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Phone Videography Tips | Part 3

phone video tips

It’s the last installment of Cell Phone Videography Tips series. Don’t cry. It’ll be ok. Let me know what kind of tips and tricks you want me to write about next and I’ll get on it!

Week 1, we talked about tips for taking the video. Week 2 was all about editing. Today, we are going to figure out what to do with the videos once you take them!

Tip 1:

  • Get them off your phone and onto your computer. You might can email them to yourself or you might have to plug in your phone. I automatically upload my videos to Google Cloud, so I can then pull them onto my computer that way. I get that you are wondering why you need them on your computer if you already have them floating around in space, but just humor me.

Tip 2:

  • Now, take your videos from your computer and put them on an external drive. The basic rule of thumb is to have your videos in at least two places – 1 hard drive and 1 online backup. Computers have a way of getting filled up and then being tossed out. Think of all the files on your last computer. Did you really transfer them all? Would you even know if you did? Probably not. External hard drives are inexpensive and can save you the headache of transferring files or filling up all the space on your computer.

Tip 3:

  • Get yourself a private (or not) YouTube channel. I have two YouTube accounts. My business one is public, but my personal one is private. I have it set to only allow people to see the video if I have sent them the direct link to it. This way I can share all my videos with family, but no the world. It’s a good way to keep CPS from having evidence. Just kidding….  I also keep myself signed into my Youtube account on my phone so I can immediately upload the videos as I take them. It really couldn’t be any easier to keep your videos safe online. You can also choose Facebook or Instagram as somewhere to share and store your videos. I love making short 15 second videos for Instagram. It becomes addicting!

Here is my first instagram video I made of the kids this summer.

Now, we have absolutely no reason to start recording and keeping those awesome memories that surround us every day. I’ve showed you mine, now you show me yours! Link up in the comments.

Phone Videography Tips | Part 2

Last week I laid out five super easy tips for taking better cell phone videos. And I know you guys are already feeling like award winning film makers, yeah?

Today is going to be about editing – or lack there of. We are not going to get into serious editing tips, no IMovie or Wundershare tutorials or anything of that sort. Because honestly, unless you make films for a living or just really enjoy spending your down time editing, no one has that much time. Plus, I look at my kids every day. And yes, I want to capture them in video, but no. I do not want to spend an extra three hours staring at them on my computer screen every time I make a video. I love them and all, but no.

Tip 1: Don’t edit. Just trim.

  • If you try to edit every video you take you’re going to burn out quickly. So just trim it. Cut to the chase. Start the video 1-2 seconds before the action and finish it up 1-2 seconds after the action stops. Don’t let your mom goggles make you leave all five minutes of little Johnny rambling in that video. (unless it’s something super hilarious). Ask yourself what really gives the video meaning. What NEEDS to be there. Then trash the rest. You don’t even need a special app for this. Your camera is capable of doing this.

Tip 2: Find ONE app that you love

  • Again with the whole burn-out idea. If you have 14 apps on your phone to edit your videos, you’re going to get overwhelmed. Yes, there are some bad ones out there, but the good ones are all basically the same, so find one you like and stick with it!

Tip 3: Keep it simple

  • Notice a theme here? There is no need to add fancy titles or borders or special effects. Yes, it may look cute, but honestly….it’s going to look so very dated in a couple of years. Sure, have fun decorating a video here and there. But please don’t do it for all of them.

Here are some apps to get you started.

As a side note…I am an android girl. So the Apple apps I suggest, I’ve never actually tried. They just looked good from the reviews I’ve seen. Also, I’m only going to give you apps that are free. I’m cheap like that about apps. :)

  • Magisto: I’m in love with this app. It is the simplest thing ever. Granted, you have to just let go and let it do what it does, but I’ve been happy with it. And yes, it does kind of go against my keep it simple tip because it adds in some effects. But hey, rules are meant to be broken. You get to choose which videos and photos you’d like to use, choose a theme, and choose which song you want. Then you click create and it’s done! The free version of this app lets you post directly to facebook or email the video to anyone. However, you have to pay in order to download the video if you want to host on your own platform. Because I want to keep all my videos in the same place (more about that tomorrow) I paid the $19.99 fee for a year’s service. The app is available on both Android and iOS.
  • KineMaster: One of those apps that I desperately want, but doesn’t work out so great with my camera settings. One day I’ll sit down and figure out if I can change my phone settings – which I am sure I can – but for now, I’m happy with my camera’s editing capabilities and my Magisto app.
  • Viddy: As far as I can tell, these folks haven’t gotten with the times and only offer this app on iOS. I’ve been told it’s available on Android, but for the life of me I can’t find it in the Google Play Store. Boo to them, because this looks like a really great app! Videos are limited to 15 second clips and the app comes with tons of effects and camera settings. *If you happen to find this on Google Play, please tell me how you found it!
  • Splice: An iOS only app, it gives you the ability to mix and match your videos and photos.

Something fun:

  • Try out a stop motion app one day. There are tons of free ones and they all seem to be about the same to me. It’s not technically a video editing app, but it takes your photos and turns them into a video, so close enough. :) Stop motion takes some planning and some time, but they are fun. I have A make them when she’s driving me nuts.

Here is the second movie I made with Magisto. I literally just went through my phone’s library of videos and photos of A and clicked on my favorites. Now, for some reason the app chose not to use more than 1 video and left out a few photos. It was disappointing that I couldn’t go back and tell it to use every single thing I picked. But….I spent all of 30 seconds creating what I think is a very cool clip of a very cool kid who rarely lets me video her. And let’s pretend that you don’t notice how many times I broke the “hold your phone horizontally” rule….

EDITED: please don’t ask me why this is showing up so tiny. I have no answer for you. It shows up the perfect size on my editing screen. Just click on the little button below it to make it bigger. :\

Just a note of caution! Apparently, my HTC records with huge settings and weird file types. So there have been quite a few apps that I found out didn’t work with my phone after I downloaded them. Not a big deal since I don’t pay for apps until I know I love them, so make sure you check the requirements before buying anything!


Phone Videography Tips | Part 1

cell phone video tips

I’m just as guilty as everyone else. My phone is everywhere. My pocket. My purse. On the table when I’m eating breakfast. (How else am I going to catch up on world news?!)

Making family films is my job. I love it. But sometimes I don’t have the time to go grab my big girl camera to capture what I know is about to happen. So the phone is what I go with. And you know what? My kids love those videos just as much as they love the big camera ones. The best camera (photo or video) is the one you have with you.

I’ve had a few people ask questions about taking videos with their phones – How to make them look better, What to do with them after you take them, How to store them….. So I thought it might be a good idea to throw together a quick blog series for everyone. There will be 3 parts to this Phone Videography Tips Series, each part being posted on Thursdays. Part 1 will be a few tips and tricks to make your videos even better. Two is all about editing – or not. Part 3 will be all about what to do with them after you take them!


  • Yep, I straight up yelled that one at you. Do you have any idea how many times I have taken a photo or video and thought, “dang, it must be foggy outside!” only to realize that the “fog” is really a smudge on my lens. Waay too many times. So I know you are doing it too. Plus, being in Houston means dealing with humidity and temperatures out the wazoo. It sometimes can take time for the lens to adjust and it will actually get foggy. Just swipe your lens over your shirt and call it good. You’ll be amazed how much better your video will be in 2 seconds flat.

Tip 2: Hold Your Phone Horizontally

  • I know it’s habit to grab your phone the same way you do to answer it. But try very very hard to flip your phone horizontally. This is they way our eyes naturally see, so it will be more pleasing to look at. Plus, think of how annoying it is to see those vertical videos on Facebook with the black bars on the side. Don’t be that person.

Tip 3: Be Steady

  • Nobody wants to get sea sick watching a video. Hold your phone – horizontally!- with both hands. Spread your feet a little. Keep your elbows close to your sides. It sounds like a lot of thinking, but it’ll become second nature.

Tip 4: Move With Your Feet

  • Don’t be lazy. Zoom with your feet. The zoom feature on your camera phone sucks. I don’t care what kind of fancy phone you have. It still sucks. So get up and move.

Tip 5: Make It Short

  • Your kids are cute. So are mine. But I don’t want to watch a five minute clip of my own kids. Nobody else is going to watch it either. Take short 10-15 second clips and edit them together if you want to get into editing. Or at least trim your one long clip down to the action. There are some great video editing apps out there that I’ll get into next post.

So there you go. Five quick phone videography tips. Commit to taking one video a day this week and practice one of these tips each day. Next week you’ll be on to making films fit for the cinema. Well, maybe.

And because a blog post about videos should probably include a video, here’s a little diddy that I took with my cell phone! Look at that. Phone videography in action.

Wood Block Photo Holder | Houston Photographer

I have been on the hunt for photo holders for men’s desks to offer to my clients. They aren’t as easy to shop for as women, you know? There have been a few things I’ve ordered, and while some have come close to what I was looking for, nothing was spot on. So, what do I do? I make my husband craft me some. :)  I must say, he’s always been great at woodworking and this time he built exactly what I needed.

Let me introduce you to the newest addition to my product line.

The handcrafted wooden block is built to hold 12 5×5.5 textured paper prints. It is stained deep mahogany and is the perfect accent for a man’s office.

gift idea for men photo holder

Looking for a Father’s Day gift? Book a Lifestyle Session with you and your kids and give him exactly what he’s wanted. A constant reminder of the ones he loves.

Book in the month of June and receive this Photo Holder with 12 Photos as a Free Gift!

Call 832-593-4411 or Email me at Michelle@ThisMomentPhoto.com to schedule.


What is Documentary Photography?

Think photojournalism. Think magazine articles. Documentary photography tells a story. Family documentary photography tells the story of your family in this moment. It’s the chaotic and messy. It’s the temper tantrums and silly habits. The favorite toys and daily routines. It’s the tiny details and the big accomplishments. These will be the photos that you look at ten years from now and start every sentence with, “Oh, remember when….” These are the moments that become memories without you even realizing it.

How my Storytelling Sessions (family documentary photography) work:

After we talk and you decide that this is what your family needs, I’ll send you a short questionnaire so we can really figure out what mem0ries are important to you. Don’t worry if you don’t think you have any, the questionnaire guides you to think of things you might not have otherwise. I’ll read your answers and we’ll talk again to plan the perfect time of day for your Storytelling Session. We’ll decide the very loose order of how we will do things. We’ll talk about how you do not need to deep clean your house or buy new clothes for everyone. I’ll remind you that this session is all about honesty. It’s about your real life together as a family.

On the day of the session, I will spend 10 minutes or so talking to everyone. I’ll get the kids used to me before I stick a camera in their faces. I work around the kids. If they want to do something completely off our “schedule” or want to go hide and take a break for a bit, then that’s what they do.  You won’t get flustered. You won’t need to tell the kids to sit and be quiet. The playing, goofing off, and quiet moments that come on their own are what make up your story. That’s what I want to capture.

After the session, I’ll upload and edit. And then I’ll come to you with a gallery of beautiful photos. I’ll help you decide which to put in an album and which to hang on your walls.

You’re going to love it.

family documentary photos


What is Lifestyle Photography?

It’s sometimes hard to explain my style of photography. It’s not your traditional posing, but it’s so much more than just snapshots. I consider myself first and foremost a documentary photographer. But…. I lean heavily on lifestyle photography to get the photographs that are closer to what people know. Closer to the more traditional portraits.  Confused yet? ;)  Because there isn’t a straight forward definition of either of those styles that every photographer sticks to, I thought it might be helpful to explain what they mean to me. So today, I’m going to give a quick run down of what I mean when I say Lifestyle Photography. Next week I’ll give more details on what my Storytelling Sessions – Documentary Style – consist of.

If you were to search, “What is Lifestyle Photography” or “Examples of a Lifestyle Photo” you’d get all kinds of photos and answers that don’t necessarily line up. One photographer might define Lifestyle as shooting the session outdoors. Another one might mean only taking photos of you in the middle of an activity.  And even for me, while I know exactly what I mean in my head and can go to a photo session with the plan already set out, it’s hard for me to give you a straight definition.  Sometimes I think it’s easier to tell you what something isn’t for you to see what it is, so here is my list of what Lifestyle Photography ISN’T.

What Lifestyle Photography Isn’t:

  • It isn’t a detailed set up in a studio. There aren’t backdrops. Lifestyle photo sessions usually take place in your home or another location that is important to you. Think parks, baseball fields, church, farmer’s markets….
  • I won’t bring props. Now, let me clarify…I have no problem bringing items that cause interaction, like bubbles, ice cream, kites, etc. However, those items will be secondary to the connections and interactions you guys are having while using them. When I say props, I’m talking wooden wagons, princess crowns, toy airplanes. If your son has a stuffed animal or your daughter plays the guitar, OF COURSE I’m going incorporate those. That is part of their lives! But I will not bring a generic prop that your kiddo has never seen before.
  • It isn’t “look-straight-at-the-camera-and-smile” photography. I won’t force you into awkward positions, but I will guide you into natural poses.  Then I’ll have the kids tell a secret, or Dad kiss Mom so the kids get grossed out.  :) I will capture the in between moments that are often lost in traditional portraits. The moments where actual emotion and love spill out.

Lifestyle Photography is so much more than just sitting for 45 minutes in your fancy new clothes after you’ve threatened the children not to move. It’s fun. It’s relaxed. And fun and relaxed is the only way you’re going to get your toddler (and sometimes teens!) to give you a real smile.

Examples of Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle Photography is about connections, emotions, personalities. It’s honest and beautiful.

Different Perspectives

It’s easy to just grab the camera and snap a shot really quick of whatever your kids are doing. But often, that leads to some boring photos. I love my kids, but I can only look at them staring at me with a cheesy grin so many times before I put down the camera. A more interesting way to take photos of everyday things is to change up your perspective. Stand on a chair. Lay on the floor. Shoot over a shoulder or under an arm. Get up and MOVE. And don’t ever ever ever ask a kid to say cheese. It just doesn’t work.  I used the, “Oh my gosh look what’s on my camera trick” for the photo of B looking at me. He looks a little afraid, so I’m starting to wonder if I scare them too much? Nah. :)

These photos tell the story of how hard he was working. How detailed he was trying to be and how much he was concentrating on choosing the right color for every part of the monster truck. This is the story of this moment. Not just a cheesy grin.

Monster Truck B