Most of us are taking daily photos on our cell phones. Being such an integral part of our lives, I thought I would share some of my favorite photography tips and tricks with you so you can easily improve your photos.
Tip 1: Add or Move Towards the Light
This is the hands-down most important tip for improving your photography: you need good light! You can’t record a photograph with no light, and it’s difficult to get a good photograph if there is little light, so make sure to take your photos somewhere where there is a lot of light (or at least as much light as possible in your environment).
If you’re in a dim room you may need to turn on more lights or move to a different room.
Sometimes the difference between a good photo and a great photo is flicking some lights on, opening some curtains, stepping outside, or standing by a window.
Avoid using your flash and find natural light sources whenever possible.
These two photos are both taken on a cell phone at the same spot. On the left photo I took the photo with a few house lights on but it was still too dim and the photo is blurry and dark as a result. In the photo on the right, the only change I made was opening our front door nice and wide which added more light into the room.
Tip 2: Watch the Light
Now that you have created/identified a light source, pay attention to how it is landing on your subject. Imagine a large window during the day.
If the window is behind your subject their face will shadow over and there won’t be much light on their face.
If the window is to the side of your subject, they will have one side of their face bright and one side of their face in shadow.
If the window is in front of your subject their eyes will light up and their face will have little to no shadowing.
The above photos are on a manually set DSLR but on a cell phone things work differently, especially when the light is behind you (the face tends to be even darker). Here is another comparison taken on cell phone.
(In the third photo the window isn’t directly in front of her, it’s more 90 degrees.)
Tip 3: Reconsider Flash
There are no high-end DSLRs that I know of that have a built-in flash. They create harsh shadows and little dots in the eyes (called pinhole catchlights) as well as hurt your subject’s eyes. Sometimes flash is needed but if there’s an alternative such as a window, try using that instead.
Tip 4: Play Around
Watch for interesting light and shadows and pay attention to how it affects how someone looks. The next five photos were taken with light to the side of the subject.
And these photos below were taken with light in front of the subjects.
As you can see, light is an essential component to how your photos turn out. Next time you want to photograph your kids, simply try opening some curtains or turning on a lamp and then pay attention to how the light is landing on their faces and your photos will be visually improved!