Taking Great Family Photographs

The best family photos I have ever taken were at a family gathering in someone’s garden. I was sitting on the grass in the garden while adults and older children played cricket and the little ones ran in and out getting in their way and generally being adorable.

The point to take from this is that it is not always the formal and the fully equipped photographer who has the best opportunity to make good family photos. You love and are in amongst your family, and from there springs the best family photography of all.

In a similar way to wildlife photography place yourself somewhere discreet but in clear view of everything going on, preferably in an area where the light is good enough to capture any high speed action. As with timid birds once camera shy adults and little children get used to you sitting where you are, they will forget about you which gives you the opportunity to record the event without the shyness and awkwardness that you sometimes get with posed family shots.

When choosing your place to sit also consider your perspective, if you are trying to capture the under threes the chances are you will get better shots if you are on their level, so if you are outdoors make sure you have a rug to sit on (this sometimes attracts them to sit on anyway and allows you to take pictures of them having imaginary tea-parties, etc), otherwise sit on the floor. The eye-level shots you get will definately make up for the soreness of sitting on the floor rather than in a comfy armchair.

Just because you are aiming for candid shots, doesn’t mean to say be unprepared. If its possible and practicable bring a tripod to avoid any camera shake, monopods are prettty good too and take up less space. Also ask whoever is hosting what the plan for the day is, if it’s a child’s party will their be a cake and where are they planning to sing Happy Birthday, if its a general gathering what time food is being served, you can get great shots of little children covered in chocolate cake if you are in the right place at the right time.

My final piece of advice is to relax and enjoy what is going on around you. You are not just the photographer and you can actually help create the right atmosphere of fun and games necessary to give you all the picture opportunities that you could dream of. I have actually bowled a cricket ball and taken pictures of the resulting hit with the bat. Action shots are great fun, and there’s no reason you can’t form part of the action too.