Armed with nothing more than a relatively good camera with built in self-timing capabilities and a tripod, anybody with a little bit of desire can take it upon themselves to take good family portraits. I mean this isn’t the Victorian era any more, where if you walked into the study or home office of the typical family nucleus, you’d have found those rather military-like family portraits which somehow just manage to sneak in some awkwardness. Some or other family member or even all of them in the portrait somehow just manages to look like they’d much rather be elsewhere. Those portraits just cannot help but look like they’re forced – that or they look like the subjects are trying to strike their best unnatural-natural pose, in a joint family attempt to perhaps win some weekly magazine competition.
Things are much easier in that regard these days, thankfully so too. Family portraits are special preservations of memories which people now seek to create in a much more natural fashion and that’s essentially how to approach DIY family portraits.
On your quest to take good family portraits, you need to really be able to exercise patience. Don’t rush things and don’t force matters. The best way to make family portraits look natural is for the setting to be natural. In other words, round everybody up to pose for just a brief moment after you’ve set the camera’s self-time on and mounted it on the tripod, making sure to take the shot while the family is enjoying something you all regularly enjoy doing together. If it’s an activity or setting you specifically chose for a family portrait and you’ve never really become accustomed to it before, this too just has an uncanny way of showing in the final attempts at family portrait pics. So be patient and let the moment happen naturally, especially if there are little babies or toddlers in the family.
Make Sure Everybody is Comfortable
Comfort is the key to the success of any DIY family portrait, which is why it’s perhaps best to do the shoot during summer. Everybody has fewer clothes on and is generally more comfy in the warmer weather, plus there’s far better natural light which takes a lot of the work out of having to adjust things like the lighting. That said however, some of the best-looking family portraits I’ve seen involve snow, while others are taken during autumn, with an array of lovely autumn-leave colours. Still, everybody in the pic just needs to be as comfortable as possible, otherwise any discomfort tends to show up in a rather amplified manner.
Your family portrait must depict a bit of fun being had by the family. You don’t have to have everybody arranged in a traditional manner or forcing a smile. It really doesn’t matter what other family portraits look like. All that matters is that yours is a preservation of a moment in time when you managed to enjoy having everybody together to share in the moment. Fill the frame if you want, or pose rolling around in the autumn leaves maybe. Whatever – it’s YOUR family portrait.