Laura Griffin Family photographer and videographer

Whether you have been filming your family for years now or are brand new to it, these 5 creative filming tips will help you step up your phone/DSLR filmmaking skills. Not only are they aimed at helping you improve your footage to look more aesthetically pleasing, but will hopefully allow you to look at life a little differently. 

Experiment with slow motion.

When things are slowed down, you often catch details that you might have normally missed, be it toddlers giving one of their mischievous glances or noticing the way their curls bounce when they run. Often scenes where there are fast(ish) movements are ideal for this. 

  • Blowing bubbles in the backyard
  • Jumping on the trampoline
  • Coming down the slide
  • Swinging along the zip line
Some info to help you get your phone set up for slow motion.

IMAGE QUALITY

720p (1280 columns x 720 rows of pixels) Lowest quality + smallest file size

1080P (1920 columns x 1080 rows of pixels) Standard for HD Displays

4k UHD (3840 columns x 2160 rows of pixels) Highest quality + largest file size

HOW TO CHANGE CAMERA SETTINGS

iPhone
samsung
HUAWEI
GOOGLE PIXEL

FRAMES PER SECOND (FPS) 

25*/30 fps** Real-time; looks more natural.

50*/60fps** Creates smoother shots because you are recording twice as many frames per second. Great for regular day motions that you want to slow down such as jumping, cycling, running.

100*/120fps** Very smooth and slow shots. Nice to use when there is fire, smoke, water, snow, rain things that move very quickly. This can also be fun to use when your kids are playing sports (kicking a ball, hitting a baseball, taking a shot).

 

*PAL system is what we use in Ireland and the majority of Europe. **NTSC system is what is used in the States & Japan. To learn more about fps & the various systems, click on the link below. 

more about frame rates

While they may be few and far between…

Look for the quiet moments.

When I’m filming families, I love it when there is an opportunity to capture these quiet, more intimate moments. For you, this could be filming a few seconds of your child who loves to read, being absorbed in their book in their favourite reading spot. Or maybe it is the younger ones creating their own little world by themselves in their bedroom amongst their toys.   

To film these moments, it’s not so much about being in the space with them but rather documenting them in their element that they will soon grow out of. 


Play with movement.

You can let the movement come to you.

Example 1 Set up your DIY tripod/stabiliser and have your baby roll, crawl or walk their way in and out of your camera frame. If they are older, maybe this could be them dancing or swimming through the frame.

Example 2 If you know your child is going to run into the arms of dad, anticipate the movement and have a wide shot locked on dad while your child runs into the frame and is  lifted, hugged, thrown into the air by dad. This is also a great setup as you’ll be able to capture dad’s facial expressions. 

You can follow the movement.

For those of you who have phone filming accessories such as a gimbal or other stabiliser, experiment with moving with your child. If, for example, you want to capture them riding their bike, try and run along side of them at the same pace or even in front of them (just make sure the path is clear!) While the gimbal will help with stablilzing the tracking shot, to help improve the shot, try and keep the camera as level as possible which may involve some awkward running…(it will be worth it).


Include only the good stuff.

You have a limited amount of space on your screen, so fill it with what is important to you. 

For those of you with newborns, maybe it is close ups of your baby’s eyes as they look up at you, or perhaps it’s their tiny fingers & toes that are just asking to be rubbed. Or it could be filling the frame with a wide shot that includes a foreground & background that add to the story. 

Your feet are the best zoom you have, so use them rather than the in-camera zoom to put you at the angle, distance and perspective that you want to be in. 


Try a new perspective.

Explore what it looks like if you film directly above them as they look up to you. Then try squatting down to their eye-level and see what the world looks like from that perspective. 

One example of where you could try this would be if your child is outside drawing with the sidewalk chalk, place your camera at the ground level and point it up towards their face as they draw. This allows you to capture their concentration and unique facial expression that you might not normally see. 

Lastly, as a friendly reminder when you are experimenting with your filming, if you are using your phone camera, make sure to hold it horizontally/landscape. Unless you are doing a video for TikTok, Instagram Stories/Reels or FB live, you don’t need to keep it vertical. Not only does this give you a lot more space in the frame to capture what is happening, but if/when you share or edit these clips, rather than seeing 2 long black lines along the side of your vertical clip, you will see a full 16×9 ratio clip that fills the frame. 

Hopefully these 5 creative filming tips help get your creative juices flowing and something you can test out the next time you pull out your phone. Even if you don’t take any footage after reading this post, hopefully when you are out and about, these tips will help you recognise those moments, perspectives or details that you might not have noticed before.