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Expressing Relationships Part 1 | Family Photography Hints Tips and Advice

You can think of your family photography and why you do it in several ways. For some, it is a record of the family as they grow – this is to a large extent the purpose of the School Photograph – and is primarily about head and shoulder shots. For others, it is a way to document events and activities and serves as a memory jogger for that event. Finally, there is the fascination of the relationships in a family. In practice, our family photography tends to be a combination of them three.

In this post, I am going to explore capturing relationships in your photography. This could simply be a shot that reminds you of a relationship but much better if the shot itself shows how they feel about each other. These latter shots are the ones that will resonate most with friends and work colleagues because you don’t need to know the subjects to be able to see something of their relationship.

(Hint: You will know when you have succeeded because people will stop referring to your photographs with words like Nice and Good and instead will use more emotive words like Lovely and Wonderful.)

Family PhotographyLet’s start with this shot of a mother and daughter. They look relaxed and comfortable, the daughter has her head on the mother’s shoulder (implying closeness) and they are both engaged with the camera.

Yet, for me, this falls into the category of Nice because although it’s very, um, nice  – and it is certainly better than a simple record shot – it does not have too much to tell us about their relationship.


Family photographyCompare with this shot of mother and son. I had set up the shot as a relaxed portrait – and we did take a number of shots with them both looking to camera – but this is my favourite as it captures a moment in their relationship. This is a lovely shot.


family photographyIt is very easy to become hung on on the technical quality of a shot – often to the point of rejecting it  – without taking into consideration the emotion portrayed. Look at this image from a pre-wedding shoot. Purists might not have considered this shot as the man, in particular, is slightly blurred. For me, though, this is a wonderful shot because I can see how they are together, see how happy they are, see how relaxed they are with each other and see the love between them.

The next post will concentrate on how you can start to create images like these.


This post is a one in a series on Family Photography hints, tips and advice that I will be posting in the run up to Christmas. Please add a comment here or on my Facebook page if there is any aspect of your photography you’d like some help with.

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