There are many festive occasions and unique, intimate family moments that people want to save for life. Family photography can capture your dearest memories. While it is in high demand, this task is not simple; in fact, it has many subtleties that you must know if you want to succeed as a family photographer. From helpful tips to interesting ideas and trending themes, read on to find out how to take great family pictures.
What Is Family Photography?
Family photography is a niche specializing in group portraits that capture memorable moments. The number of people can vary between a married couple or three generations of a household. However, it is not as simple as gathering all the family members and snapping a few photos. It is much more nuanced than that: a photo shoot captures a family’s unique dynamics, ties, and emotions in a photograph.
These generational ties can be explored in a variety of ways, occasions, and settings. Examples include newborn photography and special events like weddings, birthdays, graduation ceremonies, and other celebrations.
7 Tips for Family Photography
If you are unprepared for a relative’s group photo session, the result may be lackluster and disappointing. Here are a few family portrait tips to keep in mind for taking amazing photos:
Use Manual Mode
Photo shoots tend to last long when they involve family, so if the lighting and external circumstances change, you can manually adjust the settings. This also allows you to control the shooting process. Manual mode will take a little more time since you have to set all three parameters (shutter speed, aperture, exposure), but the result will be better.
If you shoot in automatic mode, the camera will change the settings automatically, and the accuracy might not be perfect. But if you shoot in manual mode, your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings will be as you set them. You will get a more stable exposure.
Let Kids Be Carefree
Avoid trying to get kids to stay in a specific position or pose. Let them be playful and lively as usual and capture the moments as they come—playing, laughing, running, and being cheerful. You can create genuine and emotional shots that will be loved and treasured by the entire family.
Light Up the Eyes
The art of taking professional family photographs is in how you manipulate illumination to create the desired effect. Whatever light you use (studio or natural), make sure to get some in their eyes to create the depth and nuance of their expressions.
Capture the Right Expressions
The heartfelt laughter of a young child, the romantic look shared by a newlywed couple, happy smiles on the faces of family members, the kids’ expressions as they listen to their grandfather’s stories—these are the moments you must capture. Be vigilant and observant to photograph these special expressions.
Avoid Stiff Head Positions
To capture the deep and real moments of a family, everyone must be comfortable and relaxed. Stiff head positions usually imply your subjects are tense and nervous. Do your best to interact with your models, and try to make them feel relaxed and natural. You can have a small, sincere talk before shooting, have an interesting conversation during the process, or tell funny or exciting stories from your photography experiences.
Use Natural Poses
The goal of taking family photos is to capture the special moments as they happen, not as they are staged. However, it is not always easy to get good candid shots. It is essential you use natural poses that are simple and make your subjects comfortable. This can be achieved by letting people lean on something instead of standing straight, taking slow walks, or asking questions, so the models think about something. Concentrating on answers will make people look more focused and thoughtful.
Avoid Empty Backgrounds
To make family photos truly special, avoid empty spaces and backgrounds. Choose a location that is personally important to the family, for example, the place where the couple first met or the park where they used to take the kids when they were little.
6 Useful Ideas for Family Photography
As a family photographer, you’re expected to develop new and exciting ideas to incorporate during your photo shoots. While each family is different, these ideas are flexible enough to be used in various settings.
Play around with the focus by blurring out the locations, backgrounds, or certain family members—for example, when you want to show a newborn as the newest addition to the family. Focus on the baby while keeping the parents blurred in the background, giving the picture more impact.
Photos in the City
Busy streets, urban landmarks, skyscrapers, abandoned warehouses, vibrant murals—these are aspects that show an urban setting. Shooting the city can give photos a new dimension and add to your theme. Keep the backgrounds in focus for more vibrancy.
You can play with locations, outfits, and scenarios to turn it into a retro family photo shoot. Use the ‘80s or ‘90s theme with classic clothing choices and hairstyles. Another way to make the retro motifs more prominent in the shot is to make the photos black and white in post-production.
Snap a few family photos in style as you find a common theme to feature. It can be season-specific activities and clothing, dressing up in costumes, monochrome vibes, holiday themes, outdoor activities, sports-themed, or more. Ask the family what theme and vision they have in mind and prepare the shoot accordingly.
Few things are more universally loved by families than relaxing picnics in spring or summer. Choose a beautiful park or grassland and have the family dress up in outfits reminiscent of picnics—hats, flowing dresses, pastel colors, and sandals. Pair it with picnic essentials like a food basket and mat and use the sunlight to take vibrant and lively photos.
Have all the relatives dress up in matching outfits for the photo shoot like pajamas or all blues. Depending on the attire chosen, you can go with either posed photos or candid ones. Add more depth to the moments by choosing unusual locations like the backdrop of a busy road or vibrant murals. There’s a lot of room for exploration.
Friluftsliv refers to ‘free air life’—the immersive and healing power of nature. Take the family photo shoot outdoors into beautiful landscapes for relaxed and candid poses. Mountains, grasslands, forests, places near lakes, rivers, and streams—that’s where the idea comes alive. Showcase a relaxing stroll or any outdoor activity like hiking or camping.
5 Trends in Family Photography
Family bonds are constant, but the trends to portray them may change over time. Take inspiration from some of these new trends in family portrait photography for your next session:
01 Multi-Generational Set
How families evolve and grow over time is one of the most beautiful things you can capture. It can be done in several ways. Have the members of each generation stand in their row with the oldest in the back and the youngest in the front, or take a candid photo during a large family brunch.
02 Varying Timelines
Portray the same family members a few years apart by reenacting the same poses with the same subjects after a decade or two. A twist on this concept can be something like this: a picture of a father and uncle in their twenties is reenacted by their two sons. Take inspiration from old family photos.
03 Vibrant Colors
Vibrant colors add style and a distinct feel to the photo shoot. The entire family can choose a bright color scheme and style to wear to the shoot, which can be done with formal wear, casual wear, or traditional clothing. Also, choose bright locations such as an art studio.
04 Cozy at Home
There’s no better place to showcase family interactions than in their natural setting, so take the family photo shoot in their home. Try candid photos of everyday moments like having breakfast together, watching a movie, or capture a special moment like a bear hug with the whole family or parents playing with their kids.
05 Candid Style
The key to candid style is to make the appearance look effortless, including hairstyles, clothes, shoes, locations, and poses. Choose casual clothing and take the photos in quick succession, so the candid style shines through.
Family photography can be challenging if you don’t know the right tips and ideas. From sincere communication to knowing the technical details of lighting and camera settings, it all plays a part in taking professional family photographs. Follow some of these ideas and trends to make your next shoot truly special.
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