Capturing festive moments with your smartphone

Roasted pork belly shot with an Apple iPhone XS Max using portrait mode.
Roasted pork belly shot with an Apple iPhone XS Max using portrait mode.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Whether it is having reunion dinners, visiting relatives or renewing acquaintances, there will be great moments you want to capture with your smartphone.

Here are some handy tips for taking "Instagrammable" smartphone shots during the festive season.

Photographing Food

- Don't just point and shoot. Take time to reposition a dish for a nicer angle, or shift its ingredients-in a hygienic way, of course-to show the focus of the dish. For example, with "siew yoke" or roast pork belly, make sure you get the different layers of the roast meat to front the photo

- Find a clean background. If the dish is to "pop" in the photo, you need a background that does not distract. Move other dishes away if you want a dish to stand out and ensure its background is devoid of clutter.

- Keep it simple. Unless you are a professional food stylist, taking a single photo of multiple dishes will always be a challenge. Don't try to fit more than two dishes into a shot, so you can style them easily.

- Experiment with different angles. Some dishes, like steamboat, tend to look better when shot from a top-down angle, while others such as fried chicken might look tastier when photographed from the side.

- Use the depth-of-field or bokeh mode when taking close-ups of dishes. Blurring the background allows viewer to focus on a main subject. This is especially helpful when photographing dishes with similar stuff, like a plate of pineapple tarts.


Pineapple tarts shot with an Apple iPhone XS Max using portrait mode. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Photographing People

- Bring a selfie stick. It allows you to easily capture yourself at a higher angle so you can avoid the dreaded double-chin look. In addition, some selfie sticks like Xiaomi Wireless Selfie Kit ($38) double as a tripod for group photos.

- Use the Portrait mode when photographing one person. It blurs the background and lets your subject stand out. With some smartphones like the Apple iPhone XS and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, you can change the aperture after taking the picture to adjust the background blur to your liking.

- Take advantage of lighting. Try to make use of whatever light that is available. For instance, I like to have my subjects by the window, as it provides natural light at an angle. The resulting portraits usually look more dynamic.

- Capture emotions. As a smartphone is not as intrusive as a DSLR camera, people are usually more relaxed and tend to be more natural when you are photographing them. Look out for candid moments to capture that priceless expression.

- Position your subjects for group photos. Often, group photos of relatives during gatherings tend to look like "firing squad" photos, as they all line up in a straight line facing the camera. Try to position them in different places and facing different directions. For example, the grandfather can sit in the middle of the sofa facing 45 degrees outwards, while the tall ones stand behind the sofa and others sit on the sofa's handles facing outwards-and so on. But make sure everyone is looking at the camera when you take the shot. And smile! It is Chinese New Year, after all.