10 Smartphone Photography Tricks for busy families

How hectic is family life nowadays with the children, partner, shopping, tidying the house, plus keeping track of the kids schedules and usually juggling a full time job it can be stressful and tiring at the best if times.

With kids simply not staying kids for very long and you doing your absolute best using your camera phone for those moments when they do something unique and special that you may not see again, you then have a look back at the images for them to not look that great, maybe the image were blurred or the flash ruined overall image! – moment lost.

How I can you do this better?

Since many young families don’t have the time to visit a photographer or even have time or the space to have a home visit have a look at my 10 little tricks to make your photos that bit better.

  1. You could happily use the built in phone app but there are some fantastic options out there that offer various things all in one package such as anti-blur, grid squares and editing software altogether for your convenience with 7 of them being found here for you to take a look at.
  2. The issue with most photographs done with camera phones is that they are taken straight away usually with the subject right in the middle of the frame. instead of doing this why not try using the rule of thirds which splits the screen into 9 segmented squares with overlapping lines. The trick here is to place your subject on the overlapping lines to create a more dynamic and visually pleasing image for the viewer. As you can see from the images below which were taken with an LG G3 camera phone the right image is taken straight on using no guides. The left image is using intersecting lines on the right side to highlight the text on the cup, making it stand out more.

3. Keeping it natural with light is definitely the best way using a camera phone trying using sunlight as much as possible because the flash on most if not all camera phones is exceptionally harsh and generally speaking ruins a good photo, as the flash is located on the back of the phone aiming directly at the subject creating large hot spots of light plus altering the colours of the image.

Looking at the images below the left is just natural sunlight coming through the window and the right image is in exactly the same position but using the built in flash as well, it dramatically alters the image. Due to the bright flash the camera has reduced light coming through which has reduced light everywhere else.

4. All that space! – when taking photos you don’t have to fill the entire frame with the subject you can use empty space known as “negative space” around the subject which makes for a more impact full image on the viewer.

Actually the subject matter for this works better filling the frame 🙂 due to the texture of the microphone, but leaving space around the subject leaves them room to breath so to speak, for example if you grabbed a nice shot of your son and he is looking slighting off to the left then leaving more space to the left of the image fits the image more.

5. Use your legs to zoom not the camera phone, This one has to be one of the most important tricks on this list from a technical point of view in my opinion. If you can at all times simply move closer to the subject for zoom shots, if you use the digital zoom the image deteriorates at a rapid rate to the point of no return, wheres it ends up as a smudge of pixels on the screen which no one wants. What is happening is the phone is not really zooming in it is trying to replicate what the subject should look like in a closer perspective.

The images below show the difference, the left one has been done with a digital zoom at a similar distance and the right one has been done by moving the phone closer to the subject.

6. A quick one here is with the phone been set at manufactures settings the quality of the camera might not be set to the highest available so make sure you check this before taking photos, by checking that the MP size is set to the largest number available.

7. Our phones go through a lot from sitting in our pockets and bags all day to being dropped on the floor to letting the kids watch cartoons for 20 minutes. All this could easily make the lens dirty so next time you use it grab a clean cloth and give a good wipe down, in fact the best ones can be found from glasses cases.

8. About ready to burst, if you aren’t that confident getting a great photograph with one or two shots then why not switch the camera over to burst mode, which once activated continues taking photos for as long as you keep the button pressed. Once you have a selection of photos from the subject you then delete the worst ones, job done.

9. Freeze your busted, this is also a large issue with professional gear as even the slightest wobble or movement from the camera when taking a photograph could blur a killer shot! – Try to keep as still as possible when taking those perfect shots as the phone like a camera will pick up movement and potentially blur the photograph. Try to lean your phone hand against something solid such as a tree, wall, door frame etc to help keep those photos as sharp as possible.

10. Finally what about the editing? – make your photos really stand out from the crowd by having a look at Hubspots post on some of the best editing software out there for mobile which is quick and easy to use.

These are just some of the tricks out there to help out with using a camera phone more effectively, but if you have some free time available now have a quick look around my gallery for the style and quality I provide.


Up Close and Personal (part 4)

Small selection of images below which are a bit more varied. The middle one of the Poppy was actually done using a 52 mm Nikon lens with a 32 mm macro tube attached which being honest I think are fantastic little things and there cheap as well so that’s a bonus! – I would have never got that close using just the standard lens.

Only problem being right on top of subjects like the centre image is the slightest puff a wind and you lose the composition so even a fart would probably make a difference! 🙂

I always try to work manual consistently as this gives me total freedom over all my shots and take away the decisions of the camera on how my photos should look, in my personal opinion I don’t think full frame cameras should even have an automatic mode.


Nikon D3100 DSLR fully manual with Sigma 78 mm – 300 mm lens (iso: 200, shutter: 1/620, aperture: 5.6 I think) Did this freehand with manual focus

Nikon D3100 DSLR fully manual with 52 mm Nikon lens & 32 mm macro tube (iso: 200, shutter: 1/320, aperture: 5.6) – freehand with manual focus

Nikon D3100 DSLR fully manual with Sigma 78 mm – 300 mm lens (iso: 100, shutter: 1/640, aperture: 5.6) – freehand with manual focus

Up close(r) and Personal part 3

Had a fantastic session other day going out with the camera, the weather looked a bit dodgy the entire day so I was up and down weather go on a mission but am glad a did as it were one of best days I have had with my camera been honest.




Little tip here as well.

Generally speaking I walk for miles and miles and don’t take in my surroundings enough ultimately meaning I don’t get a good selection of work. This time however I thought right then simmer down when walking and really take your time.

On a usual walk I do about 12 miles but this time I did barely 2 miles and captured some much better subjects, the best place being a farmers field crawling about on my hands and knees! 😉

Up close and personal (part 2)

So I went on a mission around the Trans pennine trail the other day because there’s loads to see and the trails go on for ever! I think a covered about 5 miles which is nowt, but the next time a do it am going to double it me thinks.

Tell you what does me head in though is I walk everywhere generally as I don’t like catching bus and I don’t drive so a walk around 20 miles a week on average, now you’d think whoa loads a opportunity there to take pictures.

You’d be spot on with that assumption but I don’t like using me phone camera, and am not walking everywhere with all me camera gear  all time, so a thought am going to plan a session which is specifically for me photography work and it turned out decent.

Shame about the photo bombing bug, but moving it would have affected the condition of the subject (Nikon D3100 – freehand (ISO 400, aperture: 5.6, shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual

The weather for the spring bank holiday Saturday were meant to be good and they weren’t too far off with the prediction (cos we know they never get weather right!) as a may have mentioned before I struggle with landscape photography. With this in mind I have been using Twitter for the hourly gatherings, and there’s one called #Barnsleyhour which is every Thursday between 20:00pm – 21:00pm where I’ve been chatting to some great folk regarding various types of photography.

One guy I got chatting to from a recommendation from Amy Law was a great bloke from Yorkshire who does fantastic landscape photography and has recently launched a new website which has incredible work on it and can also be purchased through his site making it a jack of all trades.

Seemed to work better as a B & W image this like the one above (Nikon D3100 – freehand ISO: 200, aperture: 5.6, shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual

With the landscape stuff I have realised that there needs to be fore ground interest that leads you in the rest of the image, so when I actually get around to having another go I’ll do a post on it and tell me what you think.

With my spring bank mission around the trans pennine trail I hoped to get more images I was pleased with but that is a issue of mine. If I am completely satisfied with the images then other folk wont be so why would I post them? – quite simply put, I wouldn’t. I took around 100 images but I only liked so many due to me going free hand with a 300mm macro lens chasing after stuff makes it difficult to keep them in focus long enough for some top pictures.

This guy dropped out of a tree right in front of me, he stayed still long enough for some good shots – Shame about the stick obsuring his head though! (Nikon D3100 – freehand, ISO: 800, aperture: 5.6, shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual

With the image above I had to make some slight corrections in Adobe Lightroom as the area had a large tree canopy so the light was really low, that with the narrow-ish aperture meant decent light was an issue, so I jacked the ISO up to 800 to compensate which introduced some colour noise in to the image. A quick soften in Lightroom with a 4 pixel highpass on a separate layer in Photoshop sorted that though!

The images below are from a session the weekend after where the weather was absolutely boiling so I couldn’t stay out as long as I wanted to unfortunately because I forget that if I walk say…. 6 miles and it takes me a couple of hour I then have to obviously walk that same distance back turning it into a 12 mile 4 hour walk! which takes its tole in hot weather carrying camera gear.


Basically a massive daisy this, all over place down there (Nikon D3100 – freehand, ISO: 200, aperture: 5.6, shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual
Pain in arse throttling colour back with these buttercup flowers, I like the intensity but it over saturates the details making it look more like a yellow silhouette instead of a flower (Nikon D3100 – freehand, ISO: 200, aperture: 5.6, shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual
Little bit different for me this, but this were weird! seemed really out of place like it didn’t belong here, some kind of abandoned tunnel (Nikon D3100 – freehand, ISO: 800, aperture: 9 shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual
Proper tiny this fly, really didn’t think i’d get a focused one as the slightest bit a wind moved the entire image out of shot, I were actually waiting on some rabbits just behind this guy but they never showed. (Nikon D3100 – freehand, ISO: 200, aperture: 5.6 shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual
Well chuffed with this one, he were constantly moving so a must have looked a right tit chasing him about for a good shot, tried to get him face on but it weren’t happening! (Nikon D3100 – freehand, ISO: 400, aperture: 5.6 shutter: 1/400, lens: 70 – 300mm Sigma, additional gear: battery grip) – fully manual

Understanding my audience (keeping it simples)

So since am starting a business in photography and my services offered are for the most part a “luxury” (item which was pointed on in a workshop session, more on that later) it can be difficult to get sales especially in my home town of Barnsley! – the folk living here are so reserved with their money am positive their coffins are going to be made from actual £20 notes.

Like me mum telling me that these glass jars she bought from a charity shop the other day were expensive and they should think about reducing the price… (they were £1.49 each by the way, so not even 3 quid!) This is a perfect case in point, it doesn’t matter the quality everything is ALWAYS too expensive for people around here.

Another example for you would be someone getting in touch with me on Facey B which can be found here (Facebook business page if you fancy a peek at me page) and she inquired about me covering a christening for around £50 with photos included! – I mean whats that all about? not even worth getting out of bed for…

One to One

So with this new found ammunition at the ready I went to an Enterprising Barnsley session at the Barnsley Digital Media centre in Barnsley today and met with Ben Hawley, who’s a top bloke and gave me some fantastic advice throughout the session which lasted nearly an hour an half.

The thing is I attend lots of different events like these because without fail someone else’s perspective will have another spin that I can try out which always helps and I try and get the most input from folk as humanly viable. The focus of the session with Ben today was refining my Facebook page (totally remastering it really) as I know that I will get a good amount of work from it if I learn how to utilise the beast more effectively.

if am honest social media actually does me head in when am using it for me self but doing it for other folk I really like because ultimately they provide the content I just present it in a nice way.

Some of the tips he put to me where to add a nice call to action on all my images that I post, plus a nice description to get people more engaged with each image. We then got chatting about the customer life cycle (known as AIDA) which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. This is the general pipe line that everyone searching for something works with subconsciously, here is an example:

Attention: So I add a nice large image to Facebook from a shoot I have done, adjusted colours and cropped it in slightly [which creates…]

Interest: They click the image and see a nice description and they start thinking [creating a…]

Desire: They think hmmm, i’d love some up to dates photos of the kids since they like what they see and the description has pulled them in [creating an…]

Action: Each image has a clear call to action button directing them either email, a phone number, email address or website which ever place to need them to be.

AIDA marketing model
I work best visually so a thought I’d stick this in to better understand the process

This was a really insightful view on it, as this path makes you require a purpose for all your marketing content, this may sound really silly as you’d be thinking of course it must have a purpose. But speaking from experience I’ve spent unnecessary cash on advertising for what? – a page “like” on Facebook? – and whats that got me? they might “unlike” me in a week so that’s money wasted.

Ben did mentioned that Facebook has around 13 different advert templates! – have you noticed which ones Facebook push the most? “get likes for your page” & “Boost your post” these for me personally has served me no purpose at all that’s why I haven’t been active on Facebook enough.

The most interesting template was one where Facebook only charged you when someone clicked through to a particular page such as book now! – which in all fairness is what most of us would be wanting, or maybe driving them to your website for booking.

“Always assume they are stupid and lazy”

You need to be thinking outside the box with this one, an open mind. With the internet being what it is and content being updated constantly and the constant refining of the customer life cycle, it is important to assume that people cannot navigate your site, know how to book and so on. A mean you’ve seen the tutorials for keeping your site navigation as simple as possible.

The simple reason for all this is to keep everything “dummy proof” its that simple!

Take me for example, I like painting warhammer figures on the gamesworkshop site, and the site it’s self is always being reworked to keep things dead simple for viewing and purchasing, because if it took me more than 10 seconds to figure out how to order some stuff and pay for it a wouldn’t bother and just nip into my local town in the future to pick it up. Its all about the attention span these days, simplicity is expected in this day and age.

That’s that one wrapped up, hopes you liked it. Don’t be shy to drop me a comment about what am talking about and if you have any input yourself, remember its all about helping each other.

Dave signing off…


The Comfort Zone

Honestly coming from experience, that “comfort zone” thing will actually dictate your entire life if you let it, your only born once and need to make the absolute most of it while you’re here! –

Why is it so EASY to pass on knowledge to other folk but never actually listen to your own chuffing words!

So I actually attended me first networking event today at Digital Media Centre (DMC) in Barnsley town centre, as word a mouth is meant to be a powerful tool in a entrepreneurs arsenal which in me opinion trumps social media any day a week! – now maybe it’s me not utilising social media properly or am simply not putting the time in but word a mouth advertising always works best for me as a photographer.

Starting the day

So a had to be there for half 8 this morning, meaning I had to be up for about half 6 as a only catch bus if I absolutely have to, so generally a walk everywhere. The DMC from me is about 2 and half mile which takes about 45 minutes (ish) depending on weather, but today the weather were on me side thank god! – I do all me general stuff that you do in morning like brushing your teeth and that but this morning had it in for me.

I’ve got an electric tooth brush (not them proper swish one’s mind you) it cost me 3 quid from me barber (Yep, me barber) but batteries don’t fit right….EVER so a whack base of it on wall to (ahem, click it) into place to then split back a tooth brush and leave a fantastic print in wall paper for me grandparents to find and skin me over when a get home.

Wicked! – well played sir…

so a gets me teeth done and goes to get me shower gear from me gym bag which a used yesterday, only to find when showering at gym that I’d not put lid back on me shampoo! – What sort a pudding does that?! The chaos, the blue oozing catastrophe which was presented to me in me gym bag, it were everywhere! – absolutely everywhere. All me shower gear were covered in it not to mention me gym towel and gloves. But I didn’t even notice this at first, a put the bag down on me grandma’s fresh clean bath mats in bathroom first to see the blue fountain coming out of a split in bag! – second strike for me from me grandparents.

b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l  – this were before I’d even had me breakfast, quality start to me day. Do you ever have those days where you think… knackers to this am going back to bed and starting me day again? – A thought this were one a them days.

The Event

I’ve never actually been to one a these networking thingies before, so a were nervous as it’s a comfort zone thing with me, a gets in only to see an ocean of white shirts and black suits everywhere! – am thinking oh no, these aren’t sort a folk I want to be networking with they look like a bunch a bankers or whatever.

A nips to toilet to reassess the situation, talking myself out of it and thinking to simply walk out without even signing in but then… I have an Epiphany !  NO I’ll have 5 minutes to have a look around properly (thats a lie, am actually willing someone to approach me instead like a coward!) whips out me phone so a don’t look awkward but inadvertently creating a barrier to be approached due to me phone. (vicious cycle engaged)

But then someone walks up stairs that I actually know called Sarah Valentine (kept wanting to call her Jill Valentine accidentally! – bloody computer games) and she gives me a proper pep talk and boosts me confidence to get stuck in! – she chats to a couple a folk and brings them over and the conversation starts flowing, I ended up making 5 contacts when me plan were to only engage 2, already creating a barrier for me self.

It’s amazing how much is in your mind, how difficult a person can make something when there simply is no reason to. Take for example all the suited and booted people that attended and intimidated me – why did they? What because they know how to wear a suit and put a tie on? So what! I could do that, but that doesn’t represent me as a person, so I would be creating a fake impression of myself to fit in. I was actually going to bail on the entire event because of how they dressed and the misinterpretation in my mind of what a suited person stands for, I actually felt out place like I was more common than they were, and it actually turned out they were fantastic people to chat to and I learnt so much from the experience.

This cant be any truer, I know its difficult but its the only way to move forward and actually mean something.

So… with this in mind about how a dress code manipulated me for my next networking event I am going to wear the brightest yellow t-shirt I can find and just see if this intrigues folk into thinking “wow, how loud is that shirt his wearing, I wonder what his business is? – what kind of a person is he? in fact am going over to ask.

Lets see whats happens, a shall keep you posted on the outcome.

Signing off…


P.S am after posting every couple a week to start with so I can get into the swing of blogging because being honest a reckon a could definitely get into this. 😉




Up Close and Personal


When I first thought about taking photography up a level and by that I mean sorting out a proper camera (Nikon D3100 I know amateur camera but plans are in progress for a Nikon D7200) and gear, the genre that interested me the most was macro photography.

If you’ve looked at rest of me work on this site your probably thinking… eh? but your site mostly covers portrait work and good portrait work at that! 🙂 – you’d be right in thinking that, I love portrait photography too but the thing is with that I have time scales to work to, clients to please, editing and pricing to sort out but with my macro work its just for me, so if I want to take 2 hour to get a shot perfect then I can without anybody telling me otherwise it makes a nice change.

White Flower
Nikon D3100 – freehand (ISO 200, aperture: 5.6, shutter speed: 1/200 lens: 18mm – 52mm standard, additional gear: Ring flash) – fully manual

In fact even back when I was faffing about with a camera phone a were always drawn to the intimacy of macro work, the really up close and personal approach to a subject, how even the smallest adjustment to the position of either the subject or camera dramatically effects the overall look of an image. The best part of macro has to be the astonishing amount of detail that can be pulled from a single flower, its brilliant to see done properly, that quite simply a normal set of peepers couldn’t possibly see.

With me living in Yorkshire there’s loads a greenery, fields and woods around meaning a good subject to photograph is never that far away, its just finding them! On days where the weathers simply not the best (which being honest is often in good’ol blighty) I generally visit other places such as me grandma’s house who along with me grandad are fanatical gardeners and grow allsorts from fruit and vegetables to fantastic tulips and roses.

Since this post’s about macro photography am going to add the camera settings of each image plus the gear used like the images you can see here, that way you can see what’s being used and hopefully might recommend settings for different effects! – which would be great.

Watered Rose
Nikon D3100 – freehand (ISO: 100, aperture: 5.6, shutter speed: 1/200, lens: 18mm – 52mm standard, additional gear: Ring flash and macro lens adaptor) – Fully manual

Since I’ve been working on me blog more its amazing how much stuff pops into me head to talk about. Tell you what proper annoys me though is when your out walking and you spot that perfect capture for you to not have your camera! – that’s happened so many times as I walk an awful lot so being honest a person with some foresight would think best take me camera as a keep missing amazing shots, but I never do….

Anyway I digress…. 

Enough with the rabbling, on with the pictures!

Worker Bee
(He were actually on his last legs this guy, were barely moving) Nikon D3100 – freehand (ISO: 100, aperture: 5.6, shutter speed: 1/200, lens: 18mm – 52mm standard, additional gear: Ring flash and macro lens adaptor) – Fully manual


Small Pink flower
(Captured this one while on a photography course) Nikon D3100 – freehand  (ISO: 100, aperture: 5.6, shutter speed: 1/200, lens: 18mm – 52mm standard, additional gear: Ring flash and macro lens adaptor) – Fully manual


(Managed to get this from walking the Trans Pennine Trail which covers an obscene distance) Nikon D3100 – freehand (ISO: 200, aperture: 5.6, shutter speed: 1/200, lens: 18mm – 52mm standard, additional gear: Ring flash) – Fully manual
(This is from the Cannon Hall gardens visit on a photography class which I enjoyed since I’ve never been before or cant remember going!) Nikon D3100 – freehand (ISO: 100, aperture: 5.6, shutter speed: 1/200, lens: 18mm – 52mm standard) – Fully manual

Cheers for reading this, I hope to see some comments on improvements to me work or maybe some tips. My next post will be the 23rd as am after writing 2 per month to start with.


Wondering around the crowd

A sojourn in the city of Halifax gave me the opportunity to draw the morning rush for coffee and doughnuts at Tim Horton’s in Scotia Square Mall. I’m always astonished at the efficiency of people who work there; your order is placed neatly on a tray almost as soon as the words stumble out of […]

via Morning tide at Tim’s. — drawthepublic