Even as people enjoy easy accessibility to cameras, there’s nothing like a professional photographer to take a memorable family photo. Amateurs can make taking a family photo as easy as playing at an online casino in South Africa by using some tried-and-true tips and tricks to get the best shot possible.
Here are 7 Useful Tips for Taking Family Photos
1. Use a Tripod
Most people don’t carry around a tripod but if you’re planning on taking a family photo, you should make the extra effort to get one and use it. When your camera is perched securely on a tripod, the camera is steady and you have the time that you need to position everyone, review the composition, check the settings and preview the exposure to make sure that everything is just as you want it.
When you are shooting with your eye on the camera, it’s easy to get the balance wrong, have a too-high or too-low ISO or even shoot the wrong type of file. Once you take your eye away from the camera you can make eye contact with the subjects so that they interact in a more relaxed manner and are photographed looking more natural.
2. Use Manual Mode
Professional photographers almost always shoot family photos in the manual mode when there’s a shoot that is set up in advance. They do this in order to exert more control over the elements so once the scene is set up, there’s no need to change.
Setting the camera to Shutter or Aperture Priority mode means that the camera can choose a slightly different exposure for each frame, depending on the metering mode that was selected. Since consistency is vital, that’s not a good way to proceed – when exposures are inconsistent it means that you have to even out the photos in post-processing, deal with color shifts and possibly underexposed shots.
Using the manual mode throughout a shoot helps to even everything out. It’s a good idea to check the exposure any time that you chance the pose or location, adjust if needed and move forward.
To prevent the exposure from changing from one frame to the next, lock the focus. You don’t want the focus to be adjusted so if you are using a tripod, you won’t be moving and hopefully your group won’t be moving either.
If you lock the focus you won’t have a focus change from one shot to the next. You can use the “focus lock”, the “back button focus” or the “manual focus.” All of these options will keep any exposure from changing from frame to frame. You can also turn on “Live View” which allows you to see the image on your screen and then hit the “Zoom button” which zooms the image on the read LCD so you can see what is in focus and focus manually more precisely. When you’re ready to return to normal view, press the “Zoom” button again.
A bit less technical but no less important……stagger your heads by height in order to create a more dynamic and interesting image. You want to position the individuals in the group so that no one’s head is besides or directly on top of another. Heads shouldn’t be on the same level because you want to avoid creating a straight column, straight row or straight line of heads. The lines should be diagonal.
Some people can sit, some can kneel and some can stand on something so that they’re behind the center line of people.
Other things that you can do to avoid having your subjects standing stiff and rigid include having some people shift their weight to one foot, having some people turn slightly away from the camera (usually people at the ends of the rows), having some subjects put their hand in a pocket, having some people hook their fingers through a belt loop, having sitting subjects lean forward a bit, having sitting subjects cross one foot over the other (toe down), etc.
Try not to let the kids feel pressure to “perform.” For many kids, when they feel that they must meet expectations, they become wild and unmanageable. Prepare the kids by telling them that you’re going to be taking pictures and that it’s going to be fun, bring along some toys and other props and don’t sweat it if the kids don’t smile or sit still – a stony face is better than a wet, crying face.
If a sulky kid sees that everyone is having a good time, it’s likely that s/he will calm down and join in.
Pose people in a way that flatters them. That means that if someone has a double chin, use a slightly higher camera angle that captures them about eye level – when they look up their neck stretches, minimalizing the neck/chin area. If someone is a bit wide on the bottom, focus on their upper area.
Other posing tips include looking at a person’s face to figure out the best way to shoot them, having someone who is especially tall stand with their feet a bit apart so that they appear shorter, pile kids on top of a heavy person as s/he lays on the ground to make the kids closer in size and hide the bulk of the overweight individual.
Probably the most important aspect of any photo shoot is the lighting. Photographers remind you that when you take portraits, you want to get light into the subject’s eyes. To do that, keep in mind that:
1. An hour before dusk is the best time for portraits because the sun is lower in the sky so you eliminate the harsh overhead light that is present at midday. The light is a bit more diffused, especially if there’s a haze on the horizon.
2. If you’re shooting during sunlight hours, shoot in shade, making sure that there are no bright areas in the background which can draw attention away from the subjects.
3. Avoid shooting on an overcast day. When it’s overcast you get dark eyes and direct overhead lighting.
4. If you need extra light use a flash or a reflector. You can determine if there isn’t enough light on your subjects faces if you can’t see the light source reflected in their eyes.
5. Make sure that the light doesn’t come from an overhead source or directly from the camera which flattens the subject. The light should come from the side, about 30-45 degrees from the camera.
It’s not hard to take a good family photo. Don’t try to do everything at once, especially if you’re new to portrait photography. Focus on a few of the tips and then add in more as you become more proficient. In time you’ll be a star.
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