Holidays and family get-togethers are often the best times to take a family picture. Taking the picture shouldn't be an onerous task, but rather, part of the fun. Planning your photo a few minutes before gathering everyone together is essential to keeping the mood light and carefree. If you plan to be in the photo yourself, set up the tripod first and make sure you know exactly how the timer on your camera works before it's time to pose.
Frame Your Background First
Before having everyone get together for the photo, select an appropriate background. Look through the viewfinder to see what will be in the photo. Move anything that you don't want in the shot or adjust where you are standing with the camera. Parked cars, garbage cans and telephone wires often distract from an outdoor photo. When taking an indoor photo, look for anything with glass that can reflect the camera's flash, such as framed photos, mirrors and windows.
Keep it Short, Fun and Natural
There is no reason why a family photo should take more than five or ten minutes at most, especially when young children are involved. Joke around and keep the atmosphere relaxed. A spontaneous belly laugh can make a better photo than a stiff, unnatural smile. For some candid photos, snap a few pictures while everyone is getting ready and still fixing their ties and adjusting their dresses. Try working with what you have, rather than trying to make the shot perfect. For example, if there is an infant in the photo who just won't stop crying, consider taking a few shots while the family tries to distract the baby. You may get that perfect photo a few minutes later, but you may later prefer the shots where everyone is making faces or guffawing.
Bring Everyone Together
Unless you're documenting a family feud, space between people seldom translates well in a photograph. Bring everyone as close together in the photo as possible. Have them put their arms around each other to emphasize the emotional closeness. Ask adults to hold children in their arms or on their laps so that you don't have a lot of vertical space between faces. While they are getting in position, ask about favorite family moments to stir up warm memories that will be reflected in their eyes and in their smiles.
Take a look at some of your favorite photos you've taken in the past or photos taken by friends. Note that they often use angles other than straight-on and directly in front of the subjects. Try crouching down to chest level if everyone is standing, or crouching to your knees if they are seated. If there are only a few people in the photo, try shifting to the left or right so they are not directly in the middle of the frame, especially if you have found a beautiful background. If the background isn't important, move in as close as possible to fill the photo with their faces. Grass or carpet in the foreground or an empty sky in the background is usually just wasted space.
Photo Credits: Heidi Monner/Demand Media
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