Picture this… everyone’s together for the holidays and you want to take some family photos. Or maybe you’re giving Grandma a framed photo of the kids for Christmas and you want it to be beautiful.
But the results fall flat… and you can’t put your finger on why. Everyone is smiling… everyone is looking at the camera… it’s in focus… what is it about your family photos that’s not quite right?
Here we have the top 4 mistakes that you should avoid when taking family photos. These tips don’t need a fancy camera – it’s just all about the light and paying close attention to your background. They’re quick and easy fixes you can do that will improve your family photos instantly.
The problem with photographing groups inside is that there’s generally not enough light!
Your images may end up too dark, and if you are shooting in auto, your camera will slow the shutter speed and caption motion. In other words – blurry photos. Or it will rely on the pop-up flash and you’ll have red eyes, overly bright faces and harsh shadows.
If you’re photographing inside look for areas that have lots of soft natural light. Try positioning your subjects near open doorways or facing window light, and shoot in manual mode so you can control your shutter speed.
If you’re shooting outside in lovely shade – perfect! It won’t be too bright and no-one will be squinting… but watch out for the dapples!
Sun streaming through the trees can be beautiful. However when you’re taking family photos, be sure that you’re not placing your subjects right in that dappled light. The result will be bright hotspots of light across their faces and bodies which is unflattering and distracting.
If your family is facing then sun, then chances are they’re going to be squinting, which is unflattering. What’s more, they’ll also be uncomfortable which isn’t capturing them at their best.
Instead, place your subjects with the sun behind them, or have them step into some open shade.
Simply paying close attention to your background can make the biggest difference in your family photos!
The photo above has uneven shadows, a compost bin and half a fence which is a lot of unnecessary elements. As a result, it’s too busy, and detracts from the gorgeous subjects up front.
Related: Clear the Clutter
So let’s summarise what you need to do instead to capture the kind of beautiful, flattering family photos you pictured in your mind’s eye…
1. Assemble your subjects in a space with a nice even or uncluttered background.
2. Remove things if you need to.
3. If indoors, look for well lit areas near windows or doorways.
4. If outdoors, ensure the sun is behind them so they’re not squinting. Alternatively, look for soft light, which you can find:
In the image below the red area is all in shade as the sun is behind the house and the porch faces the open sky. As a result, this is a perfect spot for taking lovely, well lit, uncluttered family photos!
This shot was taken with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (the nifty fifty!). Settings: f/3.2; SS 1/160; ISO 125
Related: Do You Need a Nifty Fifty Lens?
We hope this tutorial helped you put your finger on why your family photos weren’t matching your vision!