Photo: Louise Gleeson
I had baby journals and photo albums for my first two children, but found it very hard to keep up with them when my two youngest came along. Then smart phones arrived and changed everything. I can carry a camera wherever we go, as well as write short stories about the photos I take using online platforms like Instagram. The memories I'm chronicling are vibrant and colourful and read more like a beautiful picture book than the traditional memory keepers did.
Though I don't consider myself a photographer, I really enjoy the process of snapping, editing and sharing photos of our family moments and I often get asked for tips.
Here are my go-to tricks for creating your own family picture book (all photos shown are taken from my Instagram account).
Carry your camera wherever you go. You're capturing moments, and the best ones are unplanned. I'm not telling you to have it out all the time (please don't). But there are special moments in every day adventures; you'll know them when they happen.
Keep the lens clean, because if you're anything like me your phone spends a lot of time hanging out in some pretty messy places.
Hold the phone like a camera—with two hands—and use the screen like you would a viewfinder on a regular camera. This way you can be sure to keep the shot steady, as well as see the composition of the photo.
I don't use the flash on my iPhone. In fact, I have it turned off. These cameras work so well with natural light, and flash photos on smart phones often look flat. Besides, we all know what kids do once they learn to anticipate a flash—they close their eyes. In addition, the delay before the flash fires means the moment is often lost by the time you take your photo!
Not having the flash as an option means I have to look for light—preferably natural light. The more light you have, the less likely you are to end up with (the dreaded) blurry photos, too.
Read more: Baby book guilt>
To avoid squinting kids, try to take your photo when the light isn't directly behind or above them. Although pictures often turn out best if the light isn't directly behind your subject, don't be afraid to snap a silhouette photo if that's the way the moment is unfolding. Sometimes, such photos turn out beautifully as is, or you can brighten the photo and adjust its contrast and warmth by using an editing app afterwards.Photo: Louise Gleeson
To see the world through your kids' eyes, you need to bring yourself down to their level—physically. Ask yourself what your little ones are seeing in that moment and frame it with your camera. Instead of zooming in and out (which can cause your photos to become grainy or blurry), move closer with your feet. Crouch, lie down, snap them from below and above.
When your kids look back on these photos later, they'll be reminded what it felt like at that exact moment in time.
One of the best features of a smart phone camera is being able to take several shots of the same moment without a lot of fuss. I will snap five or more frames and then tuck my phone away until I have time to edit. I do all of my editing with apps, although some people prefer to work on a computer where it's easier to see the photos and you can make use of more powerful editing tools.
Choose an app that you find user-friendly and suitable for the type of photos you are taking. Again, I'm taking photos of kids, so I like to be able to adjust light, warmth, and saturation. My preferred apps are: Snapseed, Afterlight, and Aviary Photo Editor (all available in Android versions).
There are so many apps out there for adding flair to your photos—and they just keep coming! Your best bet is to look for photos that you like and then ask the photographer which apps they use (on platforms like Instagram, photos often have hashtags of the apps). Because I mostly take family photos, I go for fun and light-hearted. I discovered blogger Chantelle Ellem after falling in love with the way she captures her family's moments. Her new app Little Moments gives you the option of adding text, filters and adorable designs. My favourite feature of this app is the daily photo prompt—sometimes a little push takes you to great places.
Some other apps that I use are A Beautiful Mess, Hipstamatic, Color Effects, Framatic and Pic Collage (many are available in Android version, or will be soon).
One of the aspects I love most about photo-sharing platforms is the conversations that happen because of something my photo made another person feel or think. Whether it's just to tell me that my kids are hilarious or that the photography was good, the feedback is always appreciated. My favourite sharing platforms are Instagram and Facebook. Other popular platforms are Tumblr, Flickr and Pinterest. If you don't want your photos to be cropped by the sharing apps, you can use the popular Cropic app to allow you to upload full-size photos.
If you'd prefer to preserve the photos for your eyes only, there are some fabulous and easy-to-use apps that take your photos right out of your phone and into a photobook (no more guilt about unprinted baby photos!). Try Blurb or Mosaic—the possibilities are endless.
Read more: 8 digital baby book ideas that are easier than a scrapbook>
6 must-have apps for new moms>
Get organized, and keep track of every precious moment, with these essential apps for new moms and dads, including our very own Milestones app!