A few months ago I was out on a walk with my niece and my sister and a beautiful light started to peek through an otherwise dull day. My adorable niece started giggling and dancing around and I just WISHED I had my gear to capture some images!
Reaching in my back pocket, I pulled out the only camera I had (my iPhone) and started shooting. The photos turned out great because of some basic techniques I was able to use from my training as a photographer.
With an impromptu backdrop and some great outdoor light you can capture beautiful outdoor portraits with only your camera phone. It’s no replacement for my full set up, but in a pinch I was ready! Check out my tips below.
- Use a Great Camera App
There are a handful of camera apps I use consistently on my iPhone. Camera + and Camera Awesome both provide excellent quality tools and are easy to use. There are a ton of built-in effects, but I mostly stick with subtle brightness adjustments and cropping. Pick a great camera app and set it as your default camera on your phone so you don’t have to fiddle with starting it up each time you want to snap a photo.
- Use a Simple Backdrop
Anything with a solid color or consistent pattern in the background will allow you to keep the center of focus on the subject of your photos. It’s also great for creating a series of shots for a video slideshow like the one I put together below. Everything has a consistent look and feel that adds a touch of professionalism to your images!
- Avoid ‘The Pose’ and Shoot Candids
For Candids, cell-phone cameras score over the DSLRs by being unaggressive and friendly. The tell-tale sign that you’re lining someone up to photograph them is putting the camera up to your eye level. So if you don’t want them to think that, leave the camera low.
One way to be seen yet ignored is to take the time to blend into the background. What I do is find somewhere out of everyone’s way and stand or sit for a few minutes. It doesn’t take long before I become part of the scene. Less of a deception but relying on a shift of attention away from you is to wait till your subject’s attention is distracted by something else. Here it’s handy to have a friend engage your subject in conversation.
- Work with the Light You’ve Got
Overcast day? Sun blaring down your subject? There’s not much you can do when mother nature is in the driver’s seat. Try different angles and move your subject around to find the best, most flattering light you can. Watch that your subject doesn’t get thrown into a shadow due to the sun being directly behind them. Try moving them to the right or left of the light source and see how their new position affects the photo.
My sister loved the photos we captured that day, so I turned them into a cute video slideshow that we’ll present to her over Valentine’s Day as a surprise!