Taking great family photographs
Whether you’re a scrapbooker or just throw your pictures in a box in the closet, you want the best possible family photos. Follow these tips to make your photos the best.
Take candid shots
Sure, once in a while you’re going to want the classic shot of the whole family lined up on the couch or porch. But for most of your shots, take candid shots of your family working, playing, talking, and relaxing. You will capture your family’s personality that way and your pictures will be much more interesting.
To get good candid shots, you will need to have your camera ready at all times and be willing to take a lot of shots. Professional photographers may shoot an entire roll of film and only get one or two useable shots. Fortunately, if you have a digital camera, you won’t have to worry about wasting film and can just delete the shots that didn’t work.
Make posed shots lively
When you do line up the family for a group shot, take some care in how and where you pose everybody. A plain background, such as a neutral wall, is the best. Arrange a couch a few feet from the wall and then pose the group with a third of your subjects behind the couch, a third seated, and the rest on the floor. Arrange subjects with the tallest on the edges of the group and smaller ones near the center.
When you’re ready to take the picture, don’t say “smile” or “cheese.” You will be bound to end up with phony smiles. Instead, tell a joke, make funny noises, or do whatever you know makes your family giggle.
Shoot at eye level
If you’re taking pictures of children, get down to their eye level for the most engaging shots. Sit or kneel down on the ground. The perspective will be more natural, expressions will be livelier, and the flash will more evenly light the child’s entire face.
Most people are too far away when they take photos. Your pictures will have more impact if you fill the viewfinder. Set up the shot as you would normally take it, then take a step or closer to fill the frame. You can also use your zoom to emphasize what is important in your photo.
Pay attention to the lighting
The best time to take photos is in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is gentler and more flattering. Avoid taking pictures in bright sunlight. If you do take pictures in the middle of the day, look for an area with light shade.
Be aware of the background in your pictures
A neutral background is usually best. Stay away from distracting, cluttered or busy backgrounds. Be extra careful for objects such as antennas, or your subjects may end looking like they have something growing out of their heads.
Of course, sometimes the background is part of the story. If you are taking a picture of your child on skis for the first time, the mountain or the ski lift can add to the picture.
Props can also add to the picture and help show your family’s personality. If your grandmother has several beautiful, colorful hats, take photos of her surrounded by her collection or, better yet, trying one on herself or her granddaughter.
Good luck with your family pictures. If you have some great tips let us know and post a comment below.