shirt half-tucked, is there a stain etc. I consider little details such as are someone’s nails half painted – the kind of stuff that kind of bothers you after you’re looking at the photo later that you didn’t notice while you were taking photos.
Tip 6: Capture the Moment
Even with all these tips the most important thing by far is capturing the moment. If you miss that then none of these tips matter. I always capture the moment first, and then I try to perfect it if I can.Even if there are countless little things you can do while taking a photo to improve its look, capturing the moment is by far the most important!
This is one of my favorite photos even though it’s out of focus, blurry, the lighting isn’t great, it isn’t edited, there are background distractions, and no one is dressed up or anything, but it’s a candid real moment of my kids having fun together and I couldn’t care less about the technicalities of the photo!
Phew. That was a lot of tips, I know, and most of it doesn’t come naturally either – we get used to picking up a camera and clicking without thinking much about the details, but once you become aware and start to practice them, it becomes more natural.
My advice? When possible, find good light, use a clear background, wipe down faces, do a once-over on the clothing, take some photos, try some interesting angles, and then edit. Capture the moment above everything else. Then share your moments with your family and your friends.
If you have any additional ideas and tips be sure to share them in the comments!