- Make a Plan. Figure out where you will take the picture.
2. Lighting. lighting is a very important element to photography. Knowing this, it makes total sense to time your outdoor photography shoots strategically, too. Right! My favorite picture times are morning and evening. Ideal is up 2 hours after dawn and 2 hours before sunset. Cloudy days can actually be good for this sort of thing if it’s just mild overcast as the shadows are a lot softer, the time of day matters a lot less, and no one is squinting or wearing sunglasses or a hat. Overhead sun causes shadows under the eyes and nose and makes relaxing the eyes next to impossible. Shade is a great asset to moments of intense sun, but beware of shade from trees and objects that will cause splotchy lighting.
3. Camera Metering. This is a pretty simple thing to do if you know your camera! Metering is just doing the same pose with 3 settings on your camera. That way you have 3 to choose from. I do one photo where I think the settings should be. Then I do one with the F stop one stop down and up. That way you get the perfect exposure.
4. Equipment. I’m a huge believer in a tripod. It tells everyone where to look and it helps ensure we walk a way with a few pictures from a distance (which tend to be my favorite). The other item you’ll for sure want to have with you during your photo shoot is a handheld remote or how to set the timer to get into the photo yourself.
5. Take lots of shots. Family members will look away, eyes will blink, wiggling will happen, and faces will look crazy at times (and I’m not just talking about the kids). Take a number of shots of each pose. And take a variety of poses to ensure you get at least one that looks totally natural and almost magazine worthy! I love variety…some close ups, some from a distance, some with all eyes on the camera and some when the family is laughing and enjoying each other.
6. Keep it Moving. If your family is anything like mine, Dad and the kids will loose interest before Mom does! Do your best to not get hung up on the details. When all is said and done, most of the time, natural beats perfection.
7. Pay Attention to Details: Little elements can distract from an awesome picture. Once everyone is posed and ready, do a quick scan for tangled necklaces, hair in faces, uneven spacing, too much leg showing, chins tilted down to far causing the dreaded double chin…etc.
8. Posing. Contact always looks great. Snuggle, hold hands, rub cheeks, wrap an arm around a neck, family portraits are intended to have warmth so enjoy each other. Hands can go in pockets, on hips, or crossed for a more natural look than just letting the hands hang loose on the sides. When holding a baby or child, do not put them directly under your chin…looks odd in the picture. Moms…turn your body a bit to the side, shifting weight to the back foot (the one furthest from the camera). The knee of the front leg should be slightly bent with the toe pointing towards camera.
9. End on a good note. I love that our family portrait sessions will be remembered with fond memories because we are able to end them on a good note…together! Usually we meet early, take a bunch of pictures, and then head back to one of our houses for food. 🙂
10. Editing. If the results aren’t brag worthy, remember that photography skills are gained primarily through experience. Be thankful for the memories captured and don’t give up on the portraits.