How to take good Family Photos
DIY Family Photos
Let me introduce myself first of all. I am a family photographer who has been taking photos of children and families since 2005 (and back to about the age of 10 if you count my own childhood!). I was awarded Master Photographer in Child Portraiture by the NAPCP back in 2020 and I’ve photographed literally thousands of families over the years. Let me give you a few things to consider for how to take good family photos.
Before you even pick up a camera it is going to help enormously if you have up your sleeve a few good distraction techniques. The worst thing you can do when trying to take good family photos is to ask your children to ‘smile for the camera’. At best you’ll get a pre scripted static smile they’ve learned to use when the camera comes out, and at worst the reverse psychology kicks in and they will do anything but smile for the camera.
So what I do is generally 2 things:
Engage them in chats – ask them what they want for Christmas, or who their best friend is. If they are determinedly giving you a fixed grin, ask them to do a maths question (this works in 2 ways, you’ll get a nice shot of your child being thoughtful, and when they get it right (!) they will be pleased with themselves and smile naturally)
Get them to do something – ask them to run the length of the garden, even if you can’t get an action shot successfully, you’ll get the animation of them waiting for the off, or of winning a race at the end
Get down to their level
Children love it when you see the world from their eyes, but not only will it make your child feel more comfortable if you’re down on their level, you’ll get a better view of their eyes and get their whole face in the photo.
If siblings don’t like each other!
You need to distract from who they are sitting next to! So once you’ve got them close enough, get a balloon out and start blowing it up.. You can tell them you’ll do a countdown and then let it go and they can try to catch it. This should distract them long enough so they have forgotten they are sat next to their sibling!
A huge part of how good a photo looks is down to the light you have in that image. If you’re not an experienced photographer the simplest thing to do is to make sure your subject is facing into the light at least partly. Even if it’s a really cloudy day, there is light coming from the sun and you should turn your kids towards where it is to get a nice well lit shot. If you’re in your home then making sure there is window light falling on their faces is a great start.
If you have people with longer hair to photograph then making sure you’re pointing into the wind will stop hair from flying in front of faces and ruining your shots. Not always possible but worth considering.
Lastly in this section it’s really worth looking at what else is surrounding your kids. If you’re outside, make sure there is a uniform surrounding area. If you have something bright or angular in your image then your eye will immediately be drawn to that item and it won’t feel such a good shot.
A note on clothing
This will take your images to the next level and plays a large part in how successful a portrait is. Making sure the colours you’re wearing look good together, are not distracting the eye from your faces, and look good in the surrounding colour scheme will give you the edge. I’ve written a blog to help with this as I ask my own clients to ensure they wear the right colours every time.
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