Family Photography Tips for Non-Photographers
Family photography is a worthwhile hobby to get into. It allows you to capture special moments with your loved ones and, thus, preserve those precious, fleeting memories for posterity. And once you get skilled enough with your camera, you can turn that hobby into a profitable business.
There are plenty of tutorials on family photography out there. To get you started, here are a few family photography tips you can use even if you’re not a trained photographer.
― Karl Lagerfeld
Newborn photography tips
If you’re a parent to a newborn, you may feel that every second you spend with your baby is precious and fleeting. Babies grow up so fast, and they’re never exactly the same with every growth milestone they pass. You’ll want to capture every single moment you have with them in baby photos.
Newborn baby photography is actually easy. As long as your baby is happy before you start your newborn photoshoot and keep them happy throughout, you’re sure to get awesome baby photos.
1. To keep your baby happy during the baby photoshoot, make sure they’re fed and comfortable before you begin. You should also make room for plenty of breaks in case the baby needs feeding, changing nappies, or simple comforting throughout the shoot.
2. Let the baby inspire you when it comes to baby photo ideas. Babies are born with personality, and that personality can be easily seen on the baby’s face and demeanor. So, observe the baby for baby picture ideas. If the infant looks like a pirate to you, go ahead and dress them as a pirate. If the baby looks like a fairy, let them be a fairy. Let the baby’s personality and your imagination guide you.
3. Use the right props. Props will make your baby photos appear more creative, interesting and playful. However, when using props, make sure you plan ahead and have a loose theme in mind for the shoot. A common mistake among rookie photographers is they bring all their baby photo props to the shoot and end up not using any because they haven’t planned ahead.
4. Keep the lighting soft and natural. Nothing ruins baby photos more than harsh and unnatural lighting. It somehow takes away the baby’s precious innocence from the photos. The portrait’s lighting should emphasize the baby’s extreme youth and fragility.
5. Capture the details that make the baby precious in their photos. Sure, pictures of tiny feet, tiny hands, curling eyelashes, and rosebud mouths may seem overdone already. But these details are what makes baby photos special, so have at it if you can.
6. Get the rest of the family involved in the photoshoot. Highlighting the baby’s relationship with the other members of the family makes baby photos much sweeter to look at. So, make sure that the baby has pictures with their parents, both and separately. If the baby has older siblings or a twin, get a shot of them together, preferably interacting with each other.
7. Be prepared for messes. The baby could get hungry or fussy during the shoot. Or they could mess up the props. The other children participating in the photoshoot could have meltdowns. If an incident happens, do your best to keep calm and get everyone around you to calm down as well. Tend to the baby’s needs first before continuing the photoshoot.
Child photography tips
Child photography is a bit more challenging than newborn photography. In kids’ photography, you’d be dealing with young children, each with a mind of their own and more than willing to push boundaries. They won’t always cooperate with you during the photoshoot, and they’ll often try to test your patience in every way they can.
As challenging as child photography is, shooting a child portrait can be rewarding. You get to capture their innocence with every shot. And if you’re patient enough, you’ll get a glimpse of the kind of adult they may end up becoming.
1. If there’s any occasion proving that the adage “kids will be kids” is true, it’s trying to get a kids’ portrait done. You won’t always be able to control young children, especially toddlers. So, rather than controlling them and making them do the poses you’ve got in mind, let them control the show during the photoshoot. Get them to play and do the things they like while you click on your camera. The photoshoot will more likely be more fun for them and less stressful for you.
2. Another advantage of letting kids run the show during the photoshoot is you’re more likely to get candid shots for your kids’ portrait. It’s certainly awesome if you can get the kids to pose and smile the way you want them to. But candid shots of them doing their thing – playing, running about, doing their own poses, or even completely ignoring you – are sure to be more fun.
3. When you’re doing child photography, you have to be on the alert all the time. With all the action that’s happening around you, you’ll never know when a great shot with the kids is coming. So, don’t put your camera down. Watch your subject closely and keep clicking until the session is over.
4. Since you’ll be taking a lot of action shots, you need to use the fastest shutter speed on your camera. If you need to use automatic settings, then you should set your camera to take sports or high-speed shots. These will help you get great shots even with the kids moving at near-light speed around you.
5. Sometimes, even if you’re willing to let the kids take the lead in their photoshoot, you won’t have the kids at ease all the time. They’d probably feel self-conscious about getting in front of the camera. So, you need to help them loosen up a little. How do you do that? The easiest way is to play with them and make them laugh.
6. Try to get down to their level. Kids don’t really like having big adults looming over them, especially one whose face is hidden behind a camera. If you get down to their level by kneeling, crouching, or even lying down on your stomach, you’ll get the kids to feel more confident about the photoshoot and start playing around. Plus, if you’re at their level, you may get interesting snapshots from different perspectives and angles.
7. As mentioned earlier, a child photography session can test your patience to its limits simply because you can’t always control your subjects. No matter what happens, you need to keep your cool. Losing your patience during the photo shoot will only frighten the children and result in more meltdowns.
Family portraits tips
Taking family portraits is generally not as challenging as taking child portraits. You’ll have adults and older children among your subjects, and they’re supposed to be easier to direct. Another upside is these adults can help you control the children taking part in the family photo. Perhaps the only difficulty with doing a family photo shoot is organizing the participants, especially if there are extended family members involved. These family members may be coming from far away and may not have enough time to spend on the photo shoot.
The beautiful thing about family portraits is it lets you document how your family changes throughout the years. They show family members growing up and aging. They visually record additions to the family – younger siblings, new spouses and in-laws, grandchildren. They are archives of the family’s history.
1. As stated earlier, family portraits aren’t really difficult to do. But you need to prepare for them nonetheless. You have to plan where you’re going to hold the family photo shoot, whether the shoot will be indoors or outdoors, whether you’re going to have coordinated outfits for the whole family, and other details.
2. Get your subjects comfortable before taking their pictures. Talk to them, tell jokes, provide refreshment, get them chatting with you and with one another. Be helpful when you’re giving directions for the shoot. Give them a preview of the photos during breaks. The more relaxed they become during the photoshoot, the more natural your pictures will come out.
3. Use all group combinations possible for your shots. You can have the ladies of the family pose together, followed by the gentlemen. You can have the grandparents with their grandkids. The siblings without their spouses can be another combination. You can also have a shot with just the grandchildren.
4. Get as many candid shots as possible. Let the family do their own thing and roam around snapping pictures without their knowledge. To get more interesting shots, try to shoot from different angles.
5. Try to tell a story about the family with your photos. All families have stories to tell, after all. So, what’s your family’s story? Is it a reunion after being miles and years apart? Is it a story of triumph over adversity? Or maybe a tale of reconciliation? Or a pure and simple story of love? A picture is worth a thousand words, as the old adage says. Tell a story with your family photos.
6. If you have to make people pose during your family photo shoot, avoid putting your subjects in stiff poses. Even if the family members are all in a row, don’t make them stand as if they’re facing a firing squad. Instead, make them do fun, dynamic poses. You can make them do the can-can pose, for example. Or do jazz hands. If they really have to do the firing squad shot, you should try to make them stand close together. This will make them look warmer and cozier in the resulting picture.
7. Take your time setting up the shot. The perfect shot will always be elusive, but if you set up your shoot before clicking your camera, your photos will look as perfect as they can be. Get your family in the poses they want. Check your camera to see if you’re getting the shot you want. If you have to be in the photo, put your camera on a tripod and set it on a timer.
General portrait photography tips
Here are a few more portrait photography tips to help you create stunning and intriguing portraits:
1. When you’re taking candid photos, you’d be holding your camera most of the time instead of leaving it on a tripod. You and the subject moving around can create motion blurring in your shots. Your camera’s anti-shake system will prevent this motion blurring, so make sure that it’s on and working before you begin your photoshoot. Increasing your camera’s ISO will also help.
2. Always remember the rule of thirds when composing your shot. It’s not enough that your subject’s face and torso are included in the portrait. Position them so they’re occupying one-third of the frame. Doing so will avoid awkward shots. It will also make your photos more engaging for the viewer. When you’re composing wide shots, get the subject on the righthand third of the photo, in case they want to use it as cover images for their social media pages.
3. Use eye contact to create a story with your photos. While portraits generally have the subject looking directly at the camera, having them look away at something else off-frame can create mystery in the photo. If there are two or more people in the portrait, you can have them look at each other to establish their relationship with each other. This is especially important with engagement pictures and pre-wedding photos.
4. Experiment with perspectives. Sometimes a shot from above the subject, with the subject looking up, can help you create more interesting photos. The same applies if you’re shooting from a low angle.
5. The light on your subject’s face can make or break your portrait. If you’re indoors, use a reflector to bring light to the subject’s face and banish the unwanted shadows away. If you’re outdoors, use a fill flash to create more balance in your photos.
6. In portrait photography, it’s all about the eyes. The eyes, as they say, are the mirrors of the soul. The subject will be able to connect more with the viewer if the photo is focused on their eyes. Make sure the subject’s eyes are the focus of your photo, especially in tight shots. If the shots are wide, focus on the subject’s face.
7. Always listen to your subject. They may have certain features they’re not comfortable with and wish to be hidden in their portrait. Or they may simply be unwilling to do the poses or shots you want to do. Your subject is the focus of the portrait. You will not end up with good portraits if your subject is uncomfortable or hostile because you refuse to listen to their input.
Family photography is truly a worthwhile hobby you can get into. It lets you capture special memories with your family so they’ll always be remembered. These tips will hopefully get you started on this wonderful journey of family photography. Who knows? – maybe you can turn this hobby into something more profitable.