Whether they capture your first moments with a newborn or an extended family reunion, your family photos are an eternal gateway back to the most precious moments with the family. Unfortunately, everything from inadequate equipment and lighting to rigid poses and restless children may hinder your quest for the perfect family photo shoot. Use these photography tips to capture the quality images that make you smile with nostalgia for years to come.
Strive for Natural Poses and Expressions
If you're tired of seeing boring, lifeless family photos, get creative with your poses. Avoid the forced look of having everyone stand in a straight line. Instead, stagger heads with some family members sitting down, some members on higher areas, adults crouched with the kids behind or other dynamic options. Loosen up rigid family members by asking them to put a hand on a hip, bend a leg or cross their arms. This way, everyone can enjoy a more flattering pose while creating an eye-popping image for the scrapbook.
To avoid awkward, fake smiles, never ask family members to say "cheese" or any other word that's meant to elicit a toothy smile. Instead, say something to make the family laugh, or keep snapping photos while they're talking to each other. Photos with children and babies should follow the same procedure. Have someone behind the camera make goofy faces or tell the kids a funny joke. Just make sure the adults keep looking at the camera even if the kids are having a laughing fit.
Pay Attention to Lighting
If you want to capture the natural tones and shadows that bring a family photo to life, choose the right time of day to capture natural lighting. Plan to shoot about an hour before dusk for diffused, directional sunlight that adds soft shadows and dimension to faces. If you have to shoot during midday, look for a shaded spot that doesn't have a bright background, such as the shade of a building or forest. Avoid overcast days since the overhead lighting can darken the eyes.
If you can't get enough natural light, make use of reflectors that cast overhead light back onto the family's faces from another direction. You can also use external flash devices to light up evening portraits. Just remember to take some test shots to make sure the lighting has a natural look. If you can't see the light source reflected in the eyes of the subjects, it's not bright enough.
Never Go Without a Tripod
Whether you're setting the timer to get in on the photo or you're snapping the shots yourself, use a tripod so you can slow down and focus on the task at hand. A tripod lets you adjust white balance, ISO, composition and exposure without feeling rushed or tired. Plus, it makes getting the perfect angle a snap, and the complete stillness leads to sharper photos that better capture even the tiniest twinkle in a child's eye.
Invest in a Quality Photo Printer
Of course, the most beautifully composed picture becomes no more than a mediocre photograph without high-quality printing. Whether the photo is going over the mantle of the fireplace or into a photo album, you want a photo printer that provides rich colors and sharp images that bring you back to the moment.
When shopping for a printer, don't worry about speed. Instead, look at maximum size for printing paper, output quality and claimed photo lifetime. For family reunions and vacations, consider a portable photo printer so everyone can take a copy home with them.
If you already have and know how to tinker with a high-quality digital camera, you're ready to get out and start snapping photos of the family. Remember that there is no such thing as too many photos, and candid shots of family members interacting are often some of the most memorable.
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