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Top 5 tips for photographing your family!

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Whether you are using your phone, an instant polaroid or a DSLR it doesn't matter, because the point of taking a family photograph, more often than not, is to capture that moment for you, your memory bank and your own family history books.

We have all been there, taken a photo and been disappointed with the result, it's blurry or your subject is blinking or its too bright or too dark.

This post isn't going to get hugely techie but will hopefully give you a few easy tips to think about when you next pic up your camera for your family photography.

1. Emotion over perfection

I believe that the true joy of family photography is the emotion that is shown in it, the connection that you see and the story that it tells. So, don't go for perfection, throw out the 'typical' pose guidebook and whatever you do don't say cheese! Instead, watch for the giggles that are shared, the eye connection, the surroundings that may help tell the story, the touches or the movement. These photos may not be technically perfect (although technology helps a lot!) but thats ok! They will, however tell that story and the emotions wonderfully well and that is what you will love about them.

2. Celebrate your everyday

Life is not perfect and nor should it be. It's a crazy mix of everything from boredom to sheer joy, the good and the bad, the mundane and the magnificent.

So, capture your everyday, snap the kids laughing over the breakfast table, or reading bedtime stories. Grab your camera when the morning light falls on their face as they lie in bed or when they are cooking up a mess in the kitchen.

These are the moments that pass too quickly but that make up the chapters in your life, your story and what say 'we are here!'

3. All the favourite things

Kids change so fast, I know, we all say it but it's only when you look back that you realise it's true! What was one their favourite toy or teddy they couldn't do without becomes a lost toy under the bed (yes, I am too imagining the scene in 'Toy Story' now!) and I don't know about you, but I always feel so sad when that happens.

But, if you take photos when it is their favourite thing that show the joy it brings them (see tip 1), in years come you will love looking back at these family photos together and remember how special that toy/ teddy was to them.

4. Get in the shot!

I cannot say this enough. You parents MUST be in your photos too! You are a huge part of this fabulous love story that is happening right now and you need to be seen in it. Your children one day will treasure the photos of you with them so don't get hung up on any "I hate having my photo taken" issues because actually its not for you... it's for them.

My top tips for setting up a family group shot are:

  • Use the self timer on your camera or better get one of those remote controls! Position everyone where you want the photo to be and allow enough time to run in to it! It is possible on some cameras to set a multiple sequence of shots so that lessens the chance of someone blinking!

  • Be silly! Laugh with each other, look at each other and not just at the camera, this makes the photo look more engaged because you were all engaged!

  • Using a mobile phone, can't prop it up in the right position and haven't got a tripod? Grab a tin of baked beans and an elastic band et voila! Your very own sturdy prop to keep your phone upright!

  • ALWAYS use the back camera on your phone... it's the best one and doesn't 'selfie' your face.

  • REMEMBER - it doesn't have to be perfect its about the moment it will bring back to you and the connections within it.

5. Composition Play

Ever heard of the Rule of Thirds? If you have studied photography or art you probably have, but in a nutshell it helps you place your subject or where you want the eye to be drawn to.

Imagine the screen spilt into thirds horizontally and vertically. These are your thirds. Place your subject on one of those lines or boxes and you are there! (Most phones and cameras have guide lines to help)

Yes, it really is that simple! Of course, rules are meant to be broken and some of my favourite images are pushing these rules but if you start thinking about these when you are composing your photos, you will really see a difference in the finished image.

Look at the image below, I have lined up his eye and his cute posting lips to be on the first third line leaving beautiful negative space on the right. Your eye is drawn straight away to his lips, in the next image I have positioned it differently so you can see the difference. It is personal choice but can you see how it just seems to sit better?

Here agin this little boy is positioned entirely down the right side line and his sister sits within the frame on the left.

Have a play around, it's all about having fun but also about documenting your family story, the moments that make up our lives and ensuring that some of them, no matter how small they may seem at the time can take you back and help you remember the little things that get forgotten.

Have fun and I would love to know if this little blog helped at all! Please do share what you capture, I love being a family photographer and helping others enjoy family photography more is even better!

If you would like to get in touch for more advice or would like to book in for a family photography session (if the self timer tips doesn't work!) then please drop me a message! I would love to help capture your family story for you.

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