Taking those all important family photographs has become somewhat easier with our access to phones but for those times when only a camera will do we spoke to the experts at photo sharing website SmugMug who have compiled these expert tips for how to take family portrait photographs that you will want to remember...


10 ways to take the perfect family photograph

  • Alter your perspective

Some of the best portraits are the ones that break the rules. So, instead of shooting your subject at eye level, try changing the angle, either get up high and shoot down on your subject or get as close to the ground as you can and shoot up. Either way you will see your subject from a different perspective which will instantly add interest.

  • Play with eye contact

A strong gaze will give a powerful impact to your photograph and will also create a real sense of connection between the subject and those viewing. The direction of your subject’s eyes can also give character to your image. For example, you can create a little intrigue by making your subject look off camera, at something hidden from the viewer. Alternatively, you can give your subject something to look at that is inside the frame, creating a second point of interest and a relationship between it and your primary subject. This will also help create a ‘story’ within the image.

  • Look for a full range of emotions

This is a particularly good advice when taking family portraits. Do not just take pictures when a scene seems sweet. Every emotion a parent, sibling, or child display is worth capturing—fascination, tears, passion, even boredom. Interaction between family members will prompt these emotions.

  • Experiment with lighting

The power of lighting is sometimes overlooked and there are almost unlimited possibilities when it comes to using light in portraits. For instance, side-lighting can create mood, while backlighting and silhouetting your subject to hide their features can be powerful. Window light is also very beautiful for taking photos indoors, but you will need a reflector to put light back onto the shadowed side of your subject’s face. You can buy a reflector or even try making your own from a large piece of white card or a white sheet.

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  • Move your subject out of their comfort zone

Head and shoulder shots and other standard pose images can be nice but will they really make your picture stand out from the crowd? Agree with your subjects to create something special and out of the box, make them jump for instance or do something with their body that might sound silly at first but might turn out to be surprising and create a unique portrait.

  • Shoot candidly

Posed portraits can sometimes limit your creativity and also block your subject to standard expressions. Adopting a candid approach is particularly good when photographing children or really any active subject that is changing their position or pose in quick succession. Photograph your subject in a familiar space or doing something that they enjoy. This will put them more at ease, reacting naturally to the situation that they are in. Get them to have some fun and be spontaneous. The resulting photos will be full of life.

  • Use accessories

Your subject still need to be the main point of interest but byadding accessories to your shot such as a piece of jewellery, a hat or simply a beautiful textured fabric you will instantly create another point of interest that will help enhance your subject and add an extra layer of depth.

  • Play with background

Once again, the person in your portrait should be the main point of interest. However, you can dramatically alter the mood in a shot when you place your subject in different contexts. For example, choose a dramatic or colourful background, or be as minimalistic as possible and make you subject stand out. Experimenting is the key.

  • Go with a wide angle

Shooting with a wide angle lens can help produce creative and memorable portrait shots. Often overlooked as just a landscape lens, a wide focal length can open up a whole new world of opportunities and, contrary to popular belief, you can still get a flattering portrait of your subject – you just need to shoot in a slightly different way. If you are planning to take a distorted style wide angle portrait it is crucial to make the effect look as deliberate as possible, otherwise it will simply seem as if you have used the wrong lens.

  • Share your photos

What’s the point of taking stunning portraits if nobody sees them? You can share your portraits with your friends and family by using a photosharing and storage website, like SmugMug. With secure photo sharing you can create an online photo album where you can store and share all of your photographs in a simple, safe and secure place.


>> Visit www.smugmug.com for a free 14-day trial.