Family Photo Tips

Have Your Holiday and Keep it, Too

A Beginner’s Guide to Family Portraits

Anyone who routinely spends time around older friends and relatives has likely heard the phrase “They grow up so fast,” typically accompanied by a nostalgia-fuelled sigh. When you’re a young parent, it’s easy to be caught up in the moment, and miss some of the big picture of your family– a picture that you could ideally hang above your mantelpiece or by your bedside. Many parents find themselves dissatisfied with their photo documentation once kids start getting older, realizing that many of their memories are just that– with no solid record of the events themselves to pour over as the memories fade; however, it doesn’t have to turn out that way. With a little effort and experimentation, you can preserve your memories in beautiful portraits that will last a lifetime. Here are some tips to make that happen.

1. Choosing a Location

Choosing a location is on a surface level, easy, but in reality it’s one of the most important and defining decisions of your shoot. The first thing you need to consider with location is the realism it lends to the photo, as it pertains to your specific family identity. Like museums? Why not head to the Exploratorium and make a day out of your shoot? Hike to your favorite nature location, visit your favorite restaurant, or perhaps just recreate a favorite activity in the home– so long as it feels true to your cherished memories, it’s a good location for a shoot. The next considerations are more technical: avoiding crowds, placing shade in front of and behind your subjects, and shooting in the right color scheme to fit with your outfits (and the frame you plan on using); however, so long as your theme and activity are good, the photograph will mean exponentially more, no matter the technical expertise.

2. Camera Settings

Easily the most complex part of the process, the settings you use for your photoshoot will end up being the determining factor of the “photo quality” immediately visible in your pictures. While having a nicer camera capable of capturing the highest resolution is nice, it’s actually the settings such as Aperture, Shutter Speed, and Exposure that give your photo the “professional touch” that most people look for. These settings will allow you to blur the background, experiment with light and shadows, or perfectly focus your photos on your subjects, and while they may be complicated to learn, they’re definitely worth the effort.

3. Planning and Poses

Depending on the age of your subjects, this can be the easiest or hardest part of the process. The first step is choosing outfits that fit with the theme and color scheme of the photo; however, make sure not to overcomplicate things. Eye-catching clothing has its place, but in a family portrait the focus should be on the group of subjects, not what they’re wearing. After your outfits are selected, the poses can be decided upon. While there are an infinite number of poses to experiment with, it’s not recommended that you take a sitting portrait. Not only can this crumple the body in an unflattering way, it can make the process much more difficult if you’re running back and forth to the tripod to the sitting position while trying to take the photos.

(Alt). Skip the Hassle!

While all this is possible to do on your own, the amount of effort and self-taught camerawork required is often out of the question for a young family. Not only that, but managing the shoot while simultaneously managing the subjects can be particularly tricky, especially with young children. A simple solution to this is to hire a professional portrait photographer with the experience and skills necessary to walk you through the process, which cuts down on the stress of wearing the many hats of both parent and photographer. In the end, it may simply be the better option to hire a professional to truly capture your family moments, giving you an astoundingly beautiful record to cherish for years to come.

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