If you are reading this, then you are probably a mom and probably have a smartphone. You might even be holding that phone in your hand right now. It probably cost you a few hundred bucks or so, but by the end of this article, it will be priceless. Does that sound like an exaggeration? Actually, it’s not! And I will tell you why. Do me a favor and quickly recall one of your favorite childhood memories. Now imagine if it was on video. Yep. You see where I’m going with this?
Now let’s fast forward 30 years from now. Imagine all the memories that your children will be able to share with their own kids and their grandchildren’s grandchildren. So who will be responsible for recording the family’s history? Yes, that’s right — you will! So let’s get started on what it will take to transform yourself from smartphone mom into filmmaker mom.
1. Be prepared. Make sure your phone is charged and there is plenty of memory space. Remember, it’s always best to film more than you need and then trim the fat later. For example, let’s imagine that Daddy is bringing little Timmy home for a surprise birthday party, and Mommy is waiting on the other side of that door with all of Timmy’s friends. In this case, Mommy needs plenty of memory on her phone so that she can already be in position (more on this later) and recording well before that door flies open. Remember. Always better to over record and trim the fat later.
2. Be in position (ideal for filming at the beach or in your backyard). I like to call this method fishing for shots. I call it fishing because you pick a spot and let the action come to you. Kids are full of energy, and they don’t stay still, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself by feeling like you have to chase them all over the place with your phone. Step back away from the action and turn your phone sideways (instant wide angle) before filming. Now you have just eliminated the need to move at all. Don’t worry though, sooner or later they will come closer to you. Pick one spot where you think your kid will eventually end up. You see? Now you’re fishing. On top of that, your shot is now stable because you’re not forced to move around erratically, which is why the majority of cell phone videos are not great. Too much camera shake! Remember. Fish, don’t hunt.
3. Memories have sounds (great for when your child is first learning to talk). There’s an old saying in the filmmaking world that goes, “Your audience will overlook poor shots, but they will never overlook poor audio.” Audio is a whole other world that we won’t get into, but just remember this: Know where your mic on your phone is, and don’t cover it up with your hand while filming! Also, the closer the mic is to your child’s voice, the better it will sound. So if you really want to hear every word they say, get close. But if you want to get a good shot of them running all over the place, revert back to tip no. 2 and remember to step back for your “wide shot.”
4. Good lighting equals good skin. I was hesitant to get into this one because it can be a very technical subject, but I will make sure to keep it simple. Plus, I would feel bad if I didn’t share the secrets of how to make your child’s skin look nice and soft! Yes, moms, you can steal this trick for yourself, too. Two words — window light. The first thing to know here is that you don’t want to point your phone directly towards the window. This is a sure way to push the camera on your phone way past its limits and get bad-looking images. So make sure the window is always off camera and pay attention to where that nice, natural light is landing. Oh, and turn off your house lights — these are bad for skin tones. Your skin will never look properly colored or soft with indoor overhead lighting. Another big thing to keep in mind here is that this trick will not make your child’s skin look good if the sunlight is shining directly through the window. It must be indirect. Direct sunlight is very harsh, and it shows all the imperfections of human skin, plus it stresses the camera out keeping it from performing it’s best. Remember. Your camera on your phone does not like extremes. Extreme bright or very dark, and you’re in trouble. Find shade, find clouds and find window light. This is where your child’s skin will look the most natural and healthy.
5. Bonus tip. Most important of all, don’t be afraid to have fun and live in the moment. It’s okay to not record or even photograph every big moment of your child’s life. It’s amazing what the human mind can commit to memory when we are fully present in the moment. The priceless memories of your child that you capture on your cell phone will live on and be replayed forever, but remember not to sacrifice too much of the real thing because that only happens once.
About the Author
Trey Vollmer, Founder and Executive Producer of Vollmer Visuals, is a husband and soon-to-be father of his first child. Upon the writing of this bio, he and his wife, Sophia, are one day removed from learning the sex of their new baby! Oh, and he also has a passion for helping businesses grow through the power of video production. His company, Vollmer Visuals, is well versed in listening carefully to businesses and quickly uncovering all key areas where video can accelerate success and help to drive the business forward.