Capturing that perfect family moment for the album, scrapbook or annual greeting card may seem like a daunting task, and a professional photographer might be a bit pricey. With a few simple tips and a digital camera, you can do it yourself. Here's how.
Be prepared. Spend a bit of time getting to know your camera’s settings. Learn how to change ISO settings to take pictures in low or bright light and to alter the focal length of the lens to blur out backgrounds. Make sure you have a digital storage card with plenty of room, start with fresh batteries and have spares on hand. Prepare the family, too. If possible, give them a guideline color palette to dress in, but allow them to express their individuality. They will feel more relaxed and their personalities will shine through.
Get closer. When the group is posed naturally, get them to move in closer to each other. “When families are physically close, it emits a warmth and visually shows what families should be like,” says professional photographer Chas Elliot. “When you get everyone rubbing shoulders, they look like a model family and the overall composition is more finished than a typical snapshot.” He advises having everyone lined up with shoulders slanted toward the camera as a starting point. When you’re taking the shot, zoom in closer than you think you need to, as close as you can without cutting anyone out of the frame, and take head and shoulder shots, rather than body shots, for an intimate feel.
Open wide. The larger the group, the more chance there is of one subject blinking in the photo. Elliot uses the “rapid fire” technique to take several shots close together and “transplants” eyes from one photo to another. To avoid shut-eye shots, photographer K. Praslowicz advises: "Have everyone shut their eyes. Then count down from three and have everyone open at the one count. ” This should leave you with wide-eyed subjects and not a blink in sight when you take your shot.
Be candid. You might want to take a few formal shots, but also have some fun. Take a few candid shots of the kids playing, or stage a jump shot, with everyone’s arms in the air and feet off the ground. Try taking a panorama shot using camera guides if your camera has this feature or using items in the background as landmarks if not. Use Photoshop or GIMP to make a “small planet” of your family photo following these instructions.