Make this the summer you capture all your memories: Sunrises, friends popping over, the kids racing around with neighbors—summer passes in an instant, but pictures are forever, especially if you post them to social media. Check out these expert smartphone photography tricks and tips for good family photos (and a few vacation selfie pointers your friends will eat up).
Gear to Go
Give yourself the advantage of summer gear that travels to the beach, park, parties, and vacations anywhere.
“Gadgets do help,” says Mark Finne, a New York City arts and events photographer. “Crisp, sharp focus is much easier to achieve with a stable camera.”
He recommends a tripod for smartphones, like the FlexPodDX Tabletop Tripod with Adapters. Set it to time-lapse dinner parties or kids’ birthdays. Since it folds up, you can use it in restaurants or on vacation. Over-the-shoulder stabilizers, like the Neewer® ST-012 Hand-Free Shoulder Mount Stabilizer, let you get Finne’s crisp style with a DSLR camera (but you could find a smartphone version, too).
Lens attachments, like Zuma’s 3-in-1 Clip-on Fisheye, Macro & .67x Wide-Angle Lens Set, are awesome, too. Get close-ups, wide angles, or fish-eye views. Nab shots of friends in the distance or snap wildlife (your kids count).
Finne advises being careful: “Smartphone zoom lenses are magnetic,” he shares, “so you may need to remove your phone’s cover.”
Attention to detail helps your photos look better all around. Flyaway strands and dewy skin can read as vacation-y and fun . . . or messy and ungroomed. Employ model-perfect smartphone photography tricks, like using hair serum to tame frizzies. Carry Kiehl’s Silk Groom Serum and a matte-finish sunscreen, like Lancome Bienfait UV SPF 50+ Super Fluid Facial Sunscreen, in your bag for on-the-go, fingertip fixes.
When you have a large group at an event or party, organize everyone into a couple of rows. “Take command of the situation,” Finne says. “All eyes on you is what you want.”
If you’re taking photos of little ones, you might have a harder time getting that perfect shot, warns Rebecca Silva, a family photographer in New Jersey. One of her favorite tips for good family photos is to never get caught capturing the kids.
“I’ll go stand on the perimeter and just wait and then take as many pics as possible. You have to be stealthy,” she shares. “Sometimes I’ll use the sport setting or the burst shot mode.” These settings allow you to capture kids running, playing with pets, or enjoying games.
When you’re somewhere magnificent—a beach that looks like a postcard or a woodsy trail that says #wanderlust—use the rule of thirds. This guideline lets you frame images in thirds, either vertically or horizontally, for balance. From there, scale and contrast to show how magical your summer is.
“Put people in your photos,” says Finne. “A mountain is just a mountain with no one on it, but imagine a rock climber way in the distance as a point of reference to show scale. Now that mountain is majestic.”
Post a few selfies on vacay, too, even if you normally wouldn’t. If you’re not the center-of-attention type, grab your partner or pet to join you.
“Light should be straight in front or above you, definitely not from the bottom,” says Silva. “A ring light does wonders! You can clip it onto your phone. It’s perfect, even lighting.” Check out one like ETvalley Selfie Ring Light LED Ring Light to get that diffused summer glow in your next selfie.
Social Media Likes
No one is saying you’re doing it for the likes, but you’re going to see more “loves” and “LOLs” when you start using these tips for good family photos and selfies. If you need a little editing, Silva recommends using your favorite app to play with contrast, saturation, and brightness—in that order.