A Family Affair – Getting Great Family Portraits

We have all seen those awkward family photos with strange, unnatural poses, backdrops and matching clothes that no one would actually wear in their everyday lives. Luckily, these kinds of photo shoots are mostly only just memories from the early 80’s and 90’s and modern photography trends allow for a more natural approach.

Family portraits are often displayed in homes for many years, which makes it extremely important to, when actually deciding to do a photoshoot such as this, be sure to hire a skilled and experienced family photographer, who is able to capture the personalities of individual family members and the chemistry between them.

Gone are the days of awkward, stilted photographs, thanks to many a modern family photographer opting for outdoor shoots, themed shoots or even at-home shoots that are natural, stylish and timeless.

Family photography is generally very flexible and allows both the photographer and the subjects to be at ease and to bring a little creativity to the table. Inexperienced photographers, however, will often make a few mistakes. Be sure to avoid the following when opting to do a family shoot:

• Subjects that tilt their heads toward one another

• Unprepared equipment and settings

• Use auto flash

• Ignore composition or colour

• Take pictures that need extensive cropping

• Take pictures in direct, harsh sunlight

• Ignore the details

• Take the shoot at night

• Be conservative

Now, it’s all good and well to know what not to do, but here are a few tips for family photos that are fun, good-looking and high-quality: 

• Welcome ideas but stay with the agreed theme/style

• Use a tripod

• Shoot with manual exposure

• Get different heights by letting everyone pose differently

• Put everyone at ease

• Don’t ask kids to “fake smile”

• Get flattering angles

• Perfect your lighting

• Bring out the eyes

• Have fun

• Incorporate architecture

It can be difficult to control between four and seven (or even more) people and getting each one to do a certain thing so the key is to go with the flow while keeping it slow to ensure great, energetic pictures.

The photographer who takes family portraits is usually a moonlighting psychologist, as they need to get to know the family on a personal level to be able to capture the essence of the members and may also use this knowledge to strategically decide who takes pictures first and where to place whom in a group shot.

The good thing about family portraits or shoots is that they don’t have to be too planned and too poised, so it is the perfect platform for the family to get memories of them doing the things they actually love.

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