April 7, 2020

5 Easy Tips for Taking Your Own Family Photos

You CAN Do This!!

There is nothing more that I would rather be doing on a warm, sunny spring day than photographing your family,kids, senior, engagement or birthday! The flowers and trees are in bloom, adding color and vibrance and awakening our senses that better days are surely on the way! But with these "Stay at home orders" in effect, photographers are considered non essential and I want your family to stay as safe and healthy as possible during this time. I will certainly be there for you when this is all over but for the time being, I wanted to give you a few tips in addition to my FB video last week with instructions on how to take your own family photos. If you missed the video, it's on FB @ Jennifer Kurz Photography.

I am inspired to write this from my sister who lives in Texas. She and her family ventured out to a bluebonnet field with their camera and a tripod knowing how challenging it might be but did not want to miss this once a year opportunity! If you have beautiful trees or flowers blooming and do not want to miss capturing these sweet moments with your family, I hope this helps you! I look back on the photos I have taken over the last year and am so thankful that I took them. Our boys are now a whole year older and have had so many changes that I am glad I got on camera.

  1. AVOID HARSH MIDDAY LIGHTING. Without getting too technical, midday lighting is SUPER hard to work with. It's too bright and can leave the family squinting or with shadows on faces. To avoid this, try going first thing in the morning or about an hour before the sun sets. You can research online the time of sunset and sundown for your town. Using your yard is a great resource because you can look a few days in advance how the sun is at different times of the day. For example, if I want my family to have that nice "glow" as the sun sets, I know that I need to be in our back yard at X time. Our front yard is nicer in the morning and we have more flowers and trees there. If you do want that nice sunset glow, have everyone with their back to the sun to add some pretty lighting. In an effort to keep it simple, keep your camera on "auto mode" because this time of day can be tricky, even for the best photographers. You can see the example below of how the sun is lighting my son's hair.
  2. CHOOSE A NON-DISTRACTING BACKGROUND. A light, solid colored wall, field of flowers or grasses work well. (Please make sure you are keeping acceptable social distance if you decide to go outside of your home). For example, I tend to stay away from dark trees because it's hard to make the subjects stand out. Pull the family away from the background a few feet when positioning. In the example below, the pink and white tree was gorgeous. But if I hadn't moved my son away from it, he would not have "popped" from the background.
  3. HAVE 2 POSES IN MIND. If this is your first attempt, 2 poses is a good number to practice. Seated will most likely work best to fit everyone in the frame. For example, mom and dad can be seated with kids in their lap. Just keep in mind that someone will have to set the timer and run back to their seat. Try one with everyone smiling and look at the camera. Then set the timer again and do a funny one. Have mom or dad say "everyone look at the person with the stinkiest feet" or one of the parents can tell a quick joke to get everyone laughing. In my experience, the candid ones ALWAYS turn out the best!!! The photo below was not taken by me (photo credit to Jessica Dieckhaus in Florida) but you can see an easy seated pose that makes everyone look comfortable and is easy when setting up the camera.
  4. USE A SELF TIMER. If you are trying this with your phone, turn the phone around to selfie mode. Set the timer for at least 10 seconds so that whoever is setting has time to run back to their spot! If you are using a camera, refer to your manual or google the model of the camera to learn how to set the timer because every one is just a bit different. If your camera has a rotating screen, rotate it towards the subjects so that you can view it like a phone. If your camera does not have a rotating screen, have the person setting the timer also set the subjects, zoom in or out, leaving room for where that person will be in the frame. If you plan on having several sessions, you might want to invest in a remote but unless you are going to use it often, I don't suggest it. I don't even have one because I would rather have a professional take our photos!
  5. USE A TRIPOD OR STAND. A tripod is ideal for a camera but anything else you have at home can work just as well! A ladder, step stool or a chair will work just as well. You may have to get a little creative like using books or something as added height or support.

BONUS TIPS:

1. Make sure kids are well rested and have had snacks or a meal before attempting! Give them a special treat afterwards for cooperating!

2. Relax and Have Fun!!! You might be surprised and get some good laughs out of everyone! They don't have to be perfect, just documenting your time together is well worth the effort!

I know these will not take the place of having a professional photographer take your photos but this can be a fun activity that the whole family can do together and laugh about later! I hope I have helped you today and I would LOVE to see your final products if you make the attempt at your own photos!! Please stay safe and know that I am thinking about all of you and cannot WAIT to get back out there and capture your memories!