Guest Post: The Do’s and Don’ts of Family Portraits by Cait

You guys know I love taking pictures of my family. Today, I’m hosting Cait from Cait’s Cozy Corner and she’s got some great tips for taking family portraits. She also has a great recommendation for a local photographer right here in Atlanta!

 

Do's and Don'ts of Family Portraits | sunshineandholly.com

As a kid, I hated taking family photos. I know, starting this post off pretty strong right? But of course, being little I just wanted to play and be with my friends. Looking back at all the milestones with our family photos, I’m so happy my family choose to take them years later. To see how my sister and I have grown and how our family unit has become stronger just made me realize how much I wanted to have the same fond memories and still-frames for my own family.

As someone who loves to take photographs of  my husband, daughter and son, I’ve come to realize there are a lot of Do’s and Don’ts that come with taking and being a part of family portraits. I don’t have a lot of experience, but I’ve chatted with some experts who shared their advice on what works best and what doesn’t. Let’s dive into the Do’s section!

Do's and Don'ts of Family Portraits | sunshineandholly.com

IMAGE: Donald Chambers Photography

 

1. Squish – When working with families, the closer the better. When they are physically close, it emits warmth and shows what family life should be like – close. If some families may not seem to be that into touching hands or being a bit more physical, try even just standing them or sitting shoulder to shoulder. Have families stand at slight angles with their shoulders overlapping. Think of the age of the family as well. If older family members are present, allow them to sit in chairs.

Do's and Don'ts of Family Portraits | sunshineandholly.com

IMAGE: Donald Chambers Photography

2. Coordinate- Before you meet with your family you should guide them in a wardrobe choice. Ultimately, it is up to them and their families style to choose what they wear, but simply reminding them to possibly overlap in a color scheme and avoid extreme colors, prints and logos on their clothing can make a big difference. This will give you an easier time post-production, and you will have both options in color and in black and white. I can’t tell you how many times I look back at old photos and think why did I pick that particular print because it clashes with everything else! Think solid colors for lifetime praise.

Do's and Don'ts of Family Portraits | sunshineandholly.com
IMAGE: Donald Chambers Photography

3. Be Funny- A few cheesy jokes work surprisingly well to break the tension. A typical photographer joke might be, “Okay, I need everyone to get in focus.” Or asking everyone to strike their best glamour pose. Another way to get a smile is to get them doing something they don’t normally do. Have them try jumping, running, making human pyramids or whatever comes to mind. One friend sometimes even yells out “Everyone say POOP!” instead of cheese. That always gets a good laugh.

 

Do's and Don'ts of Family Portraits | sunshineandholly.com

IMAGE: Donald Chambers Photography

4. Blur Background– Choose the largest aperture setting you can, while still keeping everyone sharp. Shoot a few clicks smaller than the lens’s widest aperture, use the preview screen and zoom button on your camera to make sure everyone is looking good, then adjust and continue.

 

Don’ts

1. Check Basic CameraISO (go as low as possible), Image Size, Exposure Compensation, Metering, etc. It would be sad to get to the end of a great session and realize you didn’t change the low quality settings from the last time you used your camera shooting the Garbage Pail Kids you planned on selling on Ebay. Of course indoor and outdoor settings will differ, as will naturally lit and artificially lit. Just make sure to check everything before you shoot.

2. No Tilting – This is fine for your everyday shooting at the family barbecue, but not a paid photographer. Subjects tend to think they will fit into the picture better if they tilt and lower their heads. Funny thing is, I’ve even caught myself doing this when I was being photographed. Watch for it and avoid it. There is always the lovey-dovey pose where they intentionally lean heads in, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

3. Don’t Get Frustrated – Don’t say things like, “This is not working at all!” Rephrase it into a positive, “Great, let’s try a few more positions.” The more you tell them the pictures are looking great the better looking the pictures will get. Think high fashion cliches like, “Love it,”, “You’re beautiful”, “What a great one.” Your positive attitude will shine in their smiles and they’ll love your attitude towards helping them out if things can seem frustrating.

Do's and Don'ts of Family Portraits | sunshineandholly.com

IMAGE: Donald Chambers Photography

If you’re in the market for a great photographer, look no further than Donald Chambers Photography! He has over thirty years of professional photography experience. His first love is photographic portraiture. He has a passion for working with people and capturing unique and authentic moments. He enjoys working with families, couples, babies and individuals, and is renowned for his masterful lighting in the classic black and white photographs, as well as use of vibrant colors. His work is a piece of art that will last for generations to come.

 

Do you have any advice for family portraits?

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