I took this picture of my boys at the end of my in-laws driveway, in Arizona, on an overcast day. I always value photos where I can get them both in the frame together and in this particular instant they didn't even know I was taking their picture (I always prefer this route), as they were captivated by the mud beneath their feet. I love that their rain boots tell a story and that the place it's taken is a special one. I love the symmetry that the trees provide. The fog makes for great tones and adds a beautiful degree of mystery. I also like shooting later in the evening, when the sun is low. The last few minutes of light, when the sun falls behind the horizon, is my favorite time to shoot. I only wish it lasted more than a few minutes.
I don't always have my big camera on me and that's precisely what I love about shooting with my phone. In fact, I'd argue that shooting with my phone has made a better photographer in a lot of ways. You can learn a lot about light and exposure just by practicing with your phone. And many of the images I've captured are held dear to my heart because they were taken at a time I didn't anticipate being inspired; times when I didn't necessarily have my 'real' (for lack of better words) camera on me.
Here are some simple beginner tips for taking better photos with your phone:
1. Shoot in landscape mode. This isn’t a setting on your iPhone, rather I’m suggesting you hold your phone horizontal as opposed to vertical when taking a photo. You’ll be able to see the frame better.
2. Experiment with AE/AF lock. It makes focusing easier. I use it some of the time.
3. Shoot by windows or doors. It’s amazing what natural light can do. If the kids are playing, sometimes I’ll set up a trap and plant myself where I want them to go. I’m like a magnet, they always find me.
4. Think about your composition. Ask yourself what’s included in the photo and why. Don’t rely on cropping later, include only what you want in the shot when you shoot it.
5. Take your phone out of your purse. Sure, there’s that fine line of being that annoying mom constantly hiding behind her iPhone snapping shot after shot of her kid instead of just being present in the moment. I get that, I do. Sometimes I like putting my camera down just as much as I like picking it up, so you have to find your own balance and what works for you. What I would encourage, however, is to take your camera out during the seemingly mundane moments. There is so much beauty in the everyday; the morning light when you’re just waking up, your child brushing her hair before school, you husband walking in the door after a long day at work… Everyone remembers the birthday parties and the first day of school, but I’m telling ya, there are beautiful things happening everyday.
6. Take multiple shots of the same subject, espcially when photographing kids. Though I should mention, funny enough, I almost always end up chosing the first photo I take anyway. But insurance feels good, doesn’t it? That’s why we all pay out our butts for car insurance we (hopefully) never use.
7. Try different angles. If I’m photographing my kids, I like to get down to their level. Shoot from above, shoot from below, shoot into the sun, shoot away from the sun. You’ll learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. That’s the beauty in digital, right? Your mistakes are never a waste.
8. Edit your photos. Sure, exposure, lighting, and composition are the main ingredients but editing is the quintessential icing on the cake. Never rely strictly on editing to make an okay photo great. An okay photo will always be an okay photo, in my opinion anyway. I edit almost all my iPhone pics with the VSCO Cam app.
9. Share em’. Join Instagram. Your life will never be the same.
You can see more of Ashley's beautiful work on her blog and on her instagram feed.