Educator Resources

Smartphone photography: Capturing the magic of your business with better photos

Great photos don’t require an expensive camera, big photography team, or fancy studio. If you have a smartphone, you already have everything you need to take great photos without breaking the bank! We’ll walk you through how to use your phone to capture the magic of your business — and teach you how to be a photography pro in the process.

Keep your subjects in focus 

When it comes to taking the perfect photo for your classes, start with clarity and focus. If you take photos with your phone, you’ll see that your camera auto-focuses as you prepare to take an image. If, for any reason, this doesn’t happen, here’s what you can do. Locate your subject on your screen and tap on your subject. Your camera will autofocus on your subject and slightly blur their background for a better visual effect.

Take more photos than you think you’ll need  

Kids are always moving — which can make taking their photo tricky. iPhones and similar Androids often have a burst mode, your secret weapon in capturing the best (and most) images possible. You can use burst mode in one of two ways.

  • Drag your finger: As you take a photo, continue to hold your finger on the screen and slide your finger to the left (if taking portrait) or down (if taking landscape). As you do this, a counter will appear and you will see it start to take multiple pictures at once (burst), and you can select from that group which one is the best.
  • Adjust your settings: Start by going into your settings and locating your camera icon. In that section, you will see an option that says “Use Volume Up for Burst.” Go ahead and make sure this is turned on by clicking the little circle icon on the right. By doing this, you allow your volume up button to not only take an image, but now if you hold the button down, it will also take multiple photos (burst) like the option above.

Both work the same, just in two different ways. Test out both and see which one is best for you. 

Be thoughtful about photo composition 

Photography composition refers to how objects are arranged in a photo. Getting the composition of your photos right can make a huge difference in how you portray your activities. The best thing we can do for this is help set up your grid on your camera.

To start, we are going to go back into settings and find the camera icon. In the camera setting, locate the grouping “Composition” underneath that you will see a “Grid” option; go ahead and make sure this is switched on. When you go back into your camera, you will have a 3x3 grid that you can use to locate the center of the frame and line it up with the ground or walls to frame your images.

Zoom the right way 

When it comes to zooming in on your subjects, not all phones are created equally. To Zoom without distorting image quality, your best option is to move closer to your subject if you want more of a detailed shot. The zoom option on your phone is convenient but is often best used for larger pictures of landscape or wide-angle images. By moving closer to your subject, you not only can frame it better, but you also get a more beautiful picture at the end

Exposure 101: Don’t get blinded by the light 

Lighting and exposure are two of the most important things to consider when you want to bring a natural feel to your photos. While taking pictures indoors, allow the sunlight to come through your windows to brighten up an image if things seem a tad dark. While the sun provides that natural light, you’ll want to take pictures with the sun at your back, not facing the camera. With the light at your back, you’ll avoid glare and over-exposure and allow your camera to adapt naturally.

While taking pictures outdoors, you will want to take a similar approach to shooting inside. Make sure that the sun is at your back and your subject is in front. You can also utilize shade and other natural dimming options to darken your images if they are coming out too bright.

If you would like to adjust the exposure manually, you can do that directly on your phone camera. When you tap the screen to focus on your subject, a sun icon appears alongside a long line. If you drag the sun up, you will expose more of your image, and if you slide the sun icon down, you will darken the image. You can see these changes happen directly on your phone so you can adjust to get the perfect image.

Add depth to portraits

When you think of depth in photos, you might think of how a subject looks against a background. In photography, depth of field (or DOF) is the distance between the nearest and the farthest objects in acceptably sharp focus in an image. Your phone will automatically add depth of field to your images as you focus on a subject, so most of your photos will have a pretty perfect balance, but if you would like to add a bit more you can utilize “Portrait Mode” to emphasize the subject.

One thing to note is that portrait mode should be used for one type of image: portraits! If you are trying to take a picture of several things in one frame it will come out blurry and unorganized.

To use portrait mode, simply open your camera app. Under the preview of the image, you will see a yellow highlighted section showing you what camera option you have selected. By swiping the screen to the left you will see the preview screen will change, and the yellow selection will now say “Portrait.”

As you begin framing your subject, you will get notifications telling you if you are too close or too far, and when you have it just right, you will be able to take the picture. You can adjust the lighting mood with the spheres located on the preview screen, but the recommended “Natural Light” will get you the best all-around image.

Don’t wear too many hats 

Ask someone to be dedicated to capturing photos of you while you are teaching. You’re one person — and trying to teach and take photos at the same time can be tough. Enlist some help improve how you structure your activities and  provide more of a chance to connect with your audience as you can be featured in the pictures and can also help capture things you might have missed.

Get creative with angles

To produce images that bring your activities to life, you’re going to have to think like a kid. Have fun with it! Getting down to the perspective of children and taking pictures from their point of view not only gets you more engaged but also produces images that really show how much fun kids have in your class. Get creative by adjusting composition and angle to really show how potential customers will interact with your activities.

Interact with your subjects 

Achieving photos that don’t look staged can be difficult at times so making photos fun can drastically increase the natural feel of the images. Make a game out of your photoshoot to lighten and brighten the unnatural mood created by having a camera in the room. Consider showing a timeline of what your class looks like to really show parents what they can expect when they book with your business. It may seem easiest to show images of kids as they are sitting still and focusing but getting images of kids in action and engaging with others will increase your interactions and interest greatly. 

Ready to start taking great photos? We can’t wait to see what you shoot! Once your photos are complete, share your success with the Sawyer team by tagging us on social @HelloSawyer or sending our team an email at

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