Top Tips for Capturing Special Family Moments on your Smartphone


The fantastic Lauren from Moviebytes shares her top tips on how to make the most of your smartphone for capturing special family moments:

Smartphones provide us with such an easy way to capture the special moments we have with our family. Most of us constantly have our phones within reaching distance meaning that when our children do something cute or hilarious we can easily grab our phone and start recording or snapping away. The camera quality on most modern smartphones is now so sophisticated that it’s no point having a separate handheld camera. However, the smartphone camera end result is not always as good as it could be and having worked with lots of poor quality, self-filmed footage that clients have sent in since starting Moviebytes, I have decided to compile a list of a few simple tips and tricks to really get the best out of using your smartphone for filming, and then enjoying the content you capture. Hope it is useful:

1.    So, those of you who know me well know that my biggest pet peeve is working with footage that has been filmed in portrait on a smartphone. When viewed back on a screen, videos are almost always presented horizontally as this is how our minds best process them. If they are filmed in portrait the edit will need to zoom in and potentially lose some of the footage or image quality. So train your brain to always turn your phone to the horizontal position when shooting…unless of course you are using the footage for an Insta-story!

2.    Be aware of how the environment might affect the quality of your footage. Consider the lighting and sound and how this might impact what you shoot. E.g. alter your position if there’s too much background light which is making the subject difficult to see. If you want to take your videos up a notch then there are heaps of camera add-ons you can buy, relatively cheaply, such as stabilisers and external video microphones, especially made for your smartphone.

3.    If there are two parents in your child’s life then make sure it’s not just one parent doing all of the filming. Try to share it out as much as possible so you don’t look back at your footage in five years time and wonder whether one of you was actually there or not.

4.    Don’t obsess about getting ‘perfect’ shots and enjoy real life. Always let events unfold naturally. I’ve admittedly spent ages trying to line my daughter up with her cousins to get a shot of them all playing and then one of them has ended up having a tantrum about something completely unrelated. Kids are unpredictable. I’ve learnt that the best photos and video footage come when we don’t try to stage things and just let them be natural (and then reach for the camera when they do something funny or cute).

5.    Have fun with other features on your smartphone camera like time lapse and apps such as Boomerang. My recent favourite discovery is Plotagraph which is an app that lets you animate still photos. There’s also features on your smartphone camera that many of us aren’t aware of. For example, when filming on an iPhone if you press the white circle it will take still photos whilst allowing you to continue filming which is SO handy!

6.    Back up. Back up. Back up. I can’t say it enough. The moments we capture on our phones are irreplaceable. If you have an iPhone you can automatically back up your content on iCloud which will sync with all your devices and (if need be) increasing your storage is not too pricey. I also recommend services such as Dropbox where the Plus version gives you 1TB of storage and the app is very easy to use.

7.    File your material regularly. Set aside half an hour each month to do this. If you’re anything like me and take hundreds of photos and videos each month, it’s important to stay on top of them all and be organised. Most people prefer to file everything by years and months as it’s easy to locate something later down the line, but think of a filing system that feels right for you and be disciplined with it. I find that what may seem quite a mundane, frustrating task is actually quite therapeutic and enjoyable.

8.    Remember that if you share pictures and videos over email or WhatsApp then this compresses them and reduces the quality. If you want to share stuff with family and friends it is best to do so using platforms such as iCloud, Dropbox or Google Drive. IMessage is also ok. I have a shared family iCloud folder for my daughter which grandparents, aunties and uncles etc are part of and can access and upload special moments to.

9.    And finally, if you follow on Instagram you’ll know I’m a complete sucker for anything nostalgic. I highly recommend using apps like Timehop to remind you of what you were doing on that exact day 1+ year(s) ago by loading up the videos and photos saved on your camera rolls or on social media. It always provides a little boost of happiness!

I hope this has provided some useful tips for you and helps encourage capturing more fun, family moments and memories on your phone. Enjoy!

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