At last count, my iPhone contained 8,755 photos. If I ever used Siri, I assume she’d insist, speech slurred, that I whittle that down to give her room to breathe before she could provide me with any assistance whatsoever.

Sometimes I think the whole thing just might spontaneously burst into flames.

I am not a photographer. I am a mom with an iPhone. Obviously, the main subjects of my thousands of photos are my kids. A lot of them are total crap. Kids move fast, refuse to cooperate, and sometimes I just miss. But over the last several years I’ve honed my skills and the misses are fewer and far between. I’ve amassed a serious collection of images that I’m truly proud of using only my iPhone and this set of guidelines:

Be Quick!

Full disclosure: I am that mom who (provided the risk level is relatively low) snaps a photo before rescuing precariously perched toddlers. Many photo worthy moments happen in the blink of an eye. For that reason, I often open my camera from the lock screen, swiping up from the bottom right corner.

Ain’t nobody got time for passcodes when babies start hugging each other and kids dash off happily into the snow.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Light! Make it natural.

two young kids enjoying summer at the lake with sun lit background. Watching sun down.

Good lighting is the difference between a photo that’s meh and totally stunning. The morning as light streams through windows and the last hour or so before the sun goes down are my favorite times of day to capture. Experiment with sun rays and silhouettes. Set the flash to off and keep it natural.

Don’t zoom. Move closer.

cookiethief copy

Like with your actual body. The iphone is powerful, but not enough to take photos without degrading them when using the zoom feature.  Get in close and take shots that isolate something you want to remember; a grubby little hand stealing cookies, baby toes peeking out under covers, portraits of sleeping faces.

Speaking of moving, get low.

Kids are short. Generally, anyway. Get down on their level. Capturing them while in the space they occupy strengthens the image.

Make it interesting. 

Sure, centered photos of your child smiling at the camera are great, but can become tiresome. I use the grid feature (you can enable it on the native camera by going into settings–>photos and camera then scrolling down and toggling it on) to follow the rule of thirds. Placing points of interest in the areas where the lines intersect draw the eye into the photo and make for an overall more appealing result. Shooting from unexpected angles is another way to enhance visual interest. Explore top down shots of lego building, notice reflections, or focus on wrinkly toes perched on the edge of the tub as the smiles blur in the background.

 

 Don’t over filter.

7 months cute baby girl lying on a bed

Filters are like the Jnco jeans of the photo world. They seemed fashionable enough then, but eventually become a foolish representation of their moment in time. Honestly, how you can hold in your hand this incredible tool that your ancestors could not even fathom, yet choose to manipulate an image until it looks like something your backed over with your car is baffling to me. I am in no way ANTI filter, but I know the photos which most closely resemble what the eye sees are the ones that will stand the test of time. When I first became an iPhone owner, I was very heavy handed with the editing. Looking back, those photos haven’t kept my interest. Go easy. Stay authentic as a rule and break it occasionally.

Then, do yourself a favor and put the best of the best in a place where they aren’t going to be lost, buried, or saved at a low resolution (I’m looking at you, Facebook and Instagram!)

Instead, Notabli makes it easy to organize and privately share all of the great Holiday (and everyday) moments. Download the free app for iOS or android and start a childhood album they’ll thank you for.