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10 tips for photographing your family



10 tips for photographing your family


Helen Bartlett is one of the UK’s most respected family portrait photographers. For her work she uses only natural light and no flash. Helen does all her work in black and white to create timeless family photographs.

We have asked her to share some of the secrets she has learned during her long and prestigious career. Find out how to create beautiful images of your family over the holidays and throughout the rest of the year.

1. Keep your camera in your hand, not your phone.

The first step to taking good pictures is to always have your camera with you. These days, smartphones allow you to take good pictures, but a good camera will give you much more control over your images. The other drawback of phones is that it’s easy to be distracted by e-mails or work. An SLR or a good compact camera allows you to concentrate on your pictures. Most cameras produce higher quality files, which is really important if you want to print your photos. I recommend that you keep your camera in your bag or on the kitchen table so it’s always handy when you want it. »

2. Photograph your family’s Christmas

On Christmas Day, it’s really nice to photograph the little habits of the family. For example, if everyone opens their presents in bed, keep your camera handy to photograph the fun on all the faces (or the slight disappointment if they got the wrong present!). If the weather is good, go outside: children are often more natural there. Why not go for a family walk with the new toys? It is in these situations that you will find the best opportunities to photograph your family in the most natural way. »

3. Start early

I tend to start taking pictures at 8:00 in the morning. Children are in better shape in the early morning, when they are well rested and have had a good breakfast. As the day progresses, the children get tired, bicker over toys and the complicity breaks down. Try to take all the formal or group photos at the beginning of the day. That way, the rest of the time you can all relax and get natural, fun images without worrying about getting a smile from the little one for the photo. Think about the children’s schedule to increase your chances of getting good pictures. Take lots of pictures, take them every day and at the end of the holidays you can create a book of your family’s adventures that you can look back on with pleasure. »

4. Don’t forget to participate

In many families, there is always one person behind the camera; when I was little, it was my father. Remember to rotate the camera so that all family members appear in the pictures. These pictures will be important for your children when they grow up. To take a picture of the whole family, put the camera on a tripod (or place it in a stable place like a table or park bench) and use the self-timer. For a different and fun perspective, why not offer the camera to your children and have them take pictures of you? This way they can begin to take an interest in photography. »

Read More : Photographing a baby: 12 photography tips to use today

5. Focus on everyday life

It’s a long time ago when you only brought your camera for special occasions and holidays. Today, we can get many more photos of everyday activities. Photograph the way your family gathers on the couch at the end of a long day. Take the joyful look of your children jumping into bed, fresh and ready to play from 5am. Move into the background and use a larger lens or your camera’s zoom lens to take pictures of the children playing so you can get some really natural, pretty pictures. »

6. Use the place to tell a story

Try to capture elements of narrative in some of your images. It’s great to get a perfect portrait, but a wider viewing angle can also provide a very satisfying result. Photograph your child in his or her room with toys. Give a scale to the image of your children playing in the park or local woods by taking a vertical picture that shows the height of the trees. Use your environment creatively, looking for shapes and shadows, reflections and framing elements to add something special to your pictures. »

    Children are at their best first thing in the morning, when they’re well rested and have had a good breakfast.

7. Look for interesting compositions and angles

Sometimes you can capture someone’s spirit without showing their face. Special angles and points of view can really make for interesting photos. For example, take a picture of the details of your baby’s tiny hands, or the fact that your baby insists on wearing his rubber boots the wrong way around. Try out some effects with the camera settings. Use a high shutter speed to capture every detail of movement. Show your child’s intense activity with a blur by setting the shutter speed to the lowest setting and using a tripod to stabilize the camera your child will run past. Feel free to increase the ISO sensitivity when shooting indoors. I never use a flash. I prefer to use the available light so that my pictures are more natural. Try to take black and white images that will have a timeless touch and should be enjoyed by generations to come. »

8. Put yourself on their level

Get down to children’s eye level to appreciate the world from their point of view. Try sitting or lying on the floor. This approach can also reduce background clutter and distractions in the picture. You can often fill the background with the sky, trees or walls rather than the entire contents of the toy box scattered at your feet… although it can also be fun to take a happy child surrounded by the clutter they’ve put up. »

9. Print your photos

Don’t forget to print your photos, either from your personal printer or by having them printed online or in a store. You can even get mugs, posters, etc. customized with your photos. That way you can enjoy them every day. Paper prints can be preserved and kept safe. They won’t get lost on a computer or memory card. »

10. Have fun

Your children will be more likely to participate if they like having their pictures taken. Don’t expect too much from them, especially when they are tired, and don’t involve them in the whole process. Take pictures of their favourite objects, their stuffed animals, drawings they have just painted. Play games, sing songs, climb trees. Take advantage of Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions to really take them when they are most outgoing! »

Remember, there’s nothing more fun than taking pictures of your family. I hope these tips will encourage you to take your camera out more often over the holidays and take pictures you’ll cherish for years to come.