I have compiled a few tips on how to take better family photos on your next special event or vacation. Being a professional photographer, I used to be a SLAVE to my camera over vacation…I felt like it was my duty. Thankfully I have learned that quality is way better than quantity. I spend more time interacting with my family and less time behind the lens (and they are thankful and less aggravated as well!)
1. Capture the Moments: Most of us have gotten into the habit, at one time or another, of ONLY getting posed shots by the Christmas tree, in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disney or beside the Washington Monument. While there IS certainly a place for those in your photographic history, those images generally do not evoke the emotion nor do they conjure up the memories from that particular trip or event. The images that capture our imaginations, the ones that will stick you as a warm embrace are never – yep, never the ones of everyone lined up and posed. They’re moments – individual, natural moments. They are also the ones that your family doesn’t grunt and groan over having to “line up AGAIN!” Looks for the moments that will tell the story of your trip…the things that you will look back on and say “Awwwe, remember when you….”
2. Walking Away: Yes, you read that right. An image I love is the one of someone walking away. This moment will come back to you time and again. The example I am using here is one of my nieces at the beach in the fall. Notice the relationship of the older niece teaching her younger sister and their contrasting sizes. This image is priceless to me.
3. Use Props to tell your story: In this image, my son was taking his first surfing lesson. He was 8 years old. I had the instructor hide behind the surf board to hold it up for us so I could show the size comparison. He is sporting the “hang loose” sign that is popular with surfers.
4. Full Sun Lighting: The toughest situation for taking family vacation photos must certainly be on the beach in bright sun! Obviously the best beach pictures are taken early in the morning or later in the day around sunset or in the shade. Although we all know that 90% of our time at the beach is spent in the bright midday sun. When you aren’t in optimal lighting, the best way to remedy this situation is to keep the subjects back to the sun (no squinting) and pop up your flash. Most consumer cameras will automatically adjust for having the flash on during the day and the extra light will prevent the harsh shadows on your subjects face.
5. Change Your Perspective: Get down on your 2 year olds level, shoot a pic of all their tiny sandy feet after they write their names in the sand in front of them, tilt the angle of your camera, the possibilities are endless. With todays digital cameras, you CAN’T make a mistake and you wont waste film…just delete and try again! Just make sure to invest in a large memory card!
6. Refer to #1: Tip number 1 on this post is worth repeating. If you capture the moments rather than a posed portrait, you will be forever thrilled with the memories you have captured! Good luck and have a GREAT VACATION!!