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Looking Room | Family Photography Hints Tips and Advice

In a previous post in this series on improving your family photography, I discussed the Rule of Thirds and how it was useful to think about where in the overall frame you are going to position your subject or subjects. Today, we’ll be looking at another aspect of positioning within a frame: creating Looking Room.

Which of these three shots feels better to you:

Family Photography

Shot A








Family Photography Shot B








Family Photography  Shot C






For most people, the answer would be Shot C. Let me explain why.

When we are looking or moving around we are more aware of what is in front of us than what is behind us – or even to the side.

We are also concerned about this for other people – how many times have you told a child to “Look where you are going” even though they are walking through an empty park? I certainly have – all the time, it seems! We do it because we feel uncomfortable about possible consequences.

When viewing photography, we get a similar feeling on behalf of the subject – we want them to be able to “see” where they are going. In photography this is referred to as Looking Room.

In Shot A above, Gemma has no looking room and we feel uncomfortable about the shot for this reason. In the second shot, she is centred and so we feel better. But look at it again – does it “feel” to you that there should be more room in front of her than behind?

For most people, Shot C works best. Because we know she can see where she is going, we are not feeling anxious for her and can relaxed and enjoy her exuberance. (Notice how this shot also obeys the Rule of Thirds, which helps.)

Family PhotographyA shot to prove that rain does not have to spoil a shoot. It also beautifully illustrates how important Looking Room is in close ups. Again, you will see that Maria has more space in front of her than behind. Do you agree that it just feels right?





A few more examples, covering close up and full length shots:

Family Photography

Even though Freddie is looking into the camera lens and is not moving, we still want him to have Looking Room!






Family PhotographyThe Looking Room is on the left in this shot because that is the direction Ali’s body is facing – as with Freddie above. It’s a subtle point but important.





Now it’s your turn:

Grab your camera and a willing subject.

Start by taking close-ups and experiment placing your subject’s head to both break and obey this rule. Can you see and feel the difference?

Then, ask them to walk for you and do the same thing. Make sure you also incorporate the Rule of Thirds.

Do you feel an improvement? Would you use this in some of your family photography? Do let me know what you think.

And, most of all, enjoy yourself . . .


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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