Since January 2017 I’ve been taking a family photo every month as part of the Me and Mine project.
I actually attempted the project in 2016 I think but didn’t last long at all with it. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but honestly I have really struggled with it at times over the last few years. But it is so worth the effort each month to take these photos and I absolutely love having them to look back on.
If you don’t ever really take any photos of you with your family because it seems too hard, or you think it’ll be too stressful then this post is for you.
Here are my top tips for taking your own family photos and making the process as stress-free as possible.
1. Lower your expectations
I mean, really lower your expectations. If this is the first time you’re trying to take your own family photos then try not to expect too much from this first attempt.
Let go of the idea you have in your head of the perfect family photo. This way you can hopefully not put pressure on yourself and your family to capture this ‘perfect’ shot. Try instead to focus on getting a photo that is perfectly you.
Keep in mind that the weird grimace-like smile that your 4 year old does for the camera might be a bit frustrating right now when all you want is a ‘nice’ photo. But in a few years time you’ll look back at it and love how much that fake smile captures who he was at this time in his life.
2. Make life easier with the right equipment
If at all possible use a tripod and a remote trigger to take your family photos.
Set your camera up on the tripod and then get your family where you want them in the frame. Then jump in with them and snap away with the remote trigger.
If you don’t have a remote then use the timer function on your camera. This can be actually be a great way to get more natural smiles from your children as they laugh at you frantically running to get in the shot each time!
If you don’t have a tripod then get creative looking for places to prop your camera up. We’ve used walls and benches at the park quite a lot when I’ve not wanted to take the tripod out and about with us.
3. Have a plan of attack
Sometimes it can work to take family photos on the spur of the moment, but for the most part it’s worth making a bit of a plan in advance. Think about where and when you want to take the photos. Try and plan them for a time when everyone will have been fed recently and no one is due a nap!
Have a quick chat with your children before you start and explain to them that you’d like to take a few quick photos of the family together and that you would really like them to just cooperate. Use chocolate bribes if necessary. If everyone knows what you want them to do before you start you’ll have a better chance of getting some good photos.
When you start taking the photos do the more posed, everyone-looking-at-the-camera type shots first. Children will lose interest and get restless quite quickly so get these pictures done first and then you can move on to more relaxed photos.
4. Think outside of the traditional portrait poses
Once you’ve got the more posed photos that you want you can try a few other options.
You can encourage everyone to hug each other, to look at one another, to tell each other jokes. Tickling little ones is a great way to get fun, happy family photos. You don’t have to stay still either, you can set up the camera and then get photos of you all walking towards it.
These kinds of photos where you interact with each other, instead of the camera, are quite often my favourites. And they’re generally easier and less stressful to take than when you’re worrying about having everyone look at the camera.
5. Don’t worry too much about clothing
If you want to then go for coordinating pieces rather than matching outfits, but really the best, less-stress option is to just let everyone wear what they’re comfortable in.
You’ll get much better pictures when everyone feels like themselves.
6. Be prepared to take a lot of photos
The beauty of digital photography is that you can take way more photos than you actually need. So use this to your advantage when you try to take your own family photos and just keep taking picture after picture.
Take more photos than you think you’ll need, to have a better chance of everyone being in focus, with their eyes open and looking where you want them to be looking.
7. Stop and check your photos as you go
Following on from the last point, make sure you stop regularly to check the photos you’ve taken. You don’t want to take hundreds of photos to only realise at the end, when everyone has had enough, that none of them are actually in focus.
So stop now and then to check the photos. Make sure the settings are ok and that the pictures aren’t too dark or blown out, and check that you’re all in focus.
8. If all else fails, try again another day
Remember that this is meant to be fun, so if things just aren’t working out stop, and try again another day.
Some days you’ll find that someone in the family just isn’t in the mood to have their photo taken, or you just won’t feel happy with the pictures you’re getting. On these days it really is just best to stop, take a break, try again later.
When was the last time you had a photo of you and your family all together?
Hopefully these tips will help give you the confidence to head out with your family and take some if you’ve not done it for a while.