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Photo Inspired Accessories and Jewelry

 

Have you ever heard that photography cliche, "The best camera is the one you have with you"? As a new mom, I try to grab the fancy Canon S95 we bought before our adorable 2-month-old was born. But the vast majority of his baby pictures still get taken with my trusty iPhone - it's just more likely to be within arm's reach when he does something cute. Second-best? Not necessarily. By keeping some basic tips in mind and adding a bit of creativity, smartphone photos can be just as good as those fancy-camera ones, if not better.

a cute baby boy
It took a few tries to capture this irresistible smile!

1. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot

Take tons and tons of pictures - special events as well as everyday occurences, posed as well as candid shots. The more pictures you take, the better you'll get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your phone's camera.

2. Follow the Light to Avoid Flash

Outdoor pictures in bright light work the best. Indoors, use whatever light you have available, and remember that high-contrast photos with some light and some dark areas look the best. Flash can add crucial "filler" light when your baby is in shadow against a bright background, but most cameraphone flashes create weird color casts (although you might be able make that work for you).

3. Get Close!

No cameraphone has a decent zoom. They all use digital zoom, which just pumps up the pixel size, sacrificing sharp resoution. Instead of using the camera zoom, "zoom with your feet" by getting closer. Get some pro tips on zooming with your feet here.

4. Obey the Rule of Thirds

Try to compose your shots in an interesting way so you don't need to crop them later. If your camera app has a grid feature, use it! It lays down horizontal and vertical lines that divide the image area to a 3x3 grid. Try to line up the important subjects where the lines intersect. A grid can also help you keep the horizon straight.

a dad and his baby boy sleeping together
You can turn the iPhone's grid on or off by tapping Options, but lots of smartphone apps have a grid feature to help you compose great shots.

5. Hold Steady

To help hold the camera still and avoid blur, brace your arm against your side, hold your breath while pressing the button and if you can, use a hardware button instead of a touchscreen one. (The latest iPhone software, iOS 5, lets you use the volume-up button, for example.) For posed portraits, consider a tripod like the GorillaMobile, or build your own with two binder clips. Find out how in this smart mini-tutorial.

6. Change the Lens

a vintage camera
Treat your cameraphone like a real camera and switch up the lens!

If you want to get really crazy, Photojojo has magnetic lenses in three flavors - telephoto, wide/macro, and fisheye -- that you can stick on any cameraphone to play with different effects. Kids will especially love the round, goofy look of fisheye. The lenses range from $20 to $25 each, or all three for $49. While you're there, sign up for the newsletter to get helpful tips and ideas for cool photo projects.

7. Play with Apps

a dad and his baby boy hanging out on a sofa
This image uses the Lomo-Fi filter in Instagram, a "social photography" iPhone app that can also post your pics to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Tumblr. 

Tons of smartphone apps let you get creative. Hipstamatic for iPhone and Retro Camera for Android add quirky, preset filters. Camera Genius for iOS and Camera Magic for Android come with lots of extra features your regular camera application might not have, like a timer and Burst mode, which lets you fire off a bunch of pictures quickly, great for capturing fast-moving toddlers or your kid's soccer game. We'll do another post soon recommending fun photo apps, so stay tuned!

8. Back Up

Get in the habit of shooting with your phone's regular camera app, and then opening those images in your editor or effects app, so you'll always have a copy of your original. And don't forget to sync your phone to offload the images to your computer - or upload them directly from the phone to an online service like Flickr or Facebook. If you lose your phone or it stops working, you'll miss those hundreds of snapshots of your kids.

 

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