There are lots of great reasons why you should learn how to take family portraits and you don’t even have to embark on a photography career to do so. Having portraits professionally done can be just too expensive for many families. And often it can be difficult to get everyone to the studio at the scheduled time.
Every family deserves to have at least one good family portrait together but it’s nice to have additional portraits as the family grows and ages. If you want to learn how to take portraits, learn by taking a portrait of your family or someone you know who would love to have a family portrait! And don’t forget to get in the picture too, if you’re taking your own family portrait! Always make sure to use a camera that has a remote shutter button release or a self timer.
If you’re just learning photography, taking portraits will also help refine your other photographic skills.
Without further ado, here are some tips to help you get started taking memorable family portraits, whether formal or informal.
1) Avoid the “Police Line Up” Portrait – Instead of lining everyone up shoulder to shoulder, try a more natural arrangement that also makes it easier to to fit a bunch of people into one picture.
Staggering the subjects in the photo is one technique that works well for group pictures. For example, you may want to stagger family members on the front steps of a porch or around a group of boulders so some family members are standing and others sitting. If in a park, two siblings might sit on a low hanging branch of a tree or all could sit on the lawn clustered together. Space family members together to show family closeness.
2) Show Relationships – You can do this with placement in the family portrait poses. For example, Grandma and Grandpa might stand next by each other, a toddler in their parent’s arms, or siblings with their arms slung around each other.
3) Consider Including the Family Pets – if they will hold still long enough. Even if the pet is stilling still, you probably should increase the Shutter Speed Priority to 1/250 to avoid blur from small movements like a wagging tail. It’s always easier to take an individual portrait of someone with their pet (or their pet separately) but if the family has a calm pet, try to take some pictures with and without the family pet.
4) Get Creative with Props – depending on the type of portrait you want. Does the family play community baseball? Each family member could hold a ball, bat or mitt. This is popular for individual portraiture that works well for family portraits too.
5) Get Everyone Smiling – Instead of just having them say “cheese,” put them at ease by talking to them so they’ll become more relaxed and real. When you’ve got everyone posed and smiling, ask the family to hold them until you give them the signal that you got the shot.
Always try to make it fun and take lots of pictures so the family can choose the pictures they like the best. You will be sure to get some good portraits where the family will feel proud to display them on their wall for all to enjoy.