As a child, I spent my youth in a village surrounded by thatched huts and tall green grass. After finishing my education as a youth, my father presented me with a point-and-shoot camera as a gift. When I had been quite young, I had thoroughly enjoyed painting nature scenes like flowers and butterflies. Receiving this camera rekindled that interest, and I began in earnest to shoot these natural scenes. I had no prior knowledge of photography at the time, in fact I didn’t even have a flash! Instead I had to use a flashlight that my uncle had given to me as a gift on my 15th birthday. When I got that flashlight you would have thought I had won the lottery! I instantly mounted it to the camera as my friends and family began to gather around me, all of them looking to have their picture taken.
That was the first family photo shoot I can remember as an amateur photographer. Nowadays as a professional I face several questions on photography. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What is your favorite genre of photography?”. In my career I have encountered a myriad of shooting ideas but today, I’ll be discussing family photos specifically.
Taking photos of your family members on any occasion is a great idea. Who doesn’t want to get pictures of themselves taken in fancy clothing? There’s always at least one person in every family who loves to have their photo taken. Shooting families is always a bit different than shooting solo portraits. Feel free to try and experiment in these photos. Especially with modern photography, there is a lot of flexibility in what you focus on in these shots. In my career I have come across a lot of ideas for how to spice up your photos, and in this article I will provide you will insight into how to spice up your own family photos.
Taking family photos doesn’t necessarily mean that you need the most professional setup on the market, in fact some very simple point-and-shoot photos can provide excellent results that can compete with high-end DSLR cameras in certain respects. All you need is a bit of knowledge and an eye for photography.
Marriages, birthday parties, and holidays are all great occasions to take family portraits. I started just by casually taking photos of my family members when they would come over for gatherings. People tend to be in a great mood during these types of gatherings, and you can capture some great expressions. Getting multiple happy, smiling faces in a single photo is always preferable to mixed expressions. Try to always search for the right moments.
Typical nuclear households consist of between 3 and 4 members, and in every decent sized family there will always be at least one child who can drive you crazy. Getting children to behave in a photo shoot can be exceptionally difficult, as they tend not to follow instructions and run in & out of the frame. If you have the kind of special personality needed to get children to follow directions, then I suggest to introduce yourself to the troublesome child immediately before the shoot begins. The end results will be all the better for your efforts.
The Importance of a Good Background
Imagine a beautiful woman all dressed up for a party, but behind her is a dumpster. How good would this look in a photograph? Choosing a suitable background for a family photograph is crucial, as it can make or break a photo. If you are shooting your family outdoors, choose an open location surround by trees and vegetation. If you have access to a small rooftop garden, this would be perfect as well. Remember that some public places require permission to shoot in. Always pick a sunny day for outdoor shots, as a cloudy day can dull an otherwise great photo. Shooting in natural light also boosts contrast.
If however you are taking photos indoors, you will need a proper lighting setup as normal point-and-shoot cameras don’t offer the kind of flash power needed to cover a larger area. You will want to pay attention and make sure everyone is getting proper light exposure. If your camera allows it, use a high-powered external photography lamp. Fluorescent lamps in particular provide excellent results for this.
360 Poses & Expressive Photography
Shooting a family of four is a lot easier than shooting a larger family or group. Remember to liven them up as opposed to having them stand still like statues. A stress-free expression is always going to make an image better. Holidays or other festive moments are great for these types of photos. In more traditional shots, parents stand behind the children or have them sit in their lap, but nowadays there are a lot more ideas for these types of images.
Try to make sure that all the family members are in good spirits. Different individuals will always have different smiling habits. A good photographer will try to match the shot with the individual & the background. Suppose you are taking shots of a smiling child. Something like this for example would look great with a bright, colorful background. Including some toys might also be a nice touch.
Most outdoor photographers will carry types of folding furniture with them. If you are shooting your family on the ground, you sure perhaps carry a blanket for them to sit on. A bright blanket contrasting with green grass can make an excellent background for a family shoot.
Capturing family members in different types of action can always add an extra flavor to family photography. For example, the family matriarch could be pouring everyone else cups of tea. Certainly there are no rules to these type of shots, as you can use many different ideas to compose an image.
Artistic Body Postures
Body posture also plays a very important role in photography. A photographer needs to understand who looks good in what postures. This tends to depend on the shape of the body. You can ask them to move their head left or right, move their chin up slightly, and other things of that nature to help improve their angles. I suggest experimenting a lot to find the right choices for this.
As I have mentioned, photography is all about experimentation. Try several different methods until you achieve the results you’re looking for. As you improve, you will develop a skill set you can pull from.