HOW TO... Family portrait ideas for people who don’t shoot portraits

Family portrait ideas for people who don't shoot portraits
Tutorial

If you’re the photographer in the family then your services are likely to be called upon to get a few shots of everyone over the festive period. But if you don’t normally shoot portraits you might find your self a bit stumped for ideas. Don’t worry, we’ve got a few that will help out.

Family portrait ideas: 01 Go for a walk

Rather than have to worry about low light levels or using flash because you’re shooting indoors, head outside and use natural light.

The soft light of an overcast sky is perfect for portraits because there are no harsh shadows to worry about and a family walk is the perfect opportunity to get a few shots.

Woodlands make great locations because the pathway pulls everyone together and draws the viewer’s eye into the photograph, while trees and foliage make and attractive background. You could even shoot through a gap in the trees or branches to create a frame.

If you’re shooting in a more urban area, try getting the kids to pull some gangsta style poses in front of some graffiti or maybe just catch them swinging around a lamppost.

Old brick walls can also make great backgrounds while tunnel entrances and doorways can be a superb way of framing a portrait.

Family portrait ideas: 02 Head to the park

Family portraits are much nicer if they are relaxed and informal rather than stiff and over-thought, so a park is a great place to photograph children.

It’s usually a good idea to let them run off some steam before you start shooting, so leave your camera alone until they’ve calmed down a bit.

Seesaws area ideal for a fun shot of everyone in a line and it’s movement will cause a few laughs and add some animation to your images. Swings also work well with some in the seats and others pushing.

Don’t forget to take a tripod so that you can run into the shots, and if possible use a wireless remote release so you can shoot at will from within the scene.

SEE MORE: 25 portrait photography tips for stunning pictures of people

Family portrait ideas: 02 Head to the park

Family portrait ideas: 03 Eat some ice-cream

All kids like ice-cream and it seems an especially decadent treat during the winter. Go large for extra impact and wide smiles.

Look for candid moments when someone tries to lick someone else’s ice-cream or the youngest member of the family is having their face wiped.

Family portrait ideas: 04 Fancy dress

Fancy dress is a great way of helping people lose their inhibitions in front of the camera and it can be enormous fun. Decide a theme and let extended family know in advance what it is so that they can prepare.

Children will get into it really quickly and enjoy posing in-character, but adults may need a little encouragement.

Have a few spare items in case anyone fails to get organised and get shots of any undressed-up stick-in-the-muds surrounded by the most enthusiastic participants.

Family portrait ideas: 05 Find some frames

We often talk about creating a frame within images so why not take it to the logical conclusion and get hold of some old picture frames, the bigger and more elaborate the better.

Ask everyone involved to hold a frame (with any glass removed) and look through it towards the camera.

SEE MORE: Best camera settings for window-light portraits

Family portrait ideas: 06 Jump on the bed

Kids love being asked to do something that they shouldn’t, so a photoshoot with them jumping up and down on a bad is an ideal opportunity to capture gleeful faces.

Parents can also join in, but jump with exaggerated enthusiasm rather than real gusto to avoid lasting damage!

Once everyone is tired from bouncing around, try lining everyone up on the bed for a more relaxed shot or two.

Family portrait ideas: 07 Pillow fight

Pillow fights and jumping on the bed go hand-in-hand and they can make great photoshoots. Use the lightest pillows that you can find and let the mayhem begin.

Step back to get everyone in to capture the whole battle and zoom-in close to get the head-to-head duels as well as individual expressions.

SEE MORE: 22 newborn photography tips every parent should live by

Family portrait ideas: 08 Hit the sofa

Family portrait ideas: 08 Hit the sofa

The livingroom sofa is a logical venue for a family portrait session, but don’t go for a stiff arrangement with everyone squeezed on and sat bolt-upright.

Try capturing people in relaxed grouping and as they usually sit on the sofa watching television.

You could even try asking everyone to look at the camera as if it is the TV when their favourite or most hated TV show is on and act out a big remote control battle. Ask for lots of arm waving, exaggerated expressions and shouting.

Family portrait ideas: 09 Set-up a photobooth

Photobooths are great fun at parties and they’re a good way of getting a few shots of people under their own steam.

You just need to set up your camera on a tripod with the correct settings already selected and leave a nice collection of props – false moustaches, silly hats, wigs and masks all work well.

If you can, make sure everyone knows how to fire the shutter and leave them to it, but otherwise be on hand to take the shots once everyone is ready.

Family portrait ideas: 10 Eat dinner

Even the most unwilling subject is usually happy to have the odd shot taken of them once they’ve relaxed with a good dinner and a couple of drinks.

Set your camera up and then pass it round getting everyone to take a few shots of whoever is sat opposite them.

Being in control of the camera for a few moments often makes people much more relaxed about having shots of themselves taken.

Ideally you’ll want to use your normal camera, but it can work well if you use a simple point-and-shoot model that people find easier to hold and operate.

An instant camera such as a Fuji Instax Mini can also be fun as people love seeing the prints appear.

You could even try asking people to pose with their instant print while you shoot them with your normal camera.

Also try mounting your camera on a mini-tripod in the centre of the table during dinner and taking a few shots every now and again using a remote release or the self-timer.

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