Tis the season for family portraits! Whether you will use them for family gifts or to share on your holiday greeting cards, having at least one photograph that captures this year's special moments is a must! What's that? You haven't had the opportunity to schedule your session, and your favorite photographer is booked into next years? Fear not! We want to help. The following tips will help make your DIY family portraits looks like a professional took them.
Who, What, Where, When?
The first things you should tackle are: 1) WHO is going to be included in the photo (immediate family, extended family, generational, etc.); 2) WHAT will you be wearing (coordinated outfits are the best bet); 3) WHERE are you going to take the photos (remember to make sure there will adequate lighting at the specific time of your shoot); 4) When are going to take the photos (the Golden Hour-that period of time shortly before sunrise/sunset when the light is softer- is best, if you can)
As far as your camera, the key is to use what you are familiar with, whether it is a DSLR, a point and shoot, or a smartphone, and learn how to maximize the features it has, instead of trying something totally new. Practice with it ahead of time and you will rock every shot! One feature that will make your life easier is a timer. This will allow you to set up the photo and still be a part of the picture. Another is the option to take multiple images when the trigger is depressed, which helps relieve to stress over eyes being closed.
Another piece of equipment that is priceless when taking your own family portrait is tripod. Place your camera/device, which has been set up with at least a 10 second timer, on the tripod, then situate everyone else as you want them to appear in the shot, press the button, and RUN to take your place in the group.Some of the best smiles have come from everyone laughing as the person rushes from the camera to their spot in the photo.
Taking time to do a little research and plan out several posing options will help you achieve the shots you want more quickly. This can be invaluable, especially when working with smaller children whose attention spans are shorter. It is best to photograph the entire group, then individuals or smaller groups (i.e. just the kids, one parent with each child, etc.). Some great tips for posing your family can be found by doing a search on your favorite search engine (The Classic V-Pose; Close Up/Tight of Group; Hug into the Middle; Action, etc.). Points of contact are important when posing your family. By having each member making contact with the person next to them the image appears more connected.
Well thought out props can add that extra special touch to you image. Props that make your shot easier (blankets for damp or rough areas; chairs, crates, stools make variation in height easier to photograph; special signs that lend meaning to the image, etc.) are always recommended. The background can even functions as a prop sometimes(barn doors, play equipment, wooden slat fences).
Once you have these details figured out, start snapping! The more photos you take the better... with digital images it is easy to remove unwanted shots. The main goal is to capture images that show the personality of your family, not a perfectly posed picture. So have a little fun while you are at it (and stop as soon as the good time ends)!!
Hello! I'm Sean and I'm a professional wedding and portrait photographer with more than 20 years of experience. I'm based out of Durham, N.C. and we service Asheville, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and beyond North Carolina photographing weddings, families and seniors. When I'm not behind the lens, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Molly, and our two young daughters, Hattie and Rori.