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6 Tips for Beautiful Family Photos

October 2016 –

Here are some tips for capturing beautiful moments of your family that you will be proud to display in your home for many years to come.

  1. Find soft light.

You don’t want your subjects squinting in Perth’s midday sun or have half their face in shadow. You need to find soft, directional light. Overcast days are great because the clouds soften and diffuse the sun, meaning no harsh shadows. If it is a sunny day, find some shade (under a tree, veranda etc).

Family Photography Course-2This veranda at a community centre in Claremont, provided the perfect shade from Perth’s harsh sun.

2. Make triangles and keep the family close

If you are not sure how to place all the family members, a good starting point is to make a triangle or pyramid. Triangles are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Family portraits are all about relationship and connection so always ask them to squish in a bit tighter. Triangles make a pleasing composition and bring the heads in together.

Family Photography Course 2

3. Pre-empt and be ready for candid moments.

Life’s most magical moments happen spontaneously but sometimes you can predict what’s going to happen next. You need to always be ready to capture those moments.

The ducks were just out of shot playing in a puddle. I  managed to position myself just in time and wait for them to fly off.

Family Photography Course 3This grandmother just came down to help out her family. As we were packing up to leave this little boy ran to his grandmother for a hug. Although the grandmother wasn’t planning on being part of the shoot it made for a beautiful moment.

4. Build Rapport

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter” (Eisenstaedt).

The best photographers don’t necessarily have the best DSLR camera or the most technical knowledge. However they know how to relate to children and grown ups from all walks of life and how to make them feel relaxed in front of the camera.

Family Photography Course 4

5. Get Closer

“If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough” (Capa). Family portraits are all about people. Get closer and focus on the people and their expressions. If the background, legs, feet etc aren’t adding anything to the moment, crop them out.

Family Photography Course 5The play equipment in the background was distracting from this portrait so I zoomed in close to crop it out.

6. Get them sitting or lying

Usually when it is time for the family portrait you get the family to stand together. Heads are usually all in a level row and the result is usually less than exciting. I teach students on my family photography courses to get the family sitting and stagger everyone’s head position. Arranging the faces on different levels gives a much cohesive group. It is such a simple method but it really does make for more interesting images.

Family Photography Course 8Getting these siblings to lie down brought the focus of this composition to their faces.

Family Photography Course 6

One Sky Photography Courses in Perth

Relaxing on the grass at a park in Claremont, Perth.


Remember these tips are just a good starting point, and as your photography progresses, you will want to mix it up and try different things.

If you would like to learn more about family photography I have a variety of practical beginners photography courses and workshops at parks around Perth. Just send me an email: garry@oneskyphotography.com.au

I had a really good time yesterday, you made the course very enjoyable and easy. Even though I still feel a beginner with photography, I can see the potential in creativity, thanks to your easy approach to the technical side of the camera.

Celine Gaudin

Garry gave my husband & I a 3 hour lesson on how to use our new Nikon cameras. He is a great teacher and photographer. We learned so much as he explained everything so clearly. We no longer set our cameras to ‘Auto’. We really enjoyed the lesson. Thanks Garry!

Steph Debnam

Many thanks for this Garry,
I found yesterday very useful and interesting. A good 3 hours well spent.!! Once again many thanks for your help – it was good fun.

Peter Brash

I’m so thankful Carol organised the lesson with you for me. My photos and Carol’s are so much better. Carol loves having her photo taken now! We get so many comments on our photos now.

Ilse Roets

Garry did an excellent job of pitching the lesson just right based on the limited experience we both had.

Kathy Davis

Finally, I can get off auto mode with my DSLR and start taking some speccy pics! Three hours with Garry Wilcox has demystified the process for me and made me feel far more confident about experimenting with exposures and lighting etc. He certainly knows his stuff and communicates it most effectively and patiently.

Gary McGay

Thanks for your time on Sunday. The lesson was fantastic and I really learnt a lot. Carol posted a couple of the photos on facebook that we took of Eva and have had a lot of really positive responses. Thanks again for your time.

Paul Foley

I thoroughly enjoyed yesterdays lesson and felt I learnt a lot. It inspired me to take my camera out during the ‘ Golden hour’ yesterday and take some photos around Lake Claremont. The sunset was awesome!


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