I love doing a portrait photography, especially family portrait photography.
In effort to keep all of the mom’s calm and relaxed, as well as other family members in their family picture, let’s talk a bit more about the details which are important in a family photo shoot. Below you will find 11 Family Photography tips, that saved my life (in a way).
1. First of all – make a plan and figure out where you will take the picture and when that area is in perfect condition and is less busy. Discuss about the plan you have for the photo session. If you’ll take one family’s pictures on that location only or afterwords you’ll change completely the location of the photo shoot or you’ll switch back and forth locations.
2. The second thing that you need to think about is the lighting. This wouldn’t be a good photography tip post if we didn’t mention something about the lighting. We’ve talked over and over again about lighting and how it is one of the key elements to photography. Knowing all of this, it makes total sense to time your outdoor photography shoots strategically, too. My personal favorite times for taking pictures are in the morning and evening (not only my personal but these are optimal times for taking outdoor pictures because of the quality of the light, during that time of the day). The perfect time is up to two hours after dawn and maybe two hours before sunset. If it is a cloudy day, don’t panic. This can actually be good for this kind of thing. If it is mild overcast the shadows are a lot softer, and thus the time doesn’t matters or it does matter a lot less, during such a day, no one is squinting or wearing sunglasses. Try to avoid overhead sun as much as you can because it causes shadows under the eyes, beneath the nose and makes relaxing the eyes of the people you shoot next to impossible. During days of intense sun, shade is a great asset and your best friend, however beware of shade cast from trees and other objects that will cause splotchy lighting, which can ruin a picture. But if your only available time window is when the sun is shining overhead, finding full shade is essential for the success of the photo session – perhaps you can try an indoor shoot in this kind of situation, wouldn’t be that a fun alternative option!?!
3. Lets talk about camera metering. This a rough guide or maybe a starting point – for every photo shoot and every situation this will require a bit of tweaking with the settings. Start with your camera settings and use something like setting your camera with an ISO of 100 or 200, and the aperture should be around f/8, also use the fastest shutter speed you can get by, that said try to be sure to keep it above the 1/60s so that you can avoid blur from people moving or handshake. Feel free to experiment with these settings and if you aren’t able to reach that great light that you are looking for with these settings, try raising your ISO as high as 400. If this is something new to you, it’s going to be a good idea to shoot some practice shots in the environment where you’ll be shooting and then check the results out on a computer to be 100% sure you’re happy with the results. Any work that you can do ahead of the time of the photo-shoot will help you ease the tension and result in a perfect and relaxed family portraits photo shoot.
(Image Source: Capa12)
4. As always the equipment is important part in a photo session. I’m a huge supported of tripods. It not only tells everyone where to look but it also helps to ensure we walk a way with a few pictures from a distance. The other item you’ll need for sure and probably want to have with you during your photo shoot is a hand held remote control (my 2 cent on the subject). This way I (and you if you fallow this guide) can pay attention to the details of the whole picture and it is much better when you are looking at the life-size pose in front of you, rather squinting through the small viewfinder.
(Image Source: HANNA MAC)
5. You must force yourself to take a lots of shots (when I first began, I was afraid to shoot like crazy, because I was thinking that this makes me look unprofessional). Ultimately, family members will sometimes look away, or maybe someones eyes will blink, and faces will look crazy at times (and I’m not speaking only about the kids grow up will do it too). Take a lot of shots of each pose you choose to take, and take a variety of poses to ensure you get at least one that looks totally natural and almost award winning! I love variety and so should you (if we are like minded). I try some close ups, then I switch to some from a distance, some with all eyes on the camera and some when the family is laughing or chilling and enjoying each other. A variety of shots will give you more options when the buzzer rings and the flexibility of your subjects has abruptly come to an end!
6. You should always try to keep it moving and if your family is anything like the ones I get to work with – Dad and Mom, and the kids will loose interest before you even know it! Try to do your best to not get stuck on the details. In the end when all is said (and done), most of the time, natural looking pictures beats perfection. Plan ahead a few poses in your mind and when you thought them out – do a little arranging, then jump to action right away. Again, with the risk to get boring – take a lots of pictures. Always keep it going – from the front, left and right, get a little bit higher, or maybe lower? Experiment all the time.
7. Always pay attention to details: Little elements that you didn’t spot can distract from an awesome picture or maybe even ruin the picture as a whole. Once the family is ready and posed, try do a quick scan for some imperfections – hair in faces, some uneven spacing, tangled necklaces or even too much skin showing, chins tilted down to far causing the hated by many double chin and etc. Don’t forget in the end that you know your audience, and try to capture that great representation of their family!
9. As seen in the pictures above posing is the key. Try to capture the contact between the family because the truth is that contact always looks great, especially in family photography. Holding hands, cheeks rubbing to each other, wrapping an arm around a neck (loosely) and etc. Don’t forget that family portraits are all intended to have warmth and show how the family enjoys each other. Hands can go in pockets, or crossed for a more natural look than just letting the hands hang loose. If the family have a new born and they are holding the baby or child – tell the Dads or Moms to turn their bodies a bit to the side, tell them to move the one leg that is furthest from the camera a little bit back, so that they can shift the weight to the back. The knee of the front leg should be slightly bent with the toe pointing towards camera.
10. Always try to end the photo session on a good note. Make it fun not only for you but to them too, because in the end you are taking pictures of they’re besties and you are making that day a special family memory. This makes me love even more what I do during these family portrait sessions, I always try to be remembered with my fun photo sessions. Making fond memories out of the photo shoot is important, because we are able to end them always on a good note! When done with the taking pictures part, I then spend a good hour laughing and smiling at the pictures (I’m stressing a bit, too, if they are going to like the pictures but this is part of the job). It’s a hunt to find the special picture in the bulk of shots – but don’t worry because that brings us to my last tip for today.
11. Never forget that almost every shot can become a keeper with the proper Editing. If the results you got aren’t worthy of bragging, but remember that photography skills are gained through experience. Amazing results can be achieved from editing. I have a few tips coming up in the next week or two, under the photo Tip’s & Tricks section of my navigation bar, or check for update of this article. Pro tip: If all else fails, focus on the little things !!! (can’t remember where did I read that). And one last thing before you do a thing, take a deep breath and try to enjoy your time.