By Leif Ernst

Got a smart phone with a camera in it? Who doesn’t? It’s the 21st century and the devices we live our lives through are amazing pieces of technology. This technology helps us stay connected with friends and family but also separates us from those that are right next to us.

I’d like to help you use your smart phone, more specifically the camera, to save special memories and moments in time as quickly as possible so that you can get back to living in the moment and not waste precious time behind your smart phone’s camera.

Missing Moments

It’s not hard to see the impact smart phones and their cameras have had on the world. Almost everywhere you go there will be someone with their phone out attempting to capture the moment. However, there’s always that one person that spends the entire time looking through the camera on their phone rather than enjoying the moment. I’ve witnessed it at national parks, dance recitals, family outings, etc. It can be a hard balance to find and I’d like to help you find it.

Quick Pictures

The key to finding a good balance of documenting memories but also living in the moment and enjoying those memories, without a phone in your hand, is learning how to take high quality pictures/video as quickly as possible so that you don’t have to spend the entire time hoping to capture the perfect moment. The human mind is an amazing thing. All it takes is seeing one picture to spark a flood of memories from a single vacation. There’s no need to have 40 hours worth of video footage and 1,000 pictures from a single trip to Arches National Park. Instead, a couple of high quality images combined with one-minute worth of video can be more effective and easier to enjoy years later.

This article focuses on the pictures part of that equation. I will address the video part in a future post. To help you learn how to take quality pictures, I’ve found a few YouTube videos that will show you how to take high quality pictures using nothing more than your smart phone.

Video Tutorials

This video teaches you some of the basics of photography and how to best arrange a picture. To apply this during your day-to-day, you want to practice being aware of the environment you’re in and watching for that perfect spot to stop, pose, and snap a well setup picture so that you can move on with your day without having to worry about taking more pictures.

The next video will show you how to edit pictures on your phone. I find this helpful with living in the moment because it helps me know that all I need to do is frame a picture well and then snap the picture without having to take the time to make sure that everything is perfect. Instead, I can open the image later and edit it to look as good as I remember it looking in person. Keep in mind that this is not a fix-all. If there’s a shadow going across one of the faces in the picture, you can’t simply edit that shadow out. So, do your best to take pictures that you know will edit well later.


Here’s a quick visual representation of these principals.

This picture is a picture of me taking a picture of Connor. There’s nothing that leads the eye to me as the subject and there’s not a good contrast between the subject and the background.

Now look at the picture that I took of Connor (taking a picture of me).

The lines of the background help direct your focus to Connor as the subject of the picture while the colors give a bright contrast without stealing the focus. This was all done in thirty seconds leaving me the rest of my day to focus on work instead of capturing an example image for this blog post.

Wrapping It Up

The key to success here is to give it time. Don’t try to become an expert the same day that you read this. Instead, practice overtime. You’ll get better and better with time. Save these two videos so that you can go back to them in the future. Explore other videos on YouTube to help as well. But remember, the point to all of this is reducing the amount of time you spend on your phone so that you can enjoy the moment.