8 Tips for Great Family Photographs with A Smartphone
Imagine a perfect afternoon at a park. You are sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee while listening to birds singing and your children play. The scene feels like a page of a fairytale is coming to life and you just want to capture the moment and remember it forever. You rush for your phone, get closer to the kids and with an eager voice and a big smile you say “CHEESE!”. That’s it, everything is lost as the children just froze and are staring back at you with a blank look in their eyes.
The image you actually captured is miles away from the image you intended to capture and treasure in a frame at home. When the moment is gone, it’s gone, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are my professional tips on capturing moments that tell a story, without carrying an actual camera, buying expensive editing software or hiring a professional photographer on a regular basis.
Use the Smartphone
Your smartphone is already good enough.
Not only the quality of the photos is good but it’s always available. Keeping the lens clean makes a difference. Before you click, just make sure the lens is clean of fingerprints, make up from the last phone call or dust from your handbag.
Forget finding a perfect moment
Take photos every day and shoot the “ordinary” situations. Yes. Every. Single. Day. When you look back on today, you will regret not having some moments captured. While it is a nice memory for the whole family, it also helps children build confidence in front of the camera. After a while, they’ll stop paying attention to you when you take out your smartphone and come close. They will just feel comfortable and you will have a situation and a time to capture the perfect moment you so longed for.
Extra tip: Google “Photo a Day” challenge.
Go for Spontaneity
Let the kids be themselves without having to look straight into the camera at every shot.
Spontaneous moments offer a lot of emotion and a story behind the image. Special Props are also not necessary. What is important is to capture expressions, their moods and pure emotions. Isn’t that what we’re witnessing and living day by day with them?
Utilize the natural light if you do have a chance to create a scene. By following the daylight, you can capture natural colors and shadows and the photos will require minimal to no editing. Position the face so that it is the brightest part of the photo. You can do so by going as closest to the window as possible. These photos are ideal when children are reading, sleeping or playing with a favorite toy.
Stay minimal keeping unnecessary background out of the scene. A busy background may distract the attention from the kids when someone is looking at the image. Go for the simple, minimalist and natural backgrounds. If your smartphone has a PORTRAIT function go ahead and experiment with it, as it helps fade out the busy background and brings clarity to the main character(s) in the photo. I like to experiment with the different lighting options, and often opt for STUDIO LIGHT to brighten up indoor as well as outdoor shots. Note that PORTRAIT is ideal when the children or adults are quite still.
Play and experiment with angles. Avoid to point and shoot. Follow the children’s play and even sit on the floor with them to get their perspective on what they are doing. For context take a photo through the toys. For photos in which they are lying on the bed shoot from above, but if they are on the floor sit down near them or place their favorite toy right in front of the lens and take the photo by playing with illusion of size. In both cases the kids will be the key theme in the photo and will fill the image. Play while you’re taking photos, they love it every time!
Use the timer function on your smartphone to have the whole family in the picture. It’s fun for the children to see their mom or dad running back from the phone to find their spot before the image is shot, and loudly counting the seconds backwards. One of the most precious memories captured might easily become this one where you’re blurry and running and they’re all laughing their hearts out.
It’s such a cliché but selfies capture so much emotion and facial expressions. Make yourself present in the photos. Engage your partner and friends to click every now and then and make photos of you and your kids together. As a fellow mom and as a photographer, I know how easily we tend to forget about ourselves and to include us in the photos. Forget perfection or finding the right moments. Be you and every moment will be perfect for your child. They really won’t care about our messy buns or eyebags or pyjamas, all they see is their mom together with them in a moment. They love us simply for being us and for the moments we make and spend together with them. The least we can all do is make sure they have some of those captured to take with themselves wherever they might end up in life. It’s the moments and emotions that matter. It’s family. It’s life as it is.
And for all those times you really don’t feel like clicking or thinking about it, please honor a photographer by hiring him/her to capture what’s the most precious of all in your life and just enjoy the process and the result.
About the Author
Ivana Matic is born and raised in Croatia. Her academic studies provided her the foundations of an Early Childhood Educator. While working with children in a kindergarten for 6 years and immersing in the Montessori school of thought, she also deepened her photography work which quickly turned into a business. She's been living in Rapperswil with her husband since 2019 and is in the middle of the move to Kilchberg, while raising their one-year old girl. Ivana’s journey has made her an expert in the field of photography and her on-going mission is to help families to capture and preserve life’s precious moments through her lens.
You can contact and follow Ivana here.
Note: All photo credits belong to Ivana Matic.
The need to learn one or more foreign languages is becoming more and more imperative.
No one disputes their usefulness but few are those who fully understand their value in the modern world. What are the reasons why one should learn (one or more) foreign languages?
Learning a foreign language increases global comprehension
We live in an era where multiculturalism is a fact. Globalization, telecommunications and public transport have bridged the gaps between people from different cultures who at first glance seem incompatible with each other. Learning a language gives us the opportunity to get to know the mentality of the people, the manners and customs of a place. Italian director Federico Fellini once said: "A different language is a different perspective on life." Understanding diversity can resolve disputes and ensure world peace.
It broadens your horizons and you become independent
By fully grasping a foreign language you can read books, newspapers, blogs, listen to music, watch TV programs in other languages. This will in turn help you see what is happening around you from different perspectives, and thus will be more comprehensively informed, without falling in the traps of ‘fake news’.
You can travel around the world
Traveling to other countries is in itself a magical experience that can be unforgettable if you know the language of the place you are visiting.
Professional development opportunities
In today's job market, a multilingual worker is an irreplaceable multi-tool. Knowledge of foreign languages proves to your employer that you have more qualifications, that you can learn easily, that you have a variety of interests, that you are generally an open-minded and versatile person.
You can study and work abroad
More and more young people are choosing to study or specialize abroad for a number of reasons. The doors of universities are open to anyone who is fluent in a foreign language. But employers do not hesitate to hire people who know the language of their business partners as communication is then more personal and direct.
You can make new friends from all over the world
Knowing a foreign language allows you to converse with other people but also to accept them more easily. Whether you like traveling, or prefer to meet new people in Switzerland, a foreign language can help you significantly. And I do not think anyone would question the value of friendship.
A foreign language can be used as a communication code between you and your friends or relatives to say things in public that you do not want others to understand. The U.S. military used Navajo and Cheyenne Native Americans as radio operators during World War II to prevent eavesdropping.
You benefit from more "small pleasures of life"
A friend who studied in Italy can make you the most beautiful pizza or pasta you have ever tasted or prepare a special Freddo for you. He can also lend you records with Italian music. The same can be repeated with hot croissants, French coffee or wine and Edith Piaf. Small pleasures that make our life more beautiful.
Because you love to learn
Learning is very makes us feel good and has no age limit. To many of us it may sound strange but it is fun to learn. YES. Think about how well you are doing at each lesson, benchmarking your progress with how you first began learning something new. Even if you look back to how many new friends made, how much fun you have together, how many new things do you learned outside the core subject.
You become a better person
Learning a foreign language makes you a more open-minded person. You appreciate others, you get to know different people, their manners and customs, and you have fun in the process.
For all of the reasons above and many more, learning one or more foreign languages is an important part of life.
As a working mom of three children near Zurich, my time to learn is very limited, and while learning the local language of my region is important, it must be optimised.
I currently participate in the B1 German class twice a week at Wordculture in Zurich, and attending these classes has become my self-care time. Getting ready for a class in the morning powers me up to get all children out of the house on time, dress-up in clothes that are not athleisure wear and prepare myself to see people related to my personal growth and ongoing education.
When all this works like clockwork I am on time, vigilant and alert in class. However, plans are made to change and routines can be intercepted when small children are in the picture. It happens on occasions that one of my children is unwell and has to stay home from school, especially during these times of Covid where a small cold can be very alarming.
Fortunately, in this case I don’t need to miss my lessons because I can zoom into the live class from home.
Through this hybrid system, online and on-site, in which students and teachers can attend the live class online, or switch it to distant learning completely, I did not need to skip a beat in the course, despite life’s currents trying to pull me away.
I must also give credit to our teacher Patrick who is patient, knowledgeable and very flexible in organizing an online link last minute, as well as my class mates who are also moms and understand how unpredictable family life is.
For parents with even younger children that are not yet in primary school, Wordculture offers day-care by a child professional next door to the adult language classes.
Something I wish I had when my children were babies. Having someone watch your children in the room next to your language class feels priceless, especially when you are a new mom that needs opportunity and a pair of hands to help you re-connect with the world.
Written by Maria Karachaliou, founder of Momizen.com and mother of 3 children, living near Zurich, Switzerland.
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