Family photography may at first glance appear to be one of the easiest genres to ‘get right’ but that very familiarity with your subjects can present problems for you as a photographer. In order to make good and impactful photographs you have to be distant from your subject matter yet be empathic.
With this in mind you will be identified by members of your own family as ‘the official photographer’ due to your obvious interest in photography. family get together’s will present themselves as perfect opportunities to capture family portraits whether individual or a large generational picture.
However, when you get out your camera, some of your family may groan and run for the door to escape. But don’t give up! Getting a fantastic picture of your family doesn’t have to be a painful experience for either you or your subjects, especially if you put a few simple photo tips to use.
Posing Techniques When Photographing Your Family
Firstly, try to position everyone so that their heads are close together. This usually helps to make everyone look extra friendly and happy. You should, if possible also try to plan what your family are wearing for their photograph. This may not always be possible for a big family gathering but if you could advise your family before the day to wear bright solid colours rather than vivid patterns which pull the viewers eyes away from the subject.
For a Great Family Picture, Keep Things Simple
Try to put all your creative effort into photographing the one main subject ie. the group. You can take lots of extra informal shots of your family as the mill around. Take plenty of additional photos, so don’t worry about including everybody and everything in one picture. If you put too much stuff in your photo it will look messy. The best option is to keep things as simple as possible. Try to crop as you frame, meaning don’t have lots of extraneous information cluttering up the viewfinder. You will soon get the hang of this. You just need to be aware of your field of view and not be sloppy allowing trees and buildings etc to dominate the scene rather than the actual subject matter.
If you are photographing a number of different family members in a group they in essence become one subject. Therefore ensure you crop tightly and emphasise their relationship with each other rather than have lots of space between them which will detract from the impact of them as a subject. Don’t be afraid to ‘direct’ your family. This may mean getting them to move in closer or put an arm around each other. Often people will happily take to direction, more so than you may think.
And Lastly… Think about the ambient light when photographing your family
As photographers we know the best light is either early morning or late afternoon or evening. This is when richness and depth of light is available so if possible try to get your family together for a group shot at these times of day. This is of course not always possible due to the event they are attending itself such as a christening or wedding. But, the principle still stands. If this is not possible then try to get them all into bright open shade or light just inside a doorway or a window. You may need to think about ‘fill in flash’ to avoid unsightly shadows.
The best advice when thinking of a family photography group is to have a balance, if possible between being relaxed and directing their attention. This is an art but it is not impossible!