These Photography Secrets Will Help You DIY Professional-Looking Family Photos
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These Photography Secrets Will Help You DIY Professional-Looking Family Photos

With the tips outlined, you will have a better understanding of exactly what you need to do to DIY professional-looking family photos.

Published May 15, 2018

Sometimes you just don’t have the time (or the money) to hire a professional photographer to take your family photos. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take great looking images of your family yourself. With the tips outlined below, you will have a better understanding of exactly what you need to do to get the best results to take professional-looking family photos.

How To Take Professional-Looking Family Photos:

Get Geared Up

Taking portraits of your family will be infinitely easier if you have the following gear:

  • DSLR or mirrorless camera body
  • A 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm prime lens or a 24-70 zoom lens
  • A tripod
  • A camera remote

What’s nice about the above kit is that it maximizes your ability to get high-quality, sharp photos. That’s partially due to the sensors that DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have, and also due in part to the quality of 35mm lenses, 50mm lenses, and 85mm lenses.

Lenses in this range offer excellent sharpness, large apertures for helping to blur the background of the portrait (and for taking pleasing shots in low-light situations), and provide a distortion-free view of your family, as well. A 24-70 zoom lens is nice because it offers more versatility regarding focal length for a variety of views of your loved ones. Having a tripod gives your camera a stable base, which only helps your camera and lens get the sharpest shot. And with a camera remote, you can actually be in a few photos, too!

Take Time to Plan

One of the biggest mistakes that amateur photographers make when taking portraits is neglecting the planning phase. By figuring out ahead of time where you want to take your family photos, the best time of day to take the shots (hint . . . it’s Golden Hour!), the different types of shots you want to take, how you plan to pose your family, the better your images will be.

A good exercise is to scout possible shoot locations, paying attention to how the background looks, what the light is like (and shadows, too), and how you intend to place your family in the shot. You want a background that offers interest, but isn’t too distracting, either. Come up with a list of shots you’d like to take as well. Think about whole family photos, images of your kids on their own, pictures that document your baby’s milestones, photos of you and your significant other, and so forth. Having a list like this will help you keep things moving during the photo shoot and prevent you from forgetting to take certain shots.

Test Everything Out

When the day of the photo shoot arrives, take a few test shots so you can fine-tune things like your camera settings, the focus, and the metering. Since you’ll be behind the camera at this point, get your family into position for the shot and use one of them for metering and focusing purposes so that you have a well-exposed photo and a sharply focused one at that.

Beware of the aperture you use, though! While a low f-stop (i.e., f/1.8) is great for getting nice background blur, it could give you a depth of field that’s so shallow that some people in the photo are a little blurry as well. Opt instead for something in the f/4-f/8 range to be safe.

Take a Lot of Photos

The great thing about digital photography is that you can literally take hundreds of photos in one session. The likelihood that your family will cooperate for that many shots is slim to none, but the point remains the same. You have a memory card that can hold a ton of photos, so by all means, take more photos than you think you’ll need.

Doing so will help protect against instances in which someone’s eyes are closed or when one of your kids makes a silly face. A great tip for getting more casual photos is to keep shooting, even after you’ve told your family that you’re done. With a wireless remote hidden in your pocket, you can keep firing the shutter, which might get you some fun candid shots to go with the more formally posed shots you take.

Try “Alternative” Portraits

When we think of family portraits, we tend to think of everyone carefully posed together, looking at the camera with big smiles. Those types of shots are great, but try to add some variety to your photo shoot by taking unique photos of your family, as well. Have everyone turn around so you can capture a faceless family portrait. Have your significant other hug, kiss, and love on your kids. Get in there for a fun and romantic shot with your significant other. Capture a photo of you kissing, holding hands, or simply looking lovingly at one another.

Make It Fun

Perhaps the best thing you can do to get better portraits of your family is to make the photo shoot something that’s fun, rather than something everyone is forced to struggle through. Bring treats for your kids to reward them for getting out of their shell, or conversely, for sitting still for the photos. Bring a few fun props like toys, flowers, a beach ball, or even your dog to include in some of your photos. Encourage laughter and silliness, particularly for photos of your kids on their own. Simple tricks like this can make for a much more productive (and bearable!) photo shoot.

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  • Author

Alex Schult, a U.S. Army veteran, is the founder of PhotographyTalk. They have helped millions of photographers develop their photography skills to take better photos. With thousands of educational lessons,… Read more

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