Tips for Taking the Best Family Holiday Photo with Your Cell Phone
Our dos and don’ts will help you avoid common mistakes
’Tis the holiday season, and this means everyone will soon be whipping out their phone to take pictures of family and friends gathered round food-laden tables, in front of the Christmas tree, or outdoors with the new puppy. And while cell phone cameras make it easier than ever to capture treasured moments, there’s still plenty that can go wrong. Sun glare, distracted infants, uncooperative pets. You get the idea.
So to help ensure that you’ll want to treasure, not delete, the photos you take this holiday season, we reached out to a pro for some advice—Cydney Scott, senior photojournalist with BU Photography. Her award-winning photography appears in BU Today daily.
With the help of some willing Marketing & Communications staff and interns, Cydney offers some tips to keep in mind.
Tip #1: Pay attention to where your natural light is coming from
Avoid placing people in front of windows since this creates uneven light.
Tip #2: Get closer
Create some visual interest by having people at different levels instead of all in a row.
Get physically closer to the people you’re photographing rather than using the phone to zoom in. Zooming in causes pixelation.
Tip #3: Change your perspective
When looking to capture some candid moments, play with perspective by getting up high or snapping from a lower angle. This makes for a more interesting visual.
Tip #4: Be a fly on the wall
Candid photos make for great storytelling memories. Having a game night? Bring your camera down low so faces are seen and wait for the moment to happen.
Tip #5: No antlers, please!
When taking portraits, keep an eye out for things in the background that could make it look like a lamp or a plant is growing out of your subject’s head. A small step to your left or right will usually solve the problem.
Tip #6: Pay attention to camera height
When taking a group photo, like this one, hold your camera slightly lower than chin-height to minimize distortion.
Tip #7: Guard against sun flare
When taking pictures outdoors, be aware of where the sunlight is coming from. Otherwise you’ll get glare. To avoid lens flare (seen at left), shade your lens from the sun with your free hand (see below for visual proof).
Tip #8: Look for shade
To avoid squinting faces and your own shadow in the photo (left) your subjects should be in shade for even light (right).
A few more things to consider…
If your group photos include babies or pets, ask everyone else in the photo to pay attention to the camera, not to the child, dog, cat, etc. This allows the photographer to get the attention of the child or animal being photographed and gives the best chance of getting a picture where everyone’s looking at the camera.
Always use the front-facing camera on your phone rather than selfie mode, since you lose image quality when using the back-facing lens.
Want to share photos with friends and family? If you’re sending just a few, email, don’t text them. When you text your photos, resolution size is reduced and the image loses quality.
Last, capturing those fun holiday moments is great, but don’t forget to put the camera down at some point and join the fun, too!