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Expressing Relationships Part 2 | Family Photography Hints Tips and Advice

I my previous post on expressing relationships in family photography, I showed you a number of images and talked about how they showed something of the relationship between the subjects.

Today I am will be giving you some hints and guidance to help you create these sorts of shots.

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These two sisters liked to pick flowers from a spot just behind the tree on the right. I knew this would be a good setting for the shot, so I asked them to pick some flowers and then bring them out to the lawn, where I was standing. They spend a few minutes in the meadow and then emerged, deep in conversation, and I was able to take several shots – this was my favourite.

 

 

 

When children are asked to do something they want to do, they will soon become distracted by the activity and forget you are there with a camera. They will also often behave very naturally. This mood can be broken by several things, however, so avoid:

  • Using flash – it’s too intrusive
  • Directing them
  • General lack of patience on your behalf

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This lovely shot of William and his younger brother Edward was created by asking William to sit next to a tree stump and then Edward (who was not walking at the time) sat next to him (this arrangement “trapped” William and made it less likely he would move anywhere). Then, we suggested William told Edward about something he liked. As you might expect, Edward was hanging on his older brother’s every word and this beautiful level of engagement just needed photographing.

(In a later post, I will be talking about how and why I decided to use this spot when we cover settings and light.)

 

 

If you think about it, walking is just animated posing – and that makes it a good ploy for more natural shots. Children in particular love to be moving around, so take advantage of that. Find a nice setting and simply ask the subjects to walk towards you and talk to each other, encourage jokes and laughing if that’s the kind of shots you are after.  Here is a series I took a couple of years ago of my children, Oscar and Lydia – they decided to hold hands and that creates a lovely connection:

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Don’t forget to photograph them walking away as well.

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Now it’s your turn:

This is not the sort of photography you can usually just “grab” as it requires some planning. Pick a day over the Christmas holiday you are going to do a photoshoot (just an hour or two). Plan just three scenarios and how you are going to set them up and photograph them.

Do you enjoy the experience? What about the other members of the family?  Would you use this in some of your family photography? Do let me know what you think.

And, most of all, enjoy yourself . . .

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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.

If you would like an email notifying you when each one is published, just complete this form (you can unsubscribe at any time and I promise to be very, very careful with your information):

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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.

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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.

If you would like an email notifying you when each one is published, just complete this form (you can unsubscribe at any time and I promise to be very, very careful with your information):

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The Rule of Thirds | Family Photography Hints Tips and Advice

Whether a professional photographer or a snapshotter (is that a word?) doing the family photography, you need to know about the Rule of Thirds.

We are talking here about the composition of the picture within the frame of the image. How do you decide where to put the main subject? In the middle? What looks best? Why do some shots look more pleasing than others? I am about to reveal the secret.

But first, let me introduce you to Adam – he will be marrying Alex over the Christmas period – how romantic.  They will be familiar to followers of my Facebook page from a recent post.

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Take a look at this shot – Adam looks fantastic but the composition is all a bit, well, uninspiring. Despite the fact his head is positioned neatly in the centre. (If you want to know why the picture is not straight, take a look at my post on varying the angle)

 

 

 

 

family photographyHowever, if we move his head up in the frame then it starts to feel better. This is because we have reduced the amount of “head room” above his head. This area rarely has anything interesting to add to the shot.

 

 

 

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Notice how, if we draw a line across the shot at the height of his head, that line is one third of the way down the image. In part, this composition looks better because his head (the focus of the shot) is on that line.

 

 

 

family photographyLet’s add the other lines that fall on the one-third marks, horizontally and vertically. The four intersection points are important. Where you can, use them to position the part of the image (usually head or eyes) you want viewers to focus on.

 

 

 

 

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Look what happens when we position Adam on the left hand vertical.

 

 

 

 

And here is the clean, final image. Much nicer, eh? Does that image feel more pleasing to you? Now you know why.

family photographyPlease, please folks, don’t go getting out rulers and measuring the preview monitor in your shots. This is a Rule of Thumb designed to guide you and after some practice you will naturally “feel” the shot’s composition. Trust me, it will happen with perseverance.

Let me now introduce Alex who has joined Adam for this shot (she is also of Facebook post fame.) They both feature in the next shot – a much wider shot but one that still illustrates the Rule of Thirds. First just look at the shot – can you see the thirds?

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Notice how this image is build around the Rule of Thirds:

On the left vertical is the tree, on the right Alex and Adam (on the bottom right intersection). The ground/green occupies the lower third of the picture, the trees are in the centre third and the sky dominates the top third. See what I mean:

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Now it’s your turn:

Grab your camera and a willing subject, if you can, but for this exercise a human subject is not necessary:

Take a series of shots experimenting with placing key parts of the images and the natural lines in accordance with 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.

If you would like an email notifying you when each one is published, just complete this form (you can unsubscribe at any time and I promise to be very, very careful with your information):

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Photography secrets | Family Photography Hints Tips and Advice

As a family photographer, people do tend to say to me “I bet you have lovely shots of your family from Christmas.” And you know what? It is much easier to get those shots if you know a few simple secrets.

Then I thought: “Hey, it would be great to share some of this stuff – just as a present for you.” In the run-up to Christmas, I’ll be posting a series on just this subject. In fact I am going to post every other day in the countdown to Santa’s arrival. Here is an introduction to my first two (which are available now):

Move closer

Your family photography could simply be not close enough. We tend to stand back and take shots that depict a whole scene. While there is nothing wrong with some shots like this, discover how getting closer will add more impact to your family photography.

Vary the angle

Stand up and keep the camera straight – it’s a mantra we have formed about our photography from childhood. But what if you break this received rule? I will show you how, if you change the angle you take photographs from, your family photography will be that much more interesting.

 

More ideas

I have plenty of ideas for you to improve your family photography and I’ll be sharing them between now and Christmas – these are just the first two.

Here are two things you can do right now:

1 Sign up below and I’ll make sure you have each tip delivered to your inbox on the day it is published. (Don’t worry, you’ll be able to unsubscribe any time you want – even on Christmas Day – and I will look after your details very, very carefully. I promise.)

2 Let me know what you would most like to improve about your Christmas family photography. I’d love to include my solution as another tip. Please comment below, or on my Facebook Page.

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Vary the angle | Family Photography Hints, Tips and Advice

We see the world from our own eye level and so it is natural to do our family photography from there as well; images are familiar, comfortable, safe, straight. Plus, of course, it saves bending down or climbing up!

But what if we changed things a bit – or even a lot?

When photographing children, try getting down to their eye level. Firstly, you’ll notice a whole new view of the world – one you haven’t seen for some time – but most importantly, you’ll get far greater engagement in your shot – you child’s eyes will be more appealing, you will be taking a picture in their world and they will look more commanding, confident and significant. It also, frankly, shows respect for the person you are photographing.

family photography<<You can see the difference in this lovely black and white portrait: Finn’s eyes are looking straight at us, rather intently; he is pointing something out and we want to know what; he is engaging with the camera but not posing for it. In short, it’s very him.

There is also something else different about this image – the camera has been tilted meaning the shot is not straight. While this can be over used it’s a lovely, interesting and eye-catching way to make things a bit different.

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>>The angle does not need to be dramatic – take a look at the shot on the right that includes a slight tilt from vertical. In this case it creates diagonal lines and although they do not lead to the subject they do frame her.family photography
<<There is no need to stop there. What if we simply ignore the eye level rule and get down low and photograph upwards? Shots from below eye level make people in the shots look commanding, powerful and, sometimes, more attractive! This is true even if you are just a short distance below but very dramatic if you get down really low as in this location family portrait:

 

family photography>>Finally, of course, you can get up above your subject. Here we see a very different shot of my daughter Lydia, taken just before she and brother Oscar stopped sharing the same bedroom. They both wanted shots taken in the shared room before everything changed.

This is a favourite example from my professional work –  a pre-wedding shoot for a young couple taken early one Sunday morning in Butler’s Wharf:

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Now it’s your turn:

Grab your camera and a willing subject or two and take three sets of shots:

Set one: To be taken at the subject’s eye level (if adult, they may need to be sitting).

Set two: Tilt the camera rather than have it horizontal.

Set three: A combination of the first two set rules – so eye level and tilted.

Do you like these effects? Would you use them 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.

If you would like an email notifying you when each one is published, just complete this form (you can unsubscribe at any time and I promise to be very, very care with your information):

Email Marketing You Can Trust

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