1. Get Real
Thankfully, you no longer need a million dollar camera to take fab photos! You can now capture the magic on your smartphone. Put your phone on silent and take photos of your kids when they’re not aware. Attempt to capture every mood, every expression…crying, pensive, angry, sleeping, lost in their own little world.
2. Find your Appy Place
There are so many great apps out there for editing photos, but my all time favourite is “Snapseed” (which you can download for free). It has a bit of everything. I like to fiddle with the pre-set filters or you can go and do your own particular edits, things like adding a lens blur, ambience, saturation, sharpness, contrast and much more. I like that it allows you to ‘save a copy’ of what you’re doing so you can keep the original, and still save multiple effects easily. Also as you make changes, lightly pressing on the photo will give you a quick look at the original minus your edits.
3. LIGHTS! Camera! Action!
There’s a reason lighting comes first in that famous catchcry. If you don’t have the right light, then you’re wasting your time taking the picture. The ideal light for taking stunning photos is diffused lighting, like on an overcast day – you will get magical shots on a day like that. Another place to take a great photo is when you the photographer, have your back to the window, so the light is shining directly onto your subject. Remember a darkish snap can always be lightened in an app, but you can’t do much with one that’s had the highlights blasted out. You can’t add what’s not there. On the other hand, it’s amazing what you can do with a dark photo. Sometimes you can turn grainy into great with the right app.
4. The Rule of Thirds
Most apps/phones have “divide-into-thirds” grids built into the cropping feature. Position the essential elements in your scene along those lines, to create a composition that is visually more pleasing and natural to the eye. This technique makes positive use of negative space (the empty areas around your subject). Cropping in this way can turn an ordinary photo into something extraordinary.
5. Filters and Artistic Effects
If you’re the creative type, you will find endless apps that can make your photos stand out from everybody else’s. Some apps allow you to make your photo mono and add colour to particular parts. Some create amazing collages, and then there are other apps, which enable you to turn your photos into coffee-table books or gifts for relatives. Check these apps out: Dash of Colour; PhotoWonder; Quickflip (for flipping a photo); FrameMagic; PicFlare, Pixlr and Snapfish.
6. The Art of Culling
This brings me to the topic of digital hoarding. Those 59 photos you took of Little-Miss-Cake-Face, are one day going to bore everyone stupid. The secret IS to take truckloads of photos, and then at the end of each day, CULL CULL CULL! Be RUTHLESS. Get rid of the most obvious ones first. Then go another round, and again and again until it’s down to only the best one for capturing that particular moment. Then take that prize photo into an app and pretty it all up.
In 2013 many of my friends lost their homes to fire in the Blue Mountains. They lost everything, including their photos. I’d encourage you to take those precious photos and keep at least the very best ones on some sort of offsite backup. I use Dropbox, but there are many others that are also free like Google Drive.
8. Handy Tip
If you label your photos in folders by year, keep a folder in that year labelled ‘Best’, then as you periodically upload your photos, take a minute to set aside the very best ones into that folder. Later, when you want to create a slideshow for a 16th or a wedding, you don’t need to go trawling through millions of photos. The “future you” will thank you.
9. Don’t forget to come out from behind the camera!!
Otherwise, your kids look like orphans. In this day and age with selfie-sticks, filters (yeah baby), and automatic timers you can get great photos of you and your kids together.
10. Be mindful of what you put online
There are some real sickos out there and those cute pics of Miss 3 in the bathtub may be better off on your digital photo frame at home than on Facebook or Instagram.
Leonie is mum to two lovely teenage girls. She loves to illustrate, write and be creative in her home in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Leonie has 4 cats and aspires to one day become a crazy cat lady.