Top tips for better smartphone photos of your family this spring!

I was so honoured to be asked to write this special spring blog as guest blogger for Muddy Surrey, the Surrey branch of lifestyle blog Muddy Stilettos.  I love the Muddy way of doing things, gorgeous things for the busy, fashion conscious but not obsessed woman (or man!)

Check out the blog, and the rest of their content at

Sian’s Guest Blog for Muddy Surrey




Creating the perfect family holiday album – my 5 top tips!

5 super useful tips on creating the perfect holiday photo album

Even before I became a professional photographer (I still get a kick out of that – I get paid to do this!) I loved getting back from a trip and sorting out the photos into a kickass album.  Before online services that make photobooks were commonplace I used to stick them in scrap books and shop-bought albums and now I spend a happy few (ok many) hours laying them out in book production software (see here for my review of Saal Digital – my new favourite book service) and then waiting in anticipation for the printed book to arrive in the post.

We all take photos on holiday, whether with your phone, compact camera, SLR or mirrorless and it’s a shame to leave them languishing on your hardrive. Ok – so no one wants to sit through hours of someone else’s holiday photos (yawn!) but if you’ve got them in a book and someone asks you can show them, and they can flick through.  And next time you’re trying to remember something from the holiday, or just fancy reliving those memories, it’s so much nicer to grab the book from the shelf than to try and hunt them out on the computer.

So what makes a fab family holiday photo album I hear you ask?

Here are my 5 top tips;

1. Include the details.  If you know me you’ll know that this something I’m always banging on about – but I stand by it.  When you’re on holiday, take pictures of the little things; details of the sites in the town you’re visiting, interesting hotel features like taps and door handles, your breakfast, coffee or dessert for instance.  These are great to scatter through the album, giving a sense of the place you’ve been and adding variety (since most of your pictures will be of people!).  Getting good big-landscape shots is hard but these smaller things can be just as evocative.  You can use these as backgrounds if you’re making a book online or throw them in as a full page spread from time to time, either is nice.


2. Think about colour.  When you’re laying out your images think about grouping them in colour themes. The obvious thing to do is group the images by location, but look beyond that to images that work well together and have a colour theme or consistency to them.  If the colours in an image don’t compliment each other don’t organise them side by side, consider moving them to different pages.


3. Include the phone snaps! Most of us don’t take a big camera everywhere on holiday (ok some do!) but you usually have your phone and most camera phones now are good enough that you can print the images from them.  On my last trip I caught some great moments with the phone and with great mobile editing tools like Snapseed and Hipstamatic these are just as worthy of inclusion as any other photo.  I try to make my phone images look like phone images because I like that it gives me a different, kookier look than my SLR and I like the freedom to snap, edit and share quickly.  So whether you shot the whole trip on your phone, or just a few frames don’t feel they aren’t worthy and be sure to include them.


4. Keep it simple. Think about any professionally  produced travel photography book you’ve ever seen.  Did it have whacky layouts with loads of images on a page, all at jaunty angles and overlapping?  I doubt it. Were the backgrounds luminous pink or textured to look like a basket? I think not.  Did it have little sticker type cliparts all over?  There’s a reason for that – it looks naff!  So many online book producing services offer these features and they are often branded as holiday themed, or fun themed.  My advice is stick to neutral plain backgrounds, keep your images straight and don’t put more than 2 images on a page.  Any more than that and they end up so small they will be missed, or the page is so busy that it has no impact.  If you’ve got a great image make it big, even a full double page spread and watch people say wow as they turn the page.

5. Make sure you’re in it! As the person behind the camera we often forget to include images with us in.  These albums will be important to your family later down the line, and they’ll want to see you in them – even if you look like hell (see image below – the only one of me from our USA trip, a drowned rat after a rain storm in Charlotte!).  I’m the worst at sticking to this advice, but this is a case of do as I say, not as I do.  I’m getting better at it, there is as least one image from this year’s trip, compared to zero in previous years!