Taking family photos is not as difficult as it might seem. Although portraits of individuals can be interesting, shots of the whole family together are usually the photos that are most appealing, especially if you can organize a gathering of all three generations of child, parent and grandparent.
Having them stand in a row is the most obvious way to pose three people. Just make sure that everybody is close to each other and that they have a smile on their face. They have to be relaxed while they pose, otherwise the family photo is going to look a bit static.
If there is a variation in the height of people you photograph, it's best to place the person who is tallest in the middle of a family portrait. That way you will create a triangle effect. What can further improve the composition is asking them to stand behind, so they are looking through the shoulders of the other two.
If the difference in height is small, try finding something for the individual at the back to stand on. For example, a few thick books or magazines. The aim of all this is creating a sense of depth by placing some people behind or in front of the others. You also prevent all of the eyes being at the same height, making the photo more interesting.
If you want to use a small aperture of f/11 or f/16, you have to make sure there is a lot of light in the room. If this is not the case, you will have to open up your aperture. Just remember that when you do this, you need to keep everyone at roughly the same distance from the camera, so they all appear sharp later.
It's also a good idea to make use of various locations which are available in the family home: conservatories are usually filled with lots of light the most interesting and appealing furniture is often in lounges and the most natural place to photograph teens is probably in their bedrooms, in front of some poster.
Another good way to take family photos is having them stand in front of their house. If you want to include lots of surroundings, you need to use a wide-angle lens, preferably placing the family to one side of the frame. If you want everything from front to back to appear sharp, again, the same rule applies, you need to set the aperture to f/11 or f/16.
No matter how well you know the people you are photographing, they almost always appear nervous when you ask them to pose. If you don't find a way to make them feel relaxed and you proceed shooting instead, this nervousness will show in the photos. This is actually the reason why the best photographs are usually the ones which are not posed.
As far as taking family photos outside is concerned, you need to take care of the lighting, particularly if the sunlight is strong. What you can do in this case is find a shady area, for example under a canopy or tree. This way you are cutting out the toplight, which causes shadows under the chin, nose and eyes. You also get the light that comes in from the side and front, making a nice effect which works really well for groups of all sizes.
Another good idea is finding a building or wall in front of which you can take photographs. Places like these usually provide a reflected light, which is beautifully soft and gentle, perfect for all kinds of portraits. A similar effect can be improvised by screening off an area alongside your subject. If you want to have the ultimate family portrait, wait for the sunset and use its golden glow as illumination. If you want to learn how to take family photos, the aforementioned tips will surely pave your way to a perfect family photograph.
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