More Fantastic Family Portraiture Tips

Shooting group portraits, especially those of your family, can be challenging since you are dealing not just with a single model, but several of them. Each member would be different in height, looks and personality and not only will you be focusing on how to create the shot but also how to successfully direct the family to pose. We previously explained some tried and tested family portraiture tips, and here are some effective suggestions you can use as to how to take great family portraits:

1. Vary the eye levels of your subjects – visually pleasing group shots usually have the subjects at different heights. Have some people sit while others stand. This will lessen the sense of monotony in the shot.

2. Make subjects interact – have the subjects in your family photographs get closer together. Minimizing the gaps between the subjects provides a sense of closeness. A family setting should connote a sense of intimacy and love. Ideally have each member hug, hold hands, or touch the person closest to them. Body language links people together and this is the perfect example to relay feelings or emotional impact when looking at the photograph. When your subjects are lined up for a photograph, position them at slight angles to each other and make sure that their shoulders overlap so that they will not look awkward. When dealing with large groups in a single shot, break them down into smaller groups to make it easier for you to coordinate the shot. You can arrange them in a diamond, zigzag or triangular formation.

3. Make sure your subjects do not blink during the shot – when shooting group photographs, the hardest part is not having at least one of them blink. It is easy to reshoot for small groups but for larger groups, it is next to impossible. It does not help to shoot in continuous mode because one is bound to blink. Do a countdown to make sure that everyone is aware that you will be clicking the shutter button any moment so that they will be conscious and will not blink. A really useful tip is to tell all your subjects to close their eyes at the same time and do a countdown, then open their eyes all at once. This will surely guarantee that they will all have their eyes open at the same time without needing to blink.

4. Choose a lens that has the right focal length – the most eye-catching portrait images are created using lenses without zoom, known as prime lenses. Some zoom lenses can also give you great close-up shots. Wide-angle lenses can make subjects wider than they actually are while telephoto lenses have the reverse effect and can make your subjects appear flat. Beautiful portrait images can be captured using lenses with focal range of 50mm-100mm. Having a shallow depth of field blurs the background and brings the focus to the subject. 

5. Get your subjects’ attention – when you are dealing with grown-ups and teenagers, getting their attention for a few seconds will not be as difficult compared to when you are dealing with babies, toddlers and older children. You will need to capture the attention of younger subjects to get a good shot. You may have to try hard to make them laugh, to the point of being silly. You can ask a whole group of children to do something fun together. This will give you a candid as well as a fun image. Best of all, this can make the children comfortable for the next shot. 

On a final note, remember to include yourself in your shots because you are also a part of the family. Use your tripod, a cable release or a camera with a shutter timer. While composing the group position, leave a space for you to fit in before the timer starts counting down. 

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How to Shoot Family Portraiture

With the new year just starting, you can look forward to the many birthdays, dinner parties, trips, anniversaries and yearly holiday gatherings and plan ahead for the perfect family portraits. These photographs will serve as a celebration of your life and will be a memorabilia of priceless moments spent with your family and friends. Family portraits are probably the most treasured keepsakes handed down to you to remind you of your lineage. Nowadays, with the convenience of digital photography, you can record images of the happy gatherings you have experienced to keep the tradition going. 

Shooting the whole family within a single frame is probably the most challenging thing you may encounter in family portraiture. Especially with a growing brood of children running around all over the place, you cannot just ask them to sit still for a few minutes for a photograph.

Here are a few tips to help you capture the bond between the family in the form of an image:

1. Familiarize yourself with your subjects – since your main subjects are friends and family members, you may already be familiar with what they are conscious of and what they do not want to be glaringly obvious about themselves in a photograph. Reassure them that you know what they want and that you will try your best to get the outcome they expect and you are sure to have genuine smiles.

2. Be stealthy, move swiftly and have fun – candid shots make for great shots. Make sure your subjects are comfortable and are in their element. Allow them to move spontaneously and be ready to capture those rare moments. Have your camera ready at all times and check battery life and camera settings so that you are always prepared.

3. Pay attention to the background  -neutral and solid colors are ideal for backgrounds. If you are shooting outdoors, make sure that you use a variety of angles for your shot. A low or high angled shot can remove unnecessary clutter in the background that can be distracting. 

4. Get color coordinated – it would be ideal to have family members wear color coordinated outfits. It can be quite tricky, though, but pastels and vibrant colors can enhance the final outcome of your photographs. If celebrating a birthday party, you can have the birthday celebrant wear a bright colored garment while the guests can wear muted tones to make the celebrant the main focus of attention. Keep in mind that a lot of clashing colors and busy patterns can be an eyesore.

5. Have adequate lighting – lighting is always important in any type of photograph. Even lighting is ideal but may not be available all the time. The best times for even lighting are at 8am and 5:30pm. These times are known as the golden hours, when natural lighting is warm and soft and can flatter any subject. Remind yourself to notice that the faces of your subjects are equally lit. When shooting indoors, utilize a flash or any type of natural soft lighting emanating from the windows. Try to arrange the subjects close to the light source and position them slightly to one side of the direction of the light. This will create the illusion of depth through shadows as well as highlights. Another tip: frontal lighting is the most common way to shoot family portraits. However, the image could come out flat and dull. The best way to avoid this is to use sidelighting with a reflector such as a white sheet or cloth to bounce back the light to the group. This will lessen hard shadows and further enhance your subjects. When shooting outdoors, try to position yourself and your subjects under a tree or a shady area to get even lighting.

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