How to photograph everyday family life

How to photograph your everyday life

I love a nice photo of my children smiling at the camera as much as the next person.

But what I love even more, are the perfectly imperfect photos of our everyday life.  The photos that capture what our life looks like, right now.  The photos that hold all those little details that take me back to that moment in time when I look back at them.

If you’d like to photograph more of your everyday family life, but aren’t sure where to start or how to go about it then these tips will help you get going.


Have your camera on hand

This is something that my mum said to me when I first had my son and it’s advice I still keep in mind today.

You never know when something is going to happen with your family that you’ll want to photograph, so keep your camera out and on hand as much as you can.  So when those moments arrive you can grab your camera and capture it.


Watch for the moments that make you feel something

Think about the things you’ll miss about this stage of life when it’s gone and aim to capture photographs that show these things.

Look for the moments with your children that show you more than just what they look like.  Record the peaceful moment they fall asleep in your partner’s arms.  Capture their little feet dangling at the edge of the chair, nowhere near reaching the floor yet.  Photograph them with their favourite cuddly toy that they sleep with every single night.


Be patient

Wait for the moment to happen.

You can step up activities for your children, like if you want to photograph them playing with their favourite lego set, but you’ll still need to be patient and wait for the perfect moment to take the photo.


Think about your composition

Take some time to think about the composition of your photos.

Don’t always keep the main subject of your photo in the middle of the frame.  The rule of thirds is a great rule to keep in mind to create more interesting photos.  This is basically where you imagine your frame being divided into a grid of 9 rectangles.  You want to place your subject on one of the gridlines, which will be a third of the way into the image.

Another tip with this, if you’re using it with photos of your child, is to make sure they’re moving into the image, rather than heading out of it.

You can also create great photos of your everyday life by thinking about layers.

Some images are best kept clean and clear of too many distractions, but others work really well if you have interesting elements in the foreground, the middle and the background.

If you’re capturing your children at home playing, then you might have toys on the floor in the foreground, a child playing in the middle, and an overflowing bookcase in the background.  All these different elements add so much interest to the photo, as well as holding so many memories to discover in the future.


Think about the details

The details are so often my favourite things to capture.

Close up photos of teeny baby fingers and toes.  The curls that appear in my daughter’s hair when she’s been out in the rain.  Grubby hands and filthy fingernails after a day playing and learning in the dell at school.

These are the details that will fade over time, and they are so special if you can capture them in a photograph.


Think in stories

You can’t always capture what’s happening in a single photo.  That one picture won’t tell the whole story of what your child is up to.

Sometimes it’s worth thinking about taking a series of photos, almost like a personal photo essay.

So if you want to capture your child painting a picture, you could take a wide shot of the whole scene.  Then close ups of their hand holding the paintbrush and the look of concentration on their face.  You could get up high and take a photo from above showing them working on their masterpiece.  Then finally you can photograph the finished artwork.

The key here is to move around.  Zoom in and out.  Mix up your angles and your composition to get different photos to tell the whole story.


Have fun

Get to know your camera, and then start having fun with different settings.

If your child likes to spin around so their dress flies out, use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, then change to a slower shutter speed to get some fun motion blur.

Have fun playing with focus points in your images and change the depth of field to put the attention on different things.

I love to use a shallow depth of field and focus my camera on my children’s hands when they’re playing or drawing.  This puts the focus on what it is they’re doing in that moment, while still showing some of their features and expressions.


I’ll just leave you with one more bit of advice for photographing your everyday life – make sure you’re in some of those photos too.

I’ve said it so many times before, but you need to make sure you exist in your photos.  I feel so strongly about it that I started a little community over on Instagram with #ShowYouWereThere.  It’s all about getting more parents in more photos, and I’d love to see more and more people joining in with it!


Which of these tips will you be putting into action?

What story about your life right now do you want to take the time to capture in photographs?



Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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