5 steps to better family photos

wilmington nc family photographer

One of the hardest things in the world for me to photograph are my own children.  They never take me seriously and are usually too distracted by a million things that they would rather be doing than getting their picture taken again.  In order to help others out, I thought I would put together a list of things that would help to make sure you are setting the stage for the most success when photographing your (or other people’s) family.

1.  Check your light

  • is the sun too bright and casting odd shadows?  Go to a shaded area or under a tree for more flattering light and no squinting eyes.
  • have everyone face a window or a gentle light source
  • try backlighting.  If the sun is setting/rising but too bright still, try aiming it behind everyone’s head for a nice halo effect.

2.  Check your background

  • is there a kitchen with piles of dirty dishes behind your subjects?  Neutral and less busy backgrounds will help keep your subjects the center of attention (and save you embarrassment later).

3.  Get down

  • I’m not talking about dancing, I am referring to your stance when taking the picture.  This is especially helpful when photographing children.  Get down on your knees or kneel.  You will be amazed at how much better your pictures will look!

4.  Plan ahead

  • You know you are getting together with your family for a park gathering or a day at the beach.  If your family photos are important to you then plan ahead.  Consider when people will be most agreeable for photos.  Maybe go ahead and take them first thing before anyone gets dirty or drops ketchup on their shirt (guilty lol).  When are the kids going to be fussy and want to nap?  Timing is the key to success!  I even try to time things before the kids get a treat, so they will cooperate in order to have their ice cream.  Bribery is king with photographing kids!

5.  Be the boss

  • The best tip I can give is to be the boss.  When you have a group gathered together to photographed one thing that the adults being photographed ALWAYS  seem to do is try to assist with getting kids to look at the camera.  What ends up happening is you are photographing your family and all the kids are looking at the adults talking to them and the adults are not smiling at the camera.  Most photos end up with mouths open and very unflattering faces.  When I have the camera, before the “say cheese” moment.  I like to say “OK everyone look right here at the lens (point to the lens).  “insert name”  I will be in charge of the kids smiling, just look at me and smile and relax”  This helps the adult to smile nicely and be ready, so when you get that moment when the child is smiling and looking at the camera, everyone else is looking great too.  
  • With young children I will sometimes grab a toy and bounce it on my head or on the camera to help encourage a natural happy smile.

I hope that these tips help.  They come from a hard road of bad family photos 🙂  Do you have a tip?  Please share in the comments!






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