Family photos at home

Normally in spring, I am out and about all over the country capturing families and creating memories of the brand new members of the family and the older mischievous ones!

Unfortunately my list has been put on hold until later in the year, which makes me really sad for everyone that was looking for their portraits updated in spring time. So I was thinking, everyone is at home these days so why not have a go at it yourself with these 5 quick tips for taking your own family photos!

As a professional photographer I’ve taken thousands of photos for families through the years. Whether it’s a brand new family or to simply record the growth of your family over the the years – family photos are so important to a lot of people. While having family photos taken is a priority, it’s not always possible to invest the time and money in a professional photo session each year. The majority of my clients that return to me would be every 4/5 years, either with a new family member or when the family is complete.

Today I wanted to share some quick tips to help you photograph your own family, until you get the chance to get your professional shoot – it’s easier than you think!

Tip 1 - plan ahead

Know where you what to go! I know at the moment we can not go far, but you use your back garden or even a field behind your house, will do the same job! As long as it provides a nice backdrop. Plan a time where you won’t be rushed, when everyone is in top form, baby has had a nap and Daddy has had his breakfast!

Have a plan as far as photos you’d like to take and poses you’d like to capture so you can be quick and efficient. Being realistic in your planning and let your family in on your expectations will do a lot to ensure the success of your family photos. Look up images on the internet and Show the kids how they might pose. Hugs are my faves, you can never go wrong with a hug!

Tip 2 - use the right tools

To take your own family photos you’re going to need to use a tripod and a your camera’s self timer and/or a camera remote if you have a DSLR camera. If you’re planning to take your photos with a point and shoot camera or your phone, a Gorilla Pod flexible Tripod or something similar is helpful. You can mount these on anything really and snap a quick photo of your family. Most modern phones have a self timer option that you can use to get in the shot, they have a 3 or 10 second delay on them.

Tricks for shooting with the self timer

  • Pose your family - making sure to leave space for yourself to jump in
  • Take a test shot before getting in the shot to make sure your settings are correct
  • Make any adjustments
  • It’s very important to set your camera’s or phone's focus before getting into the shot.
  • Choose an individual in your group to focus on - best to focus on the person in the middle of the shot

Note: All images from this post were taken using my Nikon DLSR with a 35mm lens

Tip 3 - Keep it simple

Taking the photos and being in them is a lot of work, so keep things simple. Choose a limited number of poses you’d like to capture and keep yourself to a specific time ie: 30 minutes to 1 hour. This helps the kids co operate when they know they have a set amount of time to do photos.

Make the most of your time by knowing what images you hope to capture ahead of time and take advantage of the opportunity to snap a few shots of just the kids having fun playing with toys or exploring by climbing walls or jumping in long grass. These are the best and most popular in the family portraits I do, as if I wasn't there and the kids are just playing naturally, you will look back on these days with fond memories!

Keep your photo background simple as well, you don’t want the backdrop to take away from the subjects. Things like a neutral coloured wall, green fields or forest will work well. Placing your family a few feet in front of your backdrop will help with blurring the background and will naturally make your family stand out.

Tip 4 - Strike a pose

When it comes to posing your family look for visual triangles. Have people’s heads at different levels. Bring along a chair or find something in the environment to sit/stand on, like a fence or a wall. Notice the visual triangles at work in the images below. They draw the eye around the photograph and create a pleasing composition.

With group photography posing is important and so are your settings, especially your aperture. Aperture settings are what will determine how much of your photo is in focus. With a larger group, you want to set your camera to small f-stop 8 (larger number) so more of your group will be in focus. (ie: Image below with the old castle in the background) If it is a small group or one person up close, I like to shoot from f-stop 1.4 - 2.8 as it blurs out the background more to make the subjects stand out (ie: black and white images below) showing depth of field.

Tip 5 - make it fun

Make it less about getting the perfect photo and more about the moment, each other and the thought of what memories will be triggered by these photos in years to come. This will take a little bit of the pressure off and help everyone to relax and just enjoy the time together as a family.

The perfect family photo may not necessarily be the one you envision. Open your mind, relax, have fun with it and the photos will reflect a lovely memory of time spent together. If you are relaxed, your children will be too. Have a practice run at home before you get dressed up, so you are at ease with your camera/phone settings and you will enjoy the experience more.

TOP TIP, bribe them with treats when it is over! Preferably not before or during as they may get on a sugar high and then its all over before it even starts!

With thanks to the Brogan family for the use of their images. Taken at Crom Estate, Co. Fermanagh