Family Portrait Ideas

Resolve To Take Memorable Photos
This Spring and Summer!

Take advantage of any family gatherings this Spring and Summer using these family portrait ideas. The camera you may have gotten last Christmas needs to be taken out of the drawer a bit more to capture some great moments.

Get ready....get set.......

Charge your battery and make sure you have sufficient space on your memory card. (Tip: If giving a camera for a gift, open the box up, keep the receipt, and charge the battery. You may consider adding a larger memory card than the one it came with so your recipient can enjoy their gift right out of the wrapping paper!)

Review a few important features of your camera. Most cameras have a "continuous shot" or multiple shot feature which allows you to hold down the shutter and take rapid fire photos. Perfect for when a child rips into birthday packages and gifts. Press down the shutter as soon as you hear any paper tear. If you have time to say "oh, look, that would make a great shot," you will have missed it. Try taking photos without stopping to review each one right it later so you don't miss the next great shot.

Put your smart phone, tablet or iPhone to work with the SnapShotz Photography Board Game. Add some of your favorite Photo Booth type props and have some fun around a table taking photos!

Olson Family 1964

Do some test shots BEFORE your little subjects are in place. Are you on a beach? Is the porch shaded? Are you looking forward to capturing a dive off the diving board and not aware that the sun is right behind your shot?

Make sure to learn how your camera uses "fill flash" or keeps your flash ON even in the daylight. That will reduce the camera's tendency to want to darken your subjects' faces due to the bright background in the rest of the photo area.

When you gather groups together, you will have less than 2 minutes of cooperation, if any, and you will be more confident and in control of the photo if you have taken some test shots with no one in them beforehand. (Sounds silly but try it).

Get your photography props or toys and your craziest relative over your shoulder to help grab the attention of all of your subjects. Thanks to digital technology, it won't take three rolls of film and weeks to develop to finally get two or more siblings to look forward toward you at the same time when you take family portraits. (Like my family did in that photo.) Pick the best toy and hide the rest since any others thrown off to the side will be an unintended distraction.

A great way to get everyone looking at your camera together at a photo "session" is to try out a birdie from Smile For Me Toys. But only put a birdie on your camera if you want somebody to look at it.

Set Up Some Fun Shots

You can't go wrong with kids having a good time at the local park, playing on any jungle gym, swinging on swings, turning them lose through a fast food play area or getting out some chalk and have them drawing on the sidewalk.

Get the birthday party guests, relatives and children to interact. Hand your child the candles to give out to friends, capture them passing out cookies to the adults, or recruit Grandpa to assist in making a wish prior to blowing out the candles and with the right angle, it will be priceless.

In family photo shoots coordinate, but don't match clothing. Color can dominate the photo and your subjects will be lost a bit. (Has anyone ever paid attention to the Von Trapp Family faces when they were all dressed in green curtains in the Sound of Music?)

Simplify the background. Chair arms and dining room legs in the background definitely add more to your photos than what you need in a family portrait.

Tall in back, short in front? Not always the case, maybe the tallest person might need to sit in a chair while the others gather around. Picture their faces as basketballs and group them as close together as they can be.

Stick a row of faces on the edge of a pool or over a short fence or on a jungle gym rail for a portrait twist, which reminds me...

My number one family portrait tip is to get closer than you think. If you think you are close enough, get a step closer or zoom in even more. Fill the frame with eyes and smiles and you will be rushing to frame the results!

Be Creative

Family portraits can be intermixed with other shots taken on the same day of the birthday party or other special occasion so they aren't the "same 'ol same 'ol".

  • Don't let all your decorations fade from your memory. The banners, the gifts on the floor, and the cake before little fingers poked into it. (Heck, put your camera on "Macro" and take a close up of a palm print if it's there!)
  • Is a special photo board on display? Take a photo of the photo board of special anniversary or birthday parties. It can serve as a "back-up" in case it is ever needed and an easy way to pass on the old photos to the next generation.
  • Take a photo of the banquet table guests (they are already looking forward for you) or one down the serving line or greeting line after you get their attention. Your guest of honor will like to reflect back on those shots and you will help them to recall who was there at their party. Most importantly, take the extra time to say "hey, look over here", zoom in, and concentrate a bit on what you are doing. (It is too easy to just point the camera toward a table and think you did you obligatory duty with the camera.)
  • Take a picture of your child while napping , getting ready and any preparations for the big hour or showing the aftermath mess of a busy day will help your photos capture the memory of the day more completely.
  • Portrait participants under 3 feet tall?? Get down to their level! Be sure to get down on one knee or sit in a chair because you'll love the results if you haven't tried this tip before.
  • Get a favorite toy or two out before a session and be ready to help grab some attention. Try taking a photo of the toy by itself. It will disappear in storage or be thrown out someday and certainly will not make the cut in their college dorm room move. Your adult child will love that you cared about their world and saved a special memory.
  • Take a family portrait each reunion on the same steps or against the same fence for an interesting collage one day. (You might have to stick to just core family to avoid the unfortunate changing of the guard at times if you know what I mean.)
  • Do NOT over do it. Curb your enthusiasm because parties and gatherings have a certain flow and you do not want to keep putting on the brakes on the fun or be the person others avoid when your camera is out.
  • In conclusion, consider your "rapid" shot or "burst" feature, get your flash on in the daytime, watch your background, get in close, think creatively with family portrait ideas. Don't be shy and you'll take some shots that capture a moment in time that your photos will have captured for years to come.

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    Copyright 2015 Carl Olson