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Telling a Story | Family Photography Hints Tips and Advice

Whether you are going to use your family photography to create a printed album, a phone montage, a desktop slideshow, a digital picture frame show, an iPad display or something else, your images will work better if they tell a story.

It’s all too easy to take a shot or two of an event. One shot of everyone sitting down to eat, for example. Or one shot of presents being opened. We have already seen in previous posts how changing the angle a photograph is taken from can have a big impact as well as the importance of getting closer. Even if you do those two things, and obey the Rule of Thirds, you still just have one shot.

A series of shots can portray an event or activity far more comprehensively than a single image – and usually more successfully than a video of the event.

Take a look at this series of shots I took of Oscar and Lydia when we were on holiday in America last year. We (well, they, as I was obviously taking photographs) were helping prepare a meal of fresh fish and salads. Some shots are close-ups of details – such as the salads or the fish being dropped into the fryer – some are eye-level shots of intensely concentrating children, one is taken from high overhead. Each image is interesting in its own right but is there one single shot that sums up the whole event? Not really. Would a page in a family album that looked like this portray the concentration, dedication and fun of the event? I think it would. Indeed, it does in our own family photography album.

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This also makes the album more interesting for those who were not present. In this case, had I just taken one shot of everyone sitting down at the table, smiling at the camera, much would have been lost for the viewer.


Now it’s your turn:

The next time you are covering a family event, spend some time truly being the photographer and focus on coverage just as a documentary photographer would. Create a series of shots that show different views, aspects, emotions, relationships – ideally as they happen naturally.

Review your shots and ask yourself if you have captured the flavour of the event.

Did you enjoy the experience? 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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