4 Secrets to Taking Better Photos of Your Family

Have you ever pulled out your camera or phone to snap a family photo and been disappointed at how it turned out? Or spent an hour messing with your settings and getting frustrated because your family wouldn’t sit still? Or wasted 20 minutes editing what should have been a 5 minute photo? Us too. Luckily, we’ve learned a few tricks that allow us to capture memorable moments quickly so we can spend more time together.

  1. Find good lighting

Lighting is that elusive thing that we’re always chasing. But as long as you have some natural lighting around, you can make a good photo work. Here’s a few tips to find good lighting.

An example of sidelighting your photos by a window

An example of sidelighting your photos by a window

  • If you’re indoors, find a window. By shooting with your subject’s face facing the light, you’ll capture better details. Plus the indirect light will be soft enough to preserve shadows around the face, which you need to capture emotion.

  • If you’re outside in full sun (or facing a window in full sun), consider back lighting your subject. This means your subject puts their backs to the sun. You’ll be able to capture their faces without squinty eyes and crazy saturated skin tones. If the photo is a little hazy, up the contrast in your editing software (lightroom or even something simple, like VSCO or the Iphone photo editor on your phone)

  • Consider placing your subject to the side of the light source. In the photo to the right, we placed our subject to the side of the window. This created a moody feel that told a story and captured the shadows and details of his cute lil’ face.

  • Your photo should be bright enough to see eyes and important details, but not so bright that skin tones look pasty.

Soft light facing into a window

Soft light facing into a window

Back lit photo from a window

Back lit photo from a window

Making the most of full sun

Making the most of full sun

Side light from a window

Side light from a window

2. Keep your photos straight

Have you ever looked at photo and had to tilt your head? It’s because there are lines in almost every aspect of our life, but most people don’t bother to straighten them in photographs. Even if you’re not a photographer, you probably prefer the symmetry and balance of straight lines in a photograph. You can either straighten in camera or do it after when you edit. See the two photos below and you’ll see how the right one dips down in an awkward angle.

A great tool is to turn the gridlines in your camera or iphone on so you can see when a line isn’t straight. Here’s a quick trick on how to do it on an iphone.

how to turn gridlines on in photography iphone
photography grid
gridlines

3. Use the same edit as often as possible

Consistency allows you to focus on the subject instead of the ever changing editing and colors in a photo. Have you ever been super confused about which edit to choose on your Vsco or which filter on Instagram? Or do you just free edit and feel like every single photo looks different?

Picking a consistent style and sticking to it will help your photos have a timeless feel for you to look back on. Good editing won’t take away from your subject, but enhance the story that is already there.

If you want a quick peek into how I edit one of my phone photos, sign up here to get a little video delivered right to your inbox about my editing.

4. Tell a story

Good photos tell a story. They aren’t just random photos of random people. They are photos of your kids and family members that will be looked back on for generations to come. Don’t try and pose your family. Just snap photos of them doing what they do best. Being them. Maybe while your older child is reading to his little sister. Or when your kids are jumping on the bed. When your parents are dancing in the living room. Or when your brother hits a homerun at his first baseball game. Those are the memories you’ll want to remember. The in-between story of your life. Not the posed, perfect moments. But the real things that mattered.