What are the secrets to beautiful family photos? Why do some folks have the most amazing portraits hanging on their walls while your pictures almost always feature crying babies, disgruntled children and clashing colors? Your beautiful family portrait questions – answered.
The Boring Line
Lined up and ready to say “cheese,” your family looks great to you. Unfortunately, the finished result is nothing as stellar. The lineup is boring, there are uneven spaces between the kids and the ramrod straight stance looks anything but natural.
The solution: Cluster rather than line up. If you are working with small numbers of subjects, place the tallest member of the family in the middle of the portrait. Group the rest of the family around this person. A child might look over a sibling’s shoulder while a wife may snuggle into the embrace of her husband.
The Forced Pose
The toddlers have been running around since the morning. They are now tired and cranky. Mom and dad have had a bit of a disagreement over lunch, and the teen would rather be playing Minecraft than posing with the whining toddlers.
The solution: Capture the moment. I have had better luck with surreptitiously snapped pictures than any shot I ever tried to pose. Photograph the moment when everyone is laughing at the baby’s cuteness over lunch or the toddlers’ expressions after eating peas.
The Color Clash
Your daughter is decked out in hot pink while your son is going through a grunge phase. You try to accommodate your daughter by wearing something pink as well, but it makes you look washed out. Dad wants no part of pink and is digging for his yellow golf shirt. The resulting photo is a clash of colors with a grunge stain.
The solution: Ask everyone to wear comfortable clothes. This eliminates the reach for the truly awful and helps the family’s look to gel. Most folks wear “regular” clothing that runs toward softer colors or is designed to match a large number of tops or bottoms. Rather than seeing your teen daughter in a hot pink tracksuit, you have better odds at catching her in black jeans and a nice top.
The Death Grip
Have you ever seen family photos were a dad with a clenched smile was holding on to toddlers about ready to head off in opposite directions?
The solution: Go piggyback! Who says that the kids have to stand right in front of mom and dad? Why not let one youngster ride piggyback while the other one has the arms outstretched ready for a turn? Have mom lean in, and you have a great family portrait!
The Wailing Child
You are trying to get your kids to smile. You dance, you make funny noises and after about 45 minutes, you resort to threats and bribery. All it takes is one older sibling’s criticism of the youngest family member to set off the powder keg of waiting wails.
The solution: Accept natural expressions. Why does your child have to smile? Think about it! Some of the most authentic poses you see in photography exhibitions do not come with full-toothed smiles but rather show off smirks, interested gazes and wide-eyed wonder. The experts at Photography Monthly concur and suggest that you do not force a smile when trying to capture a likeness of the kids.