The Secret to Taking the Best Photos with Your Smartphone

It took me over two year to realize that the best photos I capture on my smartphone have been there all along. Right under my nose. And I’ve been using the same button to capture them with for years, all through my iPhone ownership from the iPhone 3Gs to the iPhone7 Plus, which I have now.

The secret to all of this is using the same native camera app that I’ve been using since I’ve owned an iPhone. The shutter button. It is used for both photos and video. It is a shutter release for the camera, and the record button for video.

What is the secret sauce? I’ll get to that in just a minute, just a little background first on how I came to find out. This secret is going to save you alot of heartache about missing that shot, or just getting a blurry shot trying to either get the subject in your frame, or creating camera shake when you press the camera button.

It’s all in the past, and I never miss a shot again. I also have over 1,500 videos on an unlisted YouTube channel of my son since the time he was born. So I’ve got the best of both worlds – video to capture his essence and photos that capture just a snapshot of his essence and some pretty special moments I would never have had if it weren’t for smartphone video.

When Sean was a baby, it was pretty simple to catch him in action because there wasn’t much action being taken yet. I could easily set up a tripod and capture him eating in his high chair while he was quietly but happily playing with a water mat on the high chair tray. The iPhone would be mounted on top and the camera set up nicely a few feet a way capturing everything he did in that fleeting moment that would be gone forever.

I didn’t realize that I was creating a lifetime of special moments captured forever in a ton of still photos, captured 60 frames a second. That’s 360 frames a minute. Or 360 photos a minute.

Now that Sean is 27 months and quickly growing and quickly moving, I realize how I don’t have the same abilities as I did when he couldn’t move that quickly. Also as I slowed down because of my diminished motor abilities. I lost some movement in my right leg due to my MS. so I’m not as quick on the trigger as I used to be. But I will never let that stop me from capturing his world and sharing that with family and friends. Regardless of how quickly I can be there to take a photo, I will always be ready with smartphone video, capturing it for me in HD and going in to select my favorite frame later.

I have taken some amazing photos from my smartphone videos of Sean, like the first time he saw a firefly, and he video captured it lighting up in a split second.

That was the frame I selected for my photo.  It’s not the most crisp shot, due to quick motion and very low light, but it is a moment I would have never caught were it not for my smartphone capturing all the surrounding frames in HD video.

A firefly lighting up for a split second captured forever by smartphone video.

A firefly lighting up for a split second captured forever by smartphone video.

When Sean turned one, I captured the moment the flash went off on his photographers camera for his smash cake photo shoot.

I would have missed it all if I were fumbling for the camera button and the photo would have been blurry trying to get the shot.

And as I watch all the smartphone moms fumbling with their iPhones trying to get their child’s attention to pose for the perfect shot with a flurry of still shots fired off in succession, I wonder how many missed opportunities there were during that same time to capture that perfect frame in a video as the camera is all set up and already taking 360 photos a second.

So I highly recommend hitting the record button for a video instead of trying to capture one perfect photo from very few.

How to get those photos from your video:

There are a couple of ways to get those photos in HD onto your camera roll so you can share them and save them.

1. Screenshot: The home button and power button when pressed simultaneously will capture a low res version of your photo when viewing your video. If you only want to share it in social media, this will work fine, but if you want to save it forever and even print it out, I recommend the second way:

2. Video 2 Photo: I love this app because it lets me scroll through my video frame by frame and select that perfect image from thousands of frames it might have captured. This is the only app I’ve found that you can zoom in on and actually see if it’s the perfect shot. This might mean the blink of an eye or going from blurry to sharp. I use this app to snag a photo from every video I take on my smartphone. It is available for both iPhone and Android.

Video 2 Photo on iTunes

I share my smartphone secret with you with the hope that it will change the way you take photographs of your little one forever with your smartphone, the quickest way you will capture photos wherever you are and whenever you can. Taking smartphone video will make your life much easier and I hope you never miss a shot again. Fo you have any questions or thoughts about this secret process I’ve been using to capture my son’s most precious childhood memories?

Please share!

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