I get a lot of questions about the TimerCam app on Instagram and so I thought it was about time I wrote a post about how I use it and my "tips." This app is hands down my favorite photo app and it gets used almost everyday. I love that it's free and doesn't come with 100 bells, whistles and filters. It just takes the photo on a timed delay.
The app looks like your normal phone camera but you can set it to take the photo 5, 10, 15 or 30 seconds after you hit the camera button. Just like on the normal phone camera, you can tap the screen to select the different area that you want to focus on. It counts down (with a number countdown and a beeping sound, unless you turn it on silent) and then snaps the photo. You then have the option to "Save" the image to your camera roll or "Cancel" and try again.
I balance my phone on it's side for every single TimerCamphoto. I've never used a tripod and personally will not because I don't want to deal with extra stuff. I have a case from Society6.com and the side is level and perfect for balancing. (ps. I took the above photo with the timer on my big camera while using TimerCam. I think there is some sort of Olympic medal offered for this sort of thing.)
About 50% of the time, I rest my camera on the ground and the other half I am resting it on my workspace, a table, a bookshelf, a chair, a pile of books... anything that is directly across from what I am trying to capture.
I select a reasonable amount of time to get from point A) behind the camera to point B) in front of the camera. Then I balance it on it's side, give it a second to focus and I gently hit the button and move into place. (For the shot above, the phone was balanced on a small table on top of our outdoor couch - total hassle, but it's one of my favorites.)
One thing that I like about placing the phone on the ground or table is that you usually get a pretty level "horizon" in the shot. In the foreground, there is a lot of the surface before you see the subject. This is totally just a personal preference, but I think it's a fun look.
Using the timer tends to give me a pretty wide shot which means a lot of the background gets in the image. It's rarely (ever?!) flawless, but it's part of the story too.
I also love how sometimes details get cut. (This happens all the time when I put the phone on the table and shoot).
People often ask how my "tries" it takes to get the shot. The average is two. Sometimes I am thrilled with the first photo and we move on with our lives. Other times, I learn from the first photo what has to happen (the pillow was blocking the baby, my feet look weird, etc). Still other times, I get the shot set up and then something goes wrong (someone blinks, the wind comes, etc) and we end up taking three. Like everything else, though... practice makes better.
Obviously, in order to actually get these shots I have to break from what we're doing and set up the camera then run into place. Because of this, I have tried to make the process as simple as possible (another reason why I am thrilled my phone balances without props). I like to think that the reward of having these memories saved with photographs is worth the quick disruption on occasion.
Overall, I try to trust the camera. Using the self timer provides images and perspective that I never see, making some of these photos my most treasured.
Hope that helps! Any further questions? I'll follow up in the comments.