Family photography is a lot of fun. Creating family portraits can be very rewarding. However, if you want to build a career in this niche, you might find it a bit overwhelming to begin. After all, how do you get an entire group of people to pose? How do you interact with the little ones in the family? How do you ensure the photographs come out in good quality?
What is family photography? It is a niche or type of photography that captures the individuals in a family in group photos called family portraits to keep as memories of their household.
This article is a guide to family photography. We have a few family photography tips for you to help you tackle these issues. With a little bit of planning, creating a family portrait can become fun for both you and the family you are snapping.
9 Great Family Photography Tips
Here are nine family photography ideas that you can use to make extraordinary family portraits and have enjoyable photo sessions.
1. Always Use a Tripod
You might think you can make better family portraits if you shoot with a handheld camera. But if you do family photography with a tripod, you’ll know that it actually makes the process easier. Even though a tripod might be heavy and cumbersome, it will make the family feel more comfortable with the whole experience. There are two main reasons for this.
A. The tripod will slow down your actions. This is a good thing because it will allow you to check your camera settings, preview the exposure, and review the composition. At the same time, it will give some time-lapse to the family being snapped to get comfortable with the pose they are making. It is easy to get carried away interacting with your customers once you put your camera to the eye. Setting up everything while your camera is on the tripod is a good chance for you to make sure that you’ve got everything right.
B. It allows you to get your eye away from the camera and make proper eye contact with the subjects. This makes them feel at home to pose naturally for the photographs. Some people feel nervous when they are being photographed. Some even feel scared for no reason, which affects their facial expressions and body gestures. You have to make sure that they feel as cozy and at home as possible. After all, your subjects’ expressions will significantly impact the quality of your family photography.
2. Shoot in Manual Mode
Family photography is best done in manual mode. Assuming that you are preparing for your family portrait photoshoot beforehand, you can control all its aspects. This means once you get started with the session, you wouldn’t need to change the exposure. But if your camera is set to the shutter priority or aperture mode, the camera might end up selecting a slightly different exposure for every frame. This will not bring consistency in your shots.
Inconsistency would create more burden and work for you at the post-processing stage, so you certainly want to avoid that. All your photos must be evened out. To do that, always use manual mode to shoot family portraits. Every time you change the pose or location, check the exposure again to reconfirm it’s in manual mode.
3. Lock the Focus
Just like you don’t want your exposure to be disrupted during the photo session, you also don’t want the focus to change. If you are using a tripod, which we recommend, your camera will not be moving. If your subjects are grouped in a static position, they wouldn’t be moving much either. The only thing left to be concerned about is the distance of the subjects from the camera.
The best way to deal with this is to set your camera to focus lock, back button focus, or manual focus. These settings will help maintain the focus in one position throughout your family photography session.
4. Stagger the Heads
When you do family photography, you definitely want to avoid a boring straight line or straight column of heads. Interesting family portraits are those that show diagonal lines. Try to pose your subjects in this manner by staggering the heads.
Imagine that there is a line that connects each of their faces. Position them in a way that nobody’s head is right on top of or next to the other’s. The goal is to create diagonal lines that do not look like straight flagpoles.
If their heights are not making a diagonal line in a standing position, use props and make some of them be seated. You can also use small folding stools or chairs. Let some of them sit down while others keep standing. Use objects of suitable heights to pose them appropriately. Arrange them in a way that the heights get staggered.
The last thing you want is your subjects looking too stiff or rigid in the photographs. Tell them to relax their muscles and let them bend their body parts a little because that generally makes people look more comfortable. Here are a few ways you can suggest to them to pose for the family photography session.
Ask them to shift their body weight to one foot. This will make them relax their hip bones and appear less stiff.
Ask them to put one hand in a pocket. This will give their pose a more natural look.
Get them to hook one finger on their belt. This style has the tendency to make them feel more stylish and hence get more comfortable.
If a subject is sitting, get them to lean a bit forward and put more weight on one hip.
If a subject is standing and leaning against something, get them to cross their feet and relax their shoulders.
6. Let the Kids Be Kids
Children are actually a lot more natural in posing than grown-ups. In fact, giving them too many instructions can spoil their mood and make them look grumpy in the photos. When doing family photography, let the kids be the way they are. Do not set any strict ground rules for them to pose. You can even advise the parents not to give stern instructions to the kids to “be good and smile”. These statements put too much pressure on the children, and they get nervous about the photography session. Instead, it is better to just tell them that you’ll be taking a couple of family portrait shots, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
But you as a photographer will need to do some extra preparations if your subjects include children. Bring along some props. Ask the parents to bring one of the children’s favorite books or toys. If the kids are not in the mood to sit and pose, don’t pressure them. Let them run around for a while and take shots of them during their playful mood. After a while, when they’re a bit tired, ask them to sit down and smile.
7. Flatter Your Subjects a Little
Everyone likes to be told that they look good. It is helpful to let your subjects know that they look beautiful together. This will brighten up their mood and make them smile graciously for the family photography session.
No matter how wonderful you set up the exposure and lighting, if your subjects are not feeling good in the photo-taking moment, they will not like the photos you take. To build your career in family photography, you’ll need to learn how to effectively flatter your subjects.
Whichever type of photography you’re doing, lighting is king. Light can either make or break the quality of your family portraits. The most important thing to take care of is to make sure you get enough light into each subject’s eyes. To do this effectively, choose a time during the day when sunlight is sufficiently bright enough, especially if you’re shooting outdoors. An hour before dusk is usually the best time, as the sun is relatively lower in the sky and does not strike the eyes too harshly.
9. Expression is Everything
Just like lighting, the facial expressions of your subjects can also make or break the quality of your family photography service. Professional photographers always know the right things to say to lighten up the mood of the subjects. Your job is to make them smile happily and naturally, even if that means you need to act like a comedian or clown at times.
These were our family photography tips. If you are building a career in photography, the best way to promote your service is through a portfolio website, where you’ll publish all the family portraits you have taken in the past. There are surely many families looking for quality family photography service out there. They need to know that you exist and can provide this service at a reasonable price.
The easiest way to create a website is to register at Strikingly. Once you create an account on our platform, all you need to do is select a suitable template that will serve as your web design. Then upload a gallery of photographs through our user-friendly Strikingly editor. These photographs must show your past work in the field of family photography. With a professional portfolio website built on Strikingly, you’ll be all set on your path to get more and more clients to grow your business.