While it would be great to have your DSLR handy when you’re on your next trip, we all know that sometimes it’s just easier to leave it at home (or in your hotel room). So if you’re stuck with a smartphone the next time you’re photographing your kids we have a few tips to help out:
Remember the Rules
Just because you’re working with a cell phone camera, rather than the real thing, doesn’t mean that you throw all the rules out the window. The two most important to consider is your focal point and using the rule of thirds. Combining these two rules will help to make your photos more memorable.
For backgrounds, keep a weather eye on the horizon and avoid putting it through the middle of the frame.
Keep it Clean
The convenience of a cellular phone means we don’t treat them with quite the same reverence as we would professional camera equipment. Being jumbled around at the bottom of pockets, purses, and camera bags means that your “camera” might not be in the best shape for shooting when you pull it out.
Keep a good lens cleaning cloth handy, and some cleaning solution back at your room. It can also help to have your iPhone protected in a good case, so your lens stays in tip-top shape.
Maintaining a steady grip will help to reduce blur – so hold your phone with both hands. With an iPhone, you can use one of the volume buttons to snap a photo rather than tapping the screen.
Invest in Apps
There are a few apps that can help you get better photos of your kids – at home and when travelling. Camera+ is one ($2.99) – it lets you adjust exposure and focus as well as providing post-processing tools. If you like letting your kids take the reins when taking photos while travelling check out First Camera (free), which lets them snap away without filling up your camera roll. For widescreen shots, Photosynth (free) will let you take multiple shots and easily stitch them together.
Use Kids for Scale
You might prefer a few sweeping landscapes sans-children, but anywhere you are dealing with something that is very grand including your children can help give the scene a sense of size.
It’s all About Angles
Don’t get stuck in a rut when you’re shooting travel scenes with kids, change it up once in a while. Get down on the ground or find something to get up on to create a different point of view.
Bring your (Real) Camera
While your phone can fill in in a pinch, it’s no substitute for the real thing. It can help to have a good travel camera bag (check out the Lowepro Passport Sling) and stick to one or two lenses. If you’re spending a day in a theme park or other large venue, find out if there are lockers you can rent when you need a break from lugging your DSLR around.
Remember to have fun – your family vacation should be primarily about the experience, not just the photos!