As an artist, I must confess that I am fond of family portraits as a reminder of good memories. I have lots of them on my walls as canvas prints and many of them languish at the bottom of hard drives all over the place.
The funniest part is, I don’t know why I chose certain portraits to display and not others. And here’s the thing, I could maybe get away with showing all of them if I could find bespoke frames in London, or elsewhere, for each that would offset the quality of the picture. My photography wasn’t that creative anyway so not all the pictures were perfect. But I wanted to take good pictures too.
So, going back to the portraits I stuffed away, I came to realize there is more to family portraits than just a get-together picture. They should involve some creativity, artistic postures, and last but not least fun. To get the picture of what I am referring to, let’s take a look at some of the top best tips for coming up with the best family portraits.
Image credit: http://www.thecanvasfactory.com.au/
1. AVOID HEADS IN A STRAIGHT LINE
Unless the family is parading for some food or check-ups, the faces should not be directly in a straight line either horizontal or vertical. Zigzag or diagonal arrangement is quite good and much better to look at. You can tell some of them to stand and others to sit or squat. What we are trying to avoid here is outdated, less interesting style we see in old, black and white pictures taken some 2o years ago.
2. LET THE KIDS HAVE FUN
Kids should be kids in the portrait don’t force them to behave like scouts. Let them come with their toys, have a posture they like for the photograph and last but not least have fun. If you try to control them, there are chances that what you expected as an outcome may fail.
You are taking pictures and your main target is to capture every feature and so you need light. The light should not be brighter or dimmer. It should be average and the best time to do this is some time in the evening when the sun is about to go down or if you are doing it indoors or at night, the place should have some light.
4. INVOLVE SOME EXPRESSIONS
They should not just sit there or stand there as if taking some passport photo. It should be more fun to look at. The portrait will be more interesting if each family member involves a different expression. They can make funny faces, they can smile or show some gestures with some meaning, for example, a two finger peace sign.
5. SHOW SOME RELATIONSHIPS
This is a family portrait not just some picture of soldiers or crime suspects taken by a mistake. There should be some relationship in it. More of hugging and embracing or playing with each other. What we are trying to come up with here is a picture showing how the family cares and love each other.
6. THE MAIN FOCUS SHOULD COVER MOST PARTS OF THE FRAME
The family isn’t trying to run away or to avoid the camera. The Camera should be focussed on the family, not anything besides or behind them. What we are trying to avoid is a chance of missing the most important parts of the picture. To ensure this doesn’t happen try to position in such a way that the main focus is in the middle.
7. EVERYONE SHOULD LOOK COMFORTABLE
Each of the family members should position him/herself in a way that he/she is comfortable. If they can’t stand straight they can sit or squat and if they must stand, they should not force a posture, it may result into something else. The picture should look as natural as possible to make it interesting and worth looking.
8. A LITTLE SMILE MIGHT JUST KILL IT
Most of the time especially kids having no idea of what might be going on are left wondering. Some of the family members might look so serious to even afford a cheap smile. This would be the worst time to take the short. As a photographer, you should tell encourage them to smile or do something funny to make them smile.
9. ENSURE THE FOCUS IS LOCKED
If the family is arranged and ready to take the picture, lock the focus. This is to avoid focus changing from frame to frame. To be able to do this successfully, ensure that the family remains in a static position. The locked focus will take care of minor movements hence prevent chances of coming up with pictures where there is more focus on other things other than the family.
10. HIDE EMBARRASSING FEATURES
Most of the people aren’t aware of how they actually look. There are those with breasts which are imbalanced, big but not uniform bottoms, very long legs and more. As a photographer, you are trying to come up with something that everyone in the picture will like. It is up to you to position them in a way that these features don’t become the main focus in the portrait.
You are a photographer and people chose you for what you are doing. Most of the advice should come from you. Be it dressing, location and more depending on what the family is looking for.