Golden Elements Photography

Just an Ocean State Girl Capturing Everyday Magic While Loving Life, Disney, and Golden Retriever Puppies!

Natural Light & Lifestyle Photography


July 7, 2020

Cell-phone photography tips for moms, dads, grandparents, dog-parents, or anyone!

With the invention of high-resolution cameras inside of your smartphone has made it easier than ever to never-miss-a-moment! I am a lifestyle photographer based in Rhode Island and I use my smartphone for quick shots when grabbing my camera just isn’t possible.
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Lighting is THE MOST IMPORTANT element of any image, regardless of the subject. Shooting in proper lighting will ensure your image is sharp & crisp (think high-def), vibrant (bright, bold colors), and noiseless (the tiny dots on an image, typically found on older images that are “blown-up” or images aren’t well lit. Lighting will also add an element of interest and depth giving your viewer a reason to explore the image. 
Our eyes are drawn to the brightest thing by nature, so when you look at an image consider where you look on it first. Is it a face? Is it a color? Is it a smile? In most cases, smartphones have an autofocus feature where you can touch a spot on your screen to help the camera determine where the focus should be. Sometimes with a phone all it takes is touching the screen. Touch the subject in the photo on your screen and it will automatically adjust the exposure and it can compensate for the bright sun. In most cases, if you touch & hold and drag up or down, it should also allow you to adjust the exposure manually.
  • Indoors: Take photos near a window for natural light with your subject facing the light. Avoid using indoor lighting or camera flash at all costs! Flash creates artificial light that will not the white balance of your environment. Artificial light will make your subject look unnatural and weird. It also creates harsh shadows behind the subject.
  • Outdoors: When you’re outside avoid harsh sunlight, if it’s the middle of the day and it’s super sunny, try and find some shade to take photos. The best time of day for photos is called the “golden hour”. It is the first hour after the sun rises and the last hour before the sun sets. That time of day creates a soft and flattering light that is perfect for portraits. Of course, you can’t always plan your day around the “golden hour” and most of the time when you want to take pictures of your kids on your phone it’s spontaneous and there’s no time for staging or posing. Just play around with what angle works best in the harsh sunlight.

Consider the activity. Are they sitting-still or running around? Am I able to get close or do I want to catch the entire scene? In most cases smartphone camera zooms aren’t very good and are essentially magnifying the image, creating a distorted and blurry result. I strongly recommend getting as close to the subject as possible. It’s hard to hold your phone steady which is needed to keep your zoomed-in subject in frame. Zooming on a smartphone is essentially magnified, creating a distorted and blurry result. For capturing images where the subject not moving, I strongly suggest using your smartphone’s PORTRAIT MODE. This creates a shallow depth-of-field, basically it means it focuses the foreground and blurs out the background making your subject sharp and stand out. It also adds a softness to the image making the subject have smooth glowy skin. If you are taking action shots, you will need to be able to see a wider angle. Portrait mode won’t work here.

Be aware of your background. Is grandpa joe sitting in a lawn chair drinking a beer… No judgement. Try switching up the angle including getting low or going high or just getting up and walking around until you think it looks interesting. Get down to their level. Show your viewer what life is like through their eyes.

The key to creating images that make you click like is capturing emotion. Whether it be happy or sad emotion, it will draw your viewer in… even if that viewer is just you. Snap when they aren’t looking. Take pictures when they are deep in thought trying to figure something new out or dancing to their favorite Disney movie. Give them an activity or something to eat. Ask them to interact or play games with each other where they can be silly or even competitive.

This one may seem obvious, but make sure your camera is clean. You’re a busy person, so chances are you probably hand your hand or something else smudge across the lens. ME ALWAYS . Just wipe your camera with a cleaning cloth or at least a soft fabric.

Final Words
Kids are unpredictable and photography is circumstantial. Take many shots of the same exact image, just in case something wasn’t quite focused, or someone blinked. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect, just make sure it makes you smile.

Check it out!  
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More About Me

-I hate coffee...I know, I know.

-I hate reading - have no time for it.

- I am obsessed with golden retrievers.