CanvasPop Blog - The world is your canvas


How to Take Great Family Photos


Photography as a form of expression has changed immensely over the years. What started as a very manual process reserved for professionals has evolved into a digital practice that can be adopted by just about anyone with a mobile phone.

Helping personality shine through the lens is one of the most exciting aspects of modern photography. Today, the trend with family photos is to capture candid shots of smiles, silly faces and natural charm; and to avoid stuffy backgrounds in favor of outdoor scenery like a forest or a beach.

Here are a few things to consider when preparing for your next family photo shoot:

Consider lighting: Natural lighting is the best way to achieve soft, balanced light. We’re not bound by physical walls and getting outside is a great way to take advantage of the lighting and colors that exist in your environment. Time your shoot during the magic hour, the hour or so just after the sun rises in the morning or before it sets in the evening.

Consider the beauty of black and white: Black and white photography can be stunning in its own right. Without the distraction of color, you’re left with the raw emotions of the photo, portrayed through the lines created by shadows and lighting. Consider shooting in RAW, if your camera has that option, to afford you the most control over your images in post production. If you can’t (or don’t want to) shoot in RAW, you can easily shoot in color and later convert your images to black and white.

Consider other backgrounds: Even an old door or a piece of plywood, or a fireplace mantle can provide the perfect indoor setting for capturing great family moments.

Consider time: Family photography requires a bit of time and patience from all parties involved. The photographer, the parents, the kids, the pets, and sometimes even neighbors will need to be called upon. No longer do we take one photo and call it a day. Instead we take many, sometimes hundreds of photos in order to capture the one that will last. During the family photo session, we use time to our advantage. We laugh, we get in silly poses, we create images that may never be printed.

Consider positions: In large families, you will likely need to stagger standing with sitting to ensure that everyone is seen. Instead of thinking bleachers, use a natural scene such as a park bench, fence or stairs leading up to a front porch. This helps you avoid a boring straight line or row of heads. Set the oldest family members in the middle (sitting if possible) and have the younger generations gather around them.  The idea is to get the whole family gathered, not scattered. Consider also getting family members to sit in different positions like with a bent knee, hand in pocket, or weight shifted to one foot, so that no one appears too rigid.