How to take good photos of your family – 3

Posed or natural? My aim is to capture real moments, whether they’ve been posed or not. I love to get shots of people when they forget that I’m there, a lot of the time when people realise there’s a camera on them they stiffen up, smile awkwardly or can’t keep their eyes away from the camera. So when I’m taking photos at home I try to take them from a distance so they don’t realise I’m there. In this case I just want to capture how they’re playing together and the interactions they’re having using a documentary style of shooting. They play while I concentrate on angles & framing the shots.

When I want to control the environment a little bit more and get more of a portrait feel, then I’ll decide on a background (the less distracting the better), style the shoot (clothes props etc) and interact with the subject to get them looking towards the camera. When looking for a plain background then you can use something like a neutral wall or wardrobe, just be careful of mirrors or shiny surfaces as you may end up in your photo without wanting to be. For babies a plain surface like a bed, sofa or blankets on the floor will work, but be careful of them rolling, always make sure they are safe and can’t fall.

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How to take good photos of your family – 2

Light is so important when taking a photo. I try to use natural light, when I can. When you’re taking photos inside make use of any window light that you have, but make sure the sun isn’t directly shining through the window as that can cause a rather harsh light. Then notice the direction of the light falling onto the subject, is it behind, in front or coming from the side. I mainly like the light coming at my subject slightly from the side so it creates a mixture of light and shadows, but it’s fun to try if from different angles as it can change a scene dramatically. Have a play around and find out which you prefer.

Sometimes when it’s quite dull outside, then extra lighting is needed. You could use a torch, phone light or lamp, but don’t point it directly into the persons face. You can have it coming from slightly to the side of you or you could try bouncing the light, which means angling the light source at a white or light neutral surface, like a ceiling or wall, so that the light bounces off the surface and creates a much softer light.

There are many different ways to use light, some ways create a natural look and some more dramatic, you can have a play around and see which you prefer. Photography is creative and there is no one size fits all approach to how a photograph should look. It’s all about finding your style and what you are happy with.