Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How to Take Great Photos of Your Family

There are some of us who are lucky enough to take photos for a living.  For the last year I have been one of these lucky people.  I still have to pinch myself actually.  But for many more of us we have no desire to turn our photos into something that is hopefully going to pay the bills, but rather cameras are used to record precious moments of our families.  Now, I actually start to think of these people as the lucky ones...those who have time to pull out their cameras for these special times, rather than having to pull it out ALL the time and try and get the perfect shot for work.  Strangely, despite being a photographer, I have no photos of my children on the walls!

Anyway, today for my Tips Tuesday I thought I would focus on taking photos of your loved ones, and how to make them a little better.  It doesn't take great technical skill, just a little forethought, and a considerable amount of stalking!
This is my son Jesse.  I actually had planned to get photos of my children on this particular day...as you might notice he has a clean face, for a change, and his hair has been 'styled'.  As well as trying to tidy your children up (!) think about what is in the background.  To really make my son stand out in his stripy shirt I have caught him in front of a background that is not plain, but being all the one colour, he stands out.  Paying attention to what is behind the subject can really help make for a better photo.  He's not smiling here but that doesn't matter.  I really like this shot.
A similar background here for my other son Austen, except this time I have snapped him at a different angle.  I didn't ask him to pose, he was busy cloud watching and rolling down a little hill in the playground, so probably another lucky photo on my part, but it really works.  Remember, you don't always have to get 'straight on, standing up and smiling' photos of your kids!
I love this one of my boys together.  I didn't set this up either.  Patience is key when you are taking photos of children.  Wait.  Watch.  You will be rewarded.
This is my husband.  He HATES having his photo taken.  I, on the other hand, like taking photos of him, so will get a sneaky shot in here and there because one day when we are old and grey I want to have something to look back on.  Of course...we all do.  I find with camera shy people it is great to get a sneaky shot when they are doing something they either enjoy, (ok...so my husband doesn't actually enjoy shearing!)...or doing something that typifies who they are.  My husband is a shearer, it's actually not a hugely common profession any more, I'm proud of him and THIS is him.  Shearing is part of who he is.  So take some shots of your partner doing their everyday thing.  Not only are they great to look back on but you will catch them being themselves in their everyday environment.
I actually just had this photo printed today, something that is really rare for me to do I'm afraid to say.  I need to do it more.  Anyway, I've left it with my Dad to frame (he's so conveniently a picture framer!)  I adore this shot.  It was one of the photos from one of my outfit posts and this is my little girl.  She was just running about doing her own thing and I love the movement in it.  It's just one of those perfect natural shots.  To me this is what photography of people is all about.  Particularly children.  Not posed shots.  There is life in this photo.  Try and capture the life.  Take your kids somewhere fun, like the park for example, and just start snapping away.
There is nothing wrong with taking photos without smiley faces in them.  You don't even have to have them facing the camera.  This is my eldest son Ethan with his little sister.  There is a 10 year age difference.  It's not a perfect shot in terms of pretty backgrounds or fancy perfect clothes, it was just one of those 'opportunity shots' but I love it.  It will be one to look back on when he is a grumpy teenager and she is his 'annoying younger sister'!
Kids sports are great places for photos.  They might not be pretty, they will probably be covered in mud and pulling funny faces of exertion, but they really put you in the moment.  Just make sure you have your camera shutter speed set to a higher speed.
As well as your shutter speed sometimes you need to adjust yourself.  Get down on the same level as your kids so your photos are not always angled down as you stand above them.  I would have not been able to see my son's face or expression of concentration if I had just shot this from above.  An all round better photo.
Another 'behind' photo, my son Jesse with his older cousins, which will be great to look back on when he is older because no doubt he will be the one towering over the girls!  Remember to quickly think about where the light is coming from.  I wasn't shooting directly into the sun here, but it really works because the elongated shadows give a great sense of not only the time of day, but seem to connect them all.  I don't know...it just works.  I managed to step to one side with this one and avoid shooting directly into the light, and avoid any sun glare.
Now, for that husband who doesn't like having his photo taken.....
Make sure you get a photo of him standing on his ute, holding a lizard while talking on the phone...
Have him sharing a moment....and his cup of tea....with his horse....
Make sure you get him on his horse....he'll like that...
....although you'd better make it an action shot....he'll like that even better!
And as for yourself.....well...if you're anything like me you seem to be strangely absent from EVERY family function because you're always the one behind the camera, but having a tripod and a remote is really handy.  Remember to get some shots of yourself (either a selfie or too!!) or hand your camera to someone else!
This is me, quite a while ago, with two kelpie pups.  This wasn't set up this shot, and my son took it.

My son also took this shot, but it was obviously posed.  If you miss out on having photos taken of yourself, because you're always the one behind the camera, then go out of your way to get in front of it.  Set up a shot like this (ok, maybe minus the cows), and pretend you're in a fashion shoot for a magazine....it's so much fun!!  And you can create something really magical!


  1. I loved this post, it has some great reference photos from you, too! I agree that getting people candidly makes a great photograph and is really what it's all about! I also like you're idea of getting in front of the camera pretending it's a magazine photo shoot. I'm all about the selfie, but I never take full body or fashion shots because I'm the one behind the camera. I'll have to set something up soon.. Hopefully.. haha!

    Much Love and thanks for sharing your tips!!
    -Stephanie Eva

    1. You should totally try the 'fashion shoot' idea. It's heaps of fun...albeit time consuming...but don't worry about that! You'll have a ball!

  2. Just inspired me to go print off some pictures, have so many hidden away on my computer seems a shame.
    I haven't owned a camera for years sadly! but I'm hoping to invest in one soon, and will be putting some of these tips into action :)


    1. I'm the same! I have tonnes on the computer and hardly ever print any.

  3. How cute are your kids! That one with your boys at the drinking foundation is so precious. Definitely a framer. (: Some of my favorite photos are "behind" photos where the person doesn't know I'm taking the photo. I can see why you were lucky enough to come into this professionally.

    Btw I just received the post card I originally sent you back with like a hundred red marks on it. After scratching my head for an hour I pulled our emails that read your address and there was an error on my part that forced it to be returned. I don't know what they did to that post card, but it's destroyed. So here comes attempt number two, this time with the correct address! (;

    1. My kids have their moments! I liked the drinking fountain photo too. That's funny about the postcard! No worries at all. I get confused about overseas addresses, they are always so different from the way you do them at home! I'll be looking out for the postman!