Recently my daughter asked me if I like having a phone and phones now are different than the phones they had when I was little. Her questions were stemming from talking about what it’s like to be Amish. When I told her “how few things” phones did when I was a little girl, she basically thought I lived like I was Amish. All kidding aside, it’s pretty crazy what phones can do these days. Besides for keeping up with my mom friends group text chain the other thing I use my phone for most is photos. People ask me all the time how I get so many great photos of my kids and today I am sharing my photo secrets with these quick & easy tips for editing photos.
Photography has been one of my favorite hobbies since I was about 14. I showed a lot of interest in my moms camera and she taught me how to use her fully manual camera that her dad gave her in the 70’s. As the years went on, I learned how to use it on my own and she let me take it with me when I studied abroad. It was my prized possession. I look at all of my pictures from Italy and remember how I would have to choose black and white film or color film for my weekend adventures and then I would wait in a coffee shop next to the camera shop while the man developed my film. The camera shop owner didn’t speak a word of english and was probably the person I spoke to in full Italian conversations the most while I was there. When I flew home after months abroad I had an entire suitcase of photos and negatives. It’s crazy to think that now, those would all be stored on a phone.
So now that I have a phone that not only takes endless amounts of photos but has editing software on it, my hobby is easier and more accessible. When we watch tv at night, I play around with photos and filters and new photography apps. All of the photos I am showing today in these quick & easy tips for editing photos are from my iPhone. BUT even when I break out my big camera, I email my favorites to my phone and edit them there. So after this tutorial, you can pick some of your favorite photos (even really old ones) and email them to your phone to see what you can do!
I share photos on our blog’s Instagram: @thechirpingmoms BUT my favorite photos stay on my travel Instagram page, @travelwewill and on my personal Instagram page. OK now for tips!
Quick & Easy Tips for Editing Photos
First… a few tips for taking some fun pictures:
1. First, take a bunch of photos. I know some moms use the “burst” feature and have great luck with that. I haven’t explored it a ton yet. Most of my best photos, I would say start with about 30-40 photos that I browse through and find my favorite.
2. Don’t go crazy on trying to make them all smile. I have never said “everyone smile” and all 4 kids look at me and smile. Not one time. If I say that maybe 2 of the 4 will look and smile. So if I am trying to get a more posed photo I just have to accept the 50% smiling rate. My favorite photos are more candid. When we travel, especially at the beach, I like getting photos when they are just playing and having fun. With this, you can also explore more with angles…. next tip
3. Try out different angles and composition. Kids, especially those wild and crazy little toddlers you are trying to photograph, are much smaller than you. If you stand with your phone and shoot the photo straight at them vs getting down on the ground, you’ll see a big difference. If they’re playing, trying getting all the way on the ground and tilt the camera up for a different angle (see photo above of the 2 girls on the beach in the winter). Also, photos where the kids are in the picture but your focal point is something else (like the pillars in the beach photo below).
All of the side by side photos in the post are before and after just using the apps mentioned in the post.
1. If you took a bunch of photos, pic your 2 to 3 favorites. Sometimes edited, your “2nd choice” becomes your first, so edit more than 1 version.
2. Do not zoom in or crop on the phone before editing the color, do that last
3. Apps: My 3 favorites (in order of most used): Lightroom, ColorStory and Snapseed. All are now free, so I’d recommend getting all 3 and seeing which you like best. I used them all for different reasons.
Here’s a bit about each one:
The Lightroom App
I just found out that Lightroom is now free for iPhone and iPad (please someone correct me if I am wrong). I hesitated to recommend this in the past because of the fee associated with it. I have a subscription through my desktop program and added it to my phone but will probably cancel the subscription because ALL the features I use are on my phone anyway! Lightroom I use to manually adjust photos. There are lots of presets you can download (and buy) but with Lightroom, personally, I like to do it myself so it looks like natural adjustment and not a filter.
See above for all the numbers/ where to adjust for these tips:
- Go into Lightroom and click the + to add a photo from your camera roll.
- Go into the little box at the bottom to “crop” and there will be a spot to straighten. See how they auto straighten it and then you can adjust from there
- Click on Light. Here’s where the magic happens… The exposure brightens it. Start there. Then adjust the contrast, highlights and shadows to your preference or leave those alone. If there’s snow or sky that you want even brighter without over exposing, use the “Whites” and brighten it there.
- Then head over to Color. Here I usually just add a little “Vibrance” to make colors pop.
Here is a before and after:
The ColorStory App
Is all that Lightroom stuff too much work and playing around with color, whites, etc? No problem… head to ColorStory instead! Here you can adjust brightness, etc too OR just use the filters. Something key to note with the filters – sometimes if you add a filter it looks “too filtered”….you know what I mean: fun and funky but maybe not something you are going to print and frame. When you are on a filter, along the bottom, you can adjust how much of the filter is added. For example, if it’s a really bright filter, look at the difference between the full filter and just adding a little bit of it.
With ColorStory, the app is free but you do pay for some filters. I would recommend buying 1 or 2. The filter set, for $1.99 comes with a whole bunch of filters. My 2 favorite “Packs” I bought are Fresh and On the Road. Fresh has all bright fun light filters and On the Road….as totally cheesy as this sounds… makes for cool travel photo filters when you are “on the road”. Photo above (sunglasses) edited with Fresh filter using the Sky selection and adjusted half way.
The Snapseed App
So anytime I read tips on best photo apps people LOVE Snapseed. I also feel like they are more talented photographers than me… so I try and use it and learn more about all the things it does. I am still learning. But see here: It does a ton. There is a way to use the “healing” to remove unwanted objects from the picture. For now, the main thing I use Snapseed for is black and white photos. I have tried all the apps and think this one is the best for black and whites.
There are a number of presets and then you can adjust the coloring using the “brightness” bar at the top. Again, Snapseed does SO much more, but I am still learning it.
I also got better at taking photos and editing by browsing other mom’s photos for inspiration. A few of my favorites:
Favorite Photographers on Instagram for Inspiration:
- Gray Benko: Gray is a professional photographer and takes the coolest photos of her kids. @graybenko
- Allie Royall: She helped me edit a photo once for a project we were working on and got me hooked on using some of these apps. Her feed is bright and fun! @allieroyall
- Hannah Carpenter: Her candid photos are amazing. @hannahcarpenter
- Wanderlust Crew: The most colorful travel Instagram around @wanderlust.crew
Do you have any other questions about photos? Please share any photos you edit after these tips. I would love to see them!
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