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Holiday: 3 tips for great family photos
Timer & a stack of books are your best friend
As we all get together again (perhaps?) over the holiday weekends, the cameras will be coming out, and I want you all to look your best, so a few refresher tips on how to get great family shots.
I recently penned a piece for AARP on the subject and why not click the link to read all, and watch the awesome video we did with the Cayetano family. Or just follow my cheat sheet here with 3 basic rules for better holiday family pix.
Seek the Window light
Most living rooms have unpleasing overhead light that produces shadows on our faces. Get your subjects, if you can, to as close to the window light as possible, to illuminate them from the rays coming through the window, which is as soft and natural as they come. What you don’t want to do is stack people in front of the window, because the smartphone camera will expose for the window instead of their faces, turning them into silhouettes.
Group shots: find the chairs
Nobody likes those big group shots with back rows of people hiding, their faces obscured. One way to get around this is to stack your group shot. Get a bunch of chairs and put them in the front row, for the grandparents or other VIPs, and have the rest of the brood stand behind them. If it’s a really big group, have the kids kneel on the floor with the VIPs. Ideally, there’s a tripod in the house, and the camera timer gets the shot with everybody in it.
Stack of books and timer
So let’s assume there is no tripod. Let’s set up a group shot like we did in the photo above, with the three generations of the Cayetanos. The challenge here for a flattering photo is that the camera has to be eye level with the group. Otherwise it’s a shot looking up everyone’s neck and chins. Not pretty.
Stack a bunch of books on a table to get there, and I’m not talking 2 or 3. For the Cayetano shot, we used over 20 of them. From there, you can lean the phone against one of the books, and use the selfie camera to frame the shot. Then click on the camera timer to take the photo.
Beware: within the camera app of the iPhone, the timer is initially hidden. To find it, click the up arrow at the top of the screen, and after the row of icons pops up, swipe right. The timer is near the end of choices. You have a choice of 3 or 10 seconds. I prefer 10, as it gives us more time to get ready. The timer is easier to find on Androids, where the timer isn’t hard to find, and offers settings for 2, 5 or 10 seconds.
Happy portrait time! I’m around for the entire weekend, so if you get stuck, just reach out to me via this newsletter. Happy to answer questions and help!
Read all about it on the Flipboard Storyboard!
New Podcast, all about Mobile photography
I’m thrilled to announce a new podcast for all you fans of mobile photography. My pal Scott Bourne and I have teamed up for the weekly “iPhone Photo Show,” devoted to tips on how to shoot your phone camera like a pro.
We all love taking photos on the camera in our pocket, the iPhone, but are you getting the most out of what many consider to be the greatest mobile camera ever, one that now rivals DSLRs and Mirrorless pro bodies? How many tips and tricks do you know?
Are you up on Night and Cinematic Mode, swear by the Rode Wireless Go mics and the Adobe Lightroom Mobile app, and what's your favorite timelapse technique?
If you're like many, there's always a new iPhone camera technique you're eager to learn, and we're here to help.
New episodes will post every Friday on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Stitcher. Please listen and let us know what you think and what you'd like to hear about.
Scott, who is best known for his wildlife photography and massive Twitter following, is also a respected educator and journalist who has been chronicling the Apple universe since the 1980s, and was a co-host of the MacBreak Weekly podcast. Both of us have been covering the iPhone since the initial launch in 2007.
If you're like many, there's always a new iPhone camera technique you're eager to learn, and we're here to help. In the coming weeks we'll be exploring the best hidden features of the standard iPhone camera app, tips on shooting with the iPhone underwater and look ahead to what features we might be seeing on the next iPhone camera.
A request to newsletter readers: we've started a Flipboard magazine where listeners can upload their favorite shots and have us discuss and critique them. Please join and submit your work via this link: https://flip.it/mQIJKq
Reach out to us with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Holiday Hacks: be aware!
Speaking of the holidays, please do me a favor: don’t click any links in an e-mail today.
It’s the oldest game in the hacker playbook, and one my supposedly smart and relatively tech savvy wife Ruth fell for this week, despite years of being told not to.
When “Netflix” wrote and said our account was closed, and that she needed to click the link to re-activate it, she asked me about it, worried we wouldn’t be able to watch Netflix anymore. She didn’t fall for the bogus phishing attempt.
But the following day, when the “United States Postal Service” supposedly texted her with concerns about a package that needed address confirmation, she did the insanely stupid thing and clicked the link, despite logic. Why would the post office have her e-mail address? And who sends packages via the USPS these days?
You know the rest.
It stinks that we have to be on guard like this. We lived through generations of “junk” mail that arrived to our home everyday. Most of it was crappy offers to sell our home or buy stuff we didn’t want, or promise deals on things that seemed too good to be true. But they didn’t have come-ons attached that grabbed hold of your home!
The holidays are prime time for hackers, as we let down our guard during these slower times, and we get deluged with appeals to update our credit cards, check the status of a package, do something in return for a free gift card and more.
In Ruth’s case, once she clicked on the link, it took control of her Safari browser app, asking for confirmation of her e-mail address. Had she offered that, it would have been way worse.
From Safari, she wasn’t able to web browse, because some phony outfit named feudhl.com was in control. Apple suggested she immediately change her lock-screen password and reset the phone to factory defaults, which she did. Everything is back to normal again.
So please everyone, remember that if someone you don’t know has a link they want you to click, don’t. Period. Let them hound you over and over again instead. And then still refuse.
More posing tips
Just in time for the holiday, my friend Charlotte “Ginger” DiNunzio has two great posing tips to offer you. I pulled out this snippet from our Manhattan Beach Photowalk video as a refresher. Walking shots and shaking out your sillies do wonders for making us all feel more natural.
And for those of who aren’t yet sick of holiday tunes, my annual take on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
Thanks as always for reading, watching and listening, and have a great holiday!