Family portrait photography with two Jack Russells, shot on location in Johannesburg
Photographing families is something I spend quite a bit of my time doing, and often on location in clients homes. Finding areas that are suitable to take photos and have good lighting can sometimes be a challenge, so I’ve put together a few ideas to help you get the most out of your next home photo session whether you’ve got family visiting for the weekend or you’re having a get together with friends.
Timing – the time of day you choose to shoot will make a difference in two ways. 1 – if there are children involved, it’s best to work in the morning after they’ve had breakfast and before they are due to nap to avoid attempting to work with little grumps & 2 – in terms of lighting, either early in the morning or later in the afternoon is best, midday is the time to avoid as the light can be very harsh and difficult to work with.
Lighting – following on from the above – even lighting is the most flattering for portraits. This means no harsh shadows or patches of light in your image, so faces look lovely and correctly exposed. You’ll find even lighting in areas of shade (you don’t need much shade to get a great shot), under trees and in front of tall hedges.
Use a wide aperture to blur the background. You’ll get the best images where the subject is in focus and the background is blurred (the technical term for this is depth of field). You can get this effect in camera by using a wide aperture (F5 for example) or by setting your camera or phone to portrait mode.
Interact with your subjects – children get bored very quickly, so the best way to get candid, smiley photos is to interact with them and make them laugh. I often shoot with a favourite toy draped over my camera lens to get some smiles and energy going and I once spent the best part of 10 minutes wearing a pig hat to get the cooperation of a two year old. If you can make a shoot as fun and playful as possible for small people, you’ll get great shots.
Composition – putting your photo together well makes all the difference. Great composition means – being careful about what’s in the background of your shot (watch out for wayward plants and furniture), filling the frame with your subject and considering how the colours in your image will work together.
If you’d like to learn more about putting these techniques into practise, join me for a small group workshop on Saturday 18th June in Johannesburg (venue TBC), details are below. You can contact me to book by clicking here.