Secrets to Picture-Perfect Family Photos

Are you looking for the secrets of taking perfect family photos? Look no further. These tips will help you take better pictures in no time flat; no photography degree required.

Planned Family Pictures

If you are planning your family photos ahead, ask that family members' clothes be similar in color as well as texture and style. This will give the picture a uniform appearance and won't make one family member stand out. You might also suggest bringing 1 or 2 different changes of clothing to experiment with what looks best overall on camera.

Of course, if your purpose is to make a family member stand out, have that family member wear a color that contrasts with the rest of the group.

Locations for Family Photos

Avoid locations that have a lot of clutter in them. For example, if you pick a family room with lots of toys on the floor, the viewer's eye will be attracted to the toys as well as the children that are posed in the room. This is not to say that you can't use a prop. You just don't want to have dozens of props that distract the eye.

If you are outside, make sure that the landscape adds to the photograph rather than detracts from the picture. For instance, you want to avoid telephone wires and trash cans in the background or an errant tree branch "growing" at a strange angle out from someone's body.

Photographing Family Pictures Outdoors

The best outside light to have when taking family photos is a slightly overcast day. If the sun is shining, don't take your pictures in direct sunlight. In addition, avoid a mix of direct sunshine and shadows. The resulting shade-sunlight exposure is unflattering to people's faces. You may have to use a fill-flash if your family is in shadows or shade.

Camera Angle in Family Portraits

There is a secret to how to make a good speech, reduce stage fright and still make the audience feel involved. A good speaker will look at the foreheads of the people seated in the audience when standing. Since the speaker is looking down on the audience, the individuals in the audience think that the speaker is looking at each and every one of them. At the same time, the speaker doesn't get caught focusing on one specific individual.

This same concept applies to taking photographs. When your camera angle is at eye level or above, your subjects are forced to look up, making their eyes seem bigger and minimizing any double chins in the crowd. The result is a more intimate, better looking picture.

Focus in Family Pictures

How do you want to focus your family photos? For a blurred background in your family photographs, chose the smallest f-stop (aperture) on your camera. If you want the whole picture to be in focus, use a higher f-stop. Using a higher f-stop on your camera is particularly important if you have more than one row of family members in the picture.

Standing Still and Family Photos

You don't just have to worry about getting your subjects to remain still. As the photographer, you have to stand still, too. If you move or shake your camera while you are taking pictures, you won't be happy with the results.

In order to take an "unshakeable" picture:

- Stand with your weight distributed equally between both feet, if possible keep your feet flat on the ground;

While staying as comfortable as you can, hold your elbows into the sides of your body to provide more stability and keep your camera still; and

Just before you take your shot, take a deep breath and hold the air in your chest. Then, gently squeeze the shutter.

If all else fails, use a tripod.

You in Your Family Photographs

What should you do if you want to be in the family photos? First, decide how and where everyone should stand, including you. Next;

  • Set up your tripod and camera;
  • Turn on the automatic timer;
  • Set your camera to shoot continuously;
  • RUN to where you are supposed to be in the picture;
  • Be still; and
  • Don't blink.

Blinking in Family Portraits

You can minimize the possibility of having closed eyes when taking your family photos by having everyone close their eyes before you take your shot. On the count of 3, 5 or the number of your choice, have them open their eyes. Take the picture right after the count. This helps minimize pictures of closed eyes.

Candid Family Pictures

You can't always control everyone in family pictures. In fact, you shouldn't all of the time. Candid family pictures are fun to take and fun to keep.

If people are stiff around you and your camera, you can start the ball rolling by beginning to tell a family story that someone in the group can take over while you shoot. In addition, you can always sneak up on family groups, snap a few pictures and sneak off.

Family Photos and Children

Remember that little ones have short attention spans. Plan the "who-what-when-and-where" aspects of your shoot in advance as much as possible. Then, get everyone in line and shoot quickly.

If you are taking family photos at a family party or reunion, don't wait until late in the day to take pictures with kids. Tired kids have unhappy faces. Tired kids also cry and upset other over-excited children, which can lead to more tears.

Taking Family Portraits and the Rules

In the case of photography, rules are sometimes meant to be broken. For example, you don't always have to take pictures from the "eye-to-above-the-eye" angle. Experiment with other angles for a different "look." You may be pleased with the results.

If you are new at photography or are experimenting with new techniques, don't stress out about whether or not you are getting enough good family photographs in comparison to how many shots you take. In some ways, the more pictures you take, the more likely you are to get the perfect picture or pictures.

When you are smiling and looking like you are having a good time, your subjects are more likely to respond positively. Have some jokes or funny stories to tell. Enlist some kids to help you set up equipment. Have a few shots where everyone makes funny faces. Relax and have fun.