If you have decided to capture your loved ones with a professional or amateur family portrait, you may be wondering if there is anything you should know beforehand. It might sound like a relatively simple and straightforward process with a split second all that is required to seize the perfect shot but with so many personalities, emotions, and levels of patience to contend with, it can quickly become more time-consuming and stress-inducing than it needs to be. To familiarise yourself with tips for photographing families, continue reading.
1 Use a tripod if and when possible
If you are an inexperienced photographer or simply unfamiliar with photographing subjects that tend to move around, such as children or pets, you must use a tripod if and when possible. It might sound like it would be awkward or cumbersome but it can also provide you with a steady position from which to capture your subjects without having to follow them as they move around with a camera not necessarily the easiest object to walk or run with as you struggle to capture the perfect shot. This can also force you to slow down and take a breather between shots to check the lighting, composition, and exposure and make adjustments as necessary moving forward.
2 Get creative with positions
If you have ever tried to instruct your subjects on where to stand whilst taking a photo, you will know that people generally tend to become rigid and stiff in front of a camera without any clear direction. It may, therefore, be worth getting creative with positions and instructing family members to alternate between sitting and standing, bending limbs, and switching places until you are confident you have taken the perfect shot. This can be done by standing with a hand in their pocket or belt loop, sitting whilst leaning slightly forward, or leaning against a building or structure. If you are finding it difficult to explain, acting out the pose for them to follow suit is a great way to ensure they know exactly what they are doing and why.
3 Don’t have too many rules
If you are interested in capturing a family portrait that can be looked back on for generations both in physical form and on social media with the option to later print online photo books, don’t have too many rules. It can be tempting to establish a dress code, discipline bad behaviour, and generally take charge but by making it seem like a chore as opposed to an opportunity to have fun, you run the risk of boring children sooner rather than later and, as a result, failing to obtain their full attention for the entire duration of the shoot which, as the vast majority of family photographers will attest to, is the first factor you should aim to establish. To prevent this from happening, you must ensure the entire process is fun from start to finish even if you have to pull funny faces, make silly noises, or include games, toys, or props.
4 Consider natural lighting
It might sound like an obvious point but when it comes to photographing families, natural lighting can make or break a photograph, especially a family portrait. To make the most of the level of natural light available to you, you must try and reflect light in your subjects’ eyes as much as possible by shooting at the right time of day, avoiding shooting outdoors on overcast days, and cleverly positioning an external reflector or flash if necessary to make up for a lack of natural lighting. If the level of natural lighting tends to differ from position to position, you must also experiment with different backgrounds and poses until you are happy with the final outcome with lighting also able to be amended to a certain degree during post-production if need be.
If you are scheduled to photograph a family portrait for the first time as an inexperienced photographer, to increase your chances of snapping the perfect shot you must do the legwork. It may, for example, benefit you to use a tripod if and when possible, get creative with positions, don’t have too many rules, and consider natural lighting.