I'm so excited to introduce the Nest's very first guest contributor to our blog! I always look forward to having Erin Purdy of Erin Purdy Photographer come to the Nest because any time she visits I know that I am going to get to swoon over the seriously gorgeous baby pictures she captures during our Nest Mini Sessions. Erin is an incredible photographer, a traveler, artist, wife, and mom. When she's taking pictures of our families, Erin uses her big "fancy" camera... but... she tells me that when she's capturing pictures of her own children, her phone is often her go-to piece of equipment. How does she capture beautiful images just using her phone? Today she's sharing her tricks of the trade with us.

By: Erin Purdy


Photography is the study of light, so it goes without saying that lighting is the most important consideration. The most beautiful time to photograph is early or late in the day when sunlight is gentle and soft. If you’re photographing mid-day, try to find heavy shade, like on the north side of your house. Or try shooting indoors, paying attention to how the light falls across your subject or illuminates something interesting. 

As a general rule, I leave the flash off on my phone. If absolutely necessary (like taking a picture of the kids snuggled up in bed), I’ll use it, but it’s also fun to try different forms of light, like turning on a lamp or a flashlight or using another device to create the light.


Composition simply refers to how the elements in a photograph come together to create a story or visual interest. Perfectly centering your subject in the photograph makes a strong statement. I also love the rule of thirds. Imagine your screen divided into three sections: top, center, bottom. Find the horizon and take photos with the horizon in the top third, centered, and bottom third. Now try taking the horizon all the way down to the bottom edge of the photo. Same goes for dividing the frame into the left third, centered, and right third. Find a subject and play with how you line them up along the rule of thirds. Compare the images and take note of which looks best to you.

You’ll notice that the lighting will change as you switch your focal point. To take better control of this, tap on your screen and hold. You will see a square pop up - that will be your new focal point instead of the phone automatically deciding the focal point. This alone will change the lighting, but you can take it one step further - once you see the sun icon, slide your finger up or down to adjust the lighting. 

Check out this beautiful video illustrating key compositional concepts in photography: 

Pay attention to other elements within your photo, like clutter, and remove any distracting items. If you need to get closer to your subject, use your feet rather than the zoom on your camera. If you can’t get closer but still want a closer shot, it’s better to edit and crop the the photo than to use zoom, which tends to add grain and camera shake.


The rule of thumb is to get it right in camera first, but in real life, especially with kids, that’s not always possible. There are countless apps for editing, but I like to keep it simple and use SnapSeed. It’s a free app, and my favorite part is how easy it is to remove distracting elements using the spot healing tool. It also allows me to adjust brightness, exposure, and contrast better than the basic camera roll editor. 

Follow @momtog on instagram ( for different weekly photographers who provide loads of tips on both phone photography and using DSLR cameras.


Chances are you’re not printing your photos often enough. I highly recommend Mpix ( and their app. Their color and quality of paper is the best in the consumer market, and the app makes it so easy to order prints on a regular basis, whether from your camera roll or Instagram. They also produce beautiful wall art and other photo gifts. Artifact Uprising ( is another great option for Instagram prints, and Chatbooks are wonderful little albums that you can set up to print automatically from Instagram once you hit a specific number of new photos. You can also print albums through Chapbooks by hashtag, so if you aren’t already using hashtags, it’s a good reason to start!

Lastly, be present. I often don’t take many photos of my family because I want to enjoy the moment and make memories for my kids, not just document their lives. But when the light is right and the moment is perfect, you can be sure I’ll have my phone in hand. 

Follow me on instagram, @erinpurdyphotography, and tag me when you try these tips!

Have fun and happy snapping!



Erin Purdy