There's an old wheeze that's routinely bandied about in regard to digital photography: "The best camera is the one you have with you." Ask a qualified photographer about the value of this advice, however, and you might get a less-than-enthusiastic reply along the lines of "Why represent a great moment (and potentially great memory) with a terrible image?"
Fair enough. A bad image can taint a precious memory, but the truth is that sometimes wonderful things happen before your eyes — a child experiences the joys of the holidays, a disconnected relative rejoins the fold, dad nearly burns down the house by stuffing a tree up the chimney and setting it ablaze. Having a record of these events can provide a warm glow for years to come. So yes, these things are worth capturing with the camera you have handy. But, if you take some care, you can produce the best of both worlds from your iPhone — good memories as well as images that won't haunt you in the future. To help with that, take these tips to heart.
Far too many people forget that their iPhone's camera is just two gestures away. Press the Home button and swipe up on the camera icon that appears on the bottom-right of the screen. The few seconds you save by doing this rather than unlocking the phone, tapping the Camera app, and finally snapping the picture may mean the difference between The Perfect Moment and The One That Got Away.
You've always wanted to direct
Put family and a camera together and the person operating that camera suddenly acts out their dream of shooting police lineups. Invariably, the family is asked to shove themselves against a not-terribly-interesting wall, the shooter steps back 15 feet so that everyone fits in the frame, and she snaps the picture that will induce years of "Now who is that again?" You can do better.
Feel free to arrange your subjects. Instead of lining them up, do what the pros do with large groups of people and create rows — tall ones in the back, middling ones in the middle, and kids (or kneelers) in the front. Sure, it may mean that Uncle Bob has to put down his egg nog for a minute, but it will result in a better image where you can actually identify the people in it.
Likewise, tempting though it may be to plunk the clan in front of a holiday tree, if that tree has an unshaded window behind it, your family will appear as dark objects in front of the brighter background. It's a cool effect in other contexts, but not great when you want to distinguish Aunt Carla from a standing lamp. Shift your friends and family around so they're not backlit — natural light coming in from the side will be far more flattering. Or, better yet, take them outside and drape them with tinsel if that adds the holiday flavor you're after.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.