With the holidays fast approaching, many are thinking about events, family gatherings, and preparing dinner menus. How many of you are thinking about how to get better family photos with your phone?
Cell phones have incredible cameras in them. Just take a look at the iphone 11 pro or iphone 11 to see why. And, there is a debate in the photography industry regarding the quality of an image taken with an iphone and one taken with a DSLR. We are not here to debate that, but rather help you create better images with the camera that you have. The foundational tips are relevant no matter what camera you have. And the basic principles will work just fine with your iphone or android phone camera.
The two main topics to think about are the available light you have to work with and how to pose your subjects.
Taking images with any phone involves light. After all, photography is defined as painting with light. And, light has three important characteristics: brightness, color and temperature.
Have you ever taken an image with only one or two lamps lighting the room? Do your images have a yellow cast to them? That yellowishness has to do with the temperature and color of the light that is in those bulbs.
Here is the very scientific definition of light- Light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye. The wavelengths that make up light are perceived as different colors with long wave lenghts perceived as red and short ones violet. In between you have the oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and indigos.
White light is a combination of many wavelengths and often these wave lengths many not be evenly distributed so you will see a color cast. As in the example above, normal incandescent lighting is weighted toward the orange red spectrum and fluorescent lights have a green cast. So, you see yellow with interior home shots and greenish blue for any shots taken under fluorescent lighting.
The color cast of a light can be expressed as a temperature on the Kelvin scale. Kelvin in photography is a unit of measurement that measures the temperature in photography. And, the higher the number, the bluer the light. For example, an overcast day is measured at about 9000 kelvin, while daylight balanced (which is a good place to be) is about 5600. A candle is measured at about 2000 k and provides a yellow cast.
So, as you can see, it is not what we might be used to thinking in terms of "heat". We are not measuring the hot or cold aspect of it, as in a fire-which emits a lot of heat and is usually yellow and orange in color. With Kelvin, yellow and orange is actually lower on the temperature scale than blue.
So, the first thing to look for is the light. What kind of light is in the room? If you have a lamp that will produce a yellow cast, take out those bulbs and put in LED ones, or get more light in the room.
The second thing to look for is the direction of the light. Is the light coming from above, the side, or behind? If it is coming from behind, turn your subjects faces toward the light so their faces will not be dark. Is it coming from above? If so, you might get "racoon eyes" as the light from above will cast a shadow under the eyes. Have your subjects tilt their faces upward toward the light and stand on a chair to photograph them from above. And, if the light is coming from the sides, find a light to put in front of your subjects to "fill" in their faces. Or, if possible, move your subjects so they are facing the light coming from the sides.
You can see the shadow on my granddaughter's face as the light was coming from above.
The second thing to think about is posing. How is everyone sitting? How are they standing?
Most of the time, when it is time for pictures, everyone gathers in a straight line and puts their arms around each other. Which is ok. But, you can do so much more to create a pleasing photograph. Depending on your environment, you can have some sitting on the couch, some standing behind leaning toward the front, some sitting on the arm rests, and some even sitting on the floor.
Think about this-
1. Do not have your subjects straight on toward the camera-they will look wide.
2. Angle your subjects away from the camera to the left or the right and have them turn their chin toward the camera.
3. Look for ways to create "triangles" with your subjects. By posing your subjects on different levels, you can create a more pleasing photograph and have their "heads" be the "points" of a triangle.
4. Take your image from a different angle-from above, the side, or even below depending on who is in the photograph and what look you are trying to achieve.
5. People have shape, so position them in such a way that their shape will show rather than having them all just stand up in a straight line.
subjects are close to each other-see the angles and shape?
Do you see the triangle that is formed with their faces in the above image?
See the triangles? See how posing standing subjects can look better?
When you are gathered together with your loved ones and ready to take some images, the most important thing to capture is the expression and connection of the subjects. The technical aspects are very important, too, but I try to not miss any incredible moments with my clients even if they are not posed right, or the lighting is not as good as it could be. Sometimes, you just have to get that shot because a brother reached over to kiss his sister without being asked, or a mom touched her daughter's face and told her she loved her. Those are the most important moments and should be captured regardless of the lighting or posing.
But, when you are at your holiday gathering, remember these tips about lighting and posing, and you will have a much better outcome with your family photos.
If you want more tips, just give us a call, or send us an email and we can help!