I just wrapped up round two of my iPhoneography Class with Highlands Art League, and I'm not going to lie, I may have a little bit of favoritism with this course. iPhoneography is just plain fun, we don't get muddled up with all the settings and buttons involved with a "fancy" camera plus I kind of like the fact that it pushes folks (including myself) to get more creative with the flood of photos we are all pouring into social media these days. Yay for pretty photos! So I thought I'd go ahead and share some tips and tricks I've learned along the way for thoughtful and creative photographic storytelling with my iPhone lens. So here you have it...
Caroline's Top 10 Tips
for Better Mobile Photography
(A.K.A How to Take a Better Photo with your Camera phone)
#1 IDENTIFY YOUR SUBJECT: LOVE WHAT YOU SHOOT
This is a two part tip.
#1 Love what you shoot. Identify what excites you, what takes your breath away what story you long to tell and shoot that. We all can't be Ansel Adams or Anne Leibovitz and they can't be each other. Love what you are shooting and that will come across in the image you capture.
#2 When you are out there taking a photo, take a step back and think about why you are about to capture this image - what is your real subject ? Once you have determined what is making you press the shutter, it instantly becomes easier to show the end viewer what kind of message or emotions you are trying to convey.
#2 FIND THE LIGHT: TAKE A PEEK AROUNd
Light is one of the most important elements of a photograph. Just try to imagine an image without light? Its impossible, right? And the way we work with and use light completely alters not just the quality of our image but also the story we are trying to tell. Hold your phone out in front of you (selfie-style) then spin around the room slowly. Watch and see how the direction of the light source (a window, door, lamp, etc.) changes the look of the image. Can you see it? Lighting changes everything. Sit with the window to your back at lunch next time and see how the light makes your lunch date's eyes sparkle (and it also probably helps to see those cute freckles too). Put them in front of the window and you loose all those details. And it is not just about the direction of where the light is coming from the time of day, the weather and the things the light is reflecting off of, the way the shadows fall all come into play in telling a unique and different story.
#3 USE THE DARK: FIND INTERESTING SHADOWS AND SILHOUETTES
Sometimes the absence of light can be the most compelling storytelling tool. Search for the shadows and silhouettes and let the dark create frames in your images.
#4 PAY ATTENTION TO THE BACKGROUND: SIMPLIFY AND FOCUS
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our subject we are photographing that we don't pay attention to what is going on behind them. If the background is too busy or doesn't add to the story you are trying to tell it can get rather distracting. If you want to photograph your friend and her cute outfit for the day place her in front of a solid colored wall or door. This draws your eye straight to your subject.
Or maybe the background is the story you want to tell. Like the amazing colors and buildings found on the streets of Lima, Peru…
#5 Get Close: Focus in
There is an incredible beauty to be found in the details when you take the time to lean in, shift focus and celebrate the small things. Get close and see what you find.
#6 Step Back: Tell a Larger Story
Stepping back tells a larger story that is oftentimes grounded in place. Your friends happy dance in front of a quaint bed-n-breakfast, the still quiet moment of your pup taking an afternoon siesta on your bed, the limbs of a tree reaching out to shade a bride and groom's closest family and friends on their wedding day… it's all in there. And oftentimes these types of images are not just capturing a scene or a place but also the memory of a feeling you experienced in that place.
#7 Explore Angles: Get Creative
Our viewpoint plays a major role in the story we tell in our images. Photograph a gopher turtle from above and he looks like a wee little guy but put your camera lens all the way on the ground and look up at the fella and he suddenly becomes massive. And a personal favorite of mine is snapping a photo from directly overhead of your subject on a beach cruiser bike, in the winding staircase, in a litter of pups or at the piano with your niece and nephew. Take time to explore angles and determine what works best for your photo story.
#8 Snap Away: click, click, click
If you have even had a photo session with me you know I am a big proponent of clicking away, especially with kids. Snap a few photos of a moment to try and capture that "just perfect expression" then go back and choose which one works best for your story. And keep snapping even after they think you are done. It is oftentimes in those moments that folks relax and you get the real, authentic smiles.
#9 Patiences makes perfect: wait for it
Sometimes I see the photo I want before it gets there; the kids about to leap from the edge of the pool, the sailboat about to make it's way into my view, the baby about to burst into a smile because he thinks it is funny when you cough. I saw it coming. These types of photos don't happen by accident. They happen because you practice patience and you know just the right moment to click. Wait for it.
#10 Be present: celebrate life
All of these images are all little glimpses of life that I was simply present in and paused to capture. The image didn't have to be perfect, but it is a perfect reminder of a moment. I can remember the temperature in each of these photos. The way sun or the night time breeze felt on my skin. The emotion in the air. I can remember it because I lived it. Because I tucked my phone back into my pocket and walked the street, chased a baby on a beach or hopped into a late night pajama dance party with my best friend and her kiddos. Be present. Sometimes the best pictures are captured in our hearts.