» How to take a better family portrait!

How to take a better family portrait!

Ask most photographers, and they will have probably done a family portraits at some point.  It’s quite often part of a photographers bread and butter.  Families always want great images to treasure as children grown up and at family get togethers.  However you’re not always going to get much notice if Auntie Mable (who you haven’t seen for 5 years) decides to pay a visit.  So below are some tips how to take your snaps to photo frame quality.

  • Squish your groups together – Most of the time people won’t get close enough, and end up looking like they are in a line waiting for the bus!  To get them looking like a modern family get them rubbing shoulders, which improves the overall composition of your image.  Get people to be on a slight angle with shoulders overlapping.  If you have elderly relatives there make sure you have a chairs for them, they will appreciate it and help with the whole look of the photo.
  • Co-Ordinate clothing where you can – If you can speak to the group before the shoot try and get them to co-ordinate clothing.   Remember it’s their shoot, but it might help to remind them to possibly overlap in colour schemes, nothing too extreme, prints or logos on the clothes can all make a big difference.
  • Check for blinking – If you have a large group of people it can be difficult to get an image with everyone’s eyes open.  With one or two people it’s much easier but with bigger groups it get much trickier.  So, zoom in on the image on the back of your camera and check you have an image with everyone looking the right way, and not blinking.  It’s an lot easier than trying to put it right in Photoshop later!
  • Try to be funny, and get genuine smiles – If you know the group then this can be a lot easier than a group you have never met before.  You want people to be relaxed and looking genuinely happy.  This is were you need to be silly – do a few shots before the real deal and get everyone to strike their best glamour or Madonna “Vogue” pose – get them laughing, tell a joke etc etc – take images all the time, you might get some great candid images that they will love with everyone laughing.  Then, when you have them a bit more relaxed, go for the genuine smiles with a bit more formal posing.  This like anything else depends on situation, if you have lots of young kids, it might be better to get the formal shots done first when the kids are behaving…they acting silly later will help as children soon get bored!
  • Get blurry background – this is called separation, by only having your subjects (the family) in focus and the background blurred helps draw the eye to them, the subject of your image.  To do this have the aperture of your lens fairly open – this all depends on the focal length of your lens, and the f stop you’re using.  If you have the lens wide open (say F2.8) then the background will be blurry but so might some of the group you photographed.  So a bit of practise on this (as with all the points mentioned) might be useful!
  • Lastly make sure you sound like you know what you’re doing.  Don’t say things like…that’s not working (we’ve all done it though).  Rephrase this with “That’s great let’s try a few more positions”.  The more you say it’s working, and your loving the images the more they will relax.  Even use cliches like “Love it”, “That’s a great one!”  If you act like your getting great images, and show confidence that will reflect in your subjects and produce images with more natural smiles and show confidence in your subjects.

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So, get your immediate family around and try these tips and practise the above tips.  Once you’re a bit more confident take your camera to the next big family get together and take some images the whole clan will love!

Love to hear how you get on, so please drop me a line and let me know!

Mark.

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