to take better family photos?

I have created this guide to help parents create better natural photographs of their families. A lot of parents snap away using their mobile phone, and it’s not until we look back later on that we realise that the quality of the images isn’t really what we would hope for.

As a photographer I will provide you with some key information that will dramatically improve your family photographs.

All of the photography information in this guide is for documentary photography as this is the best way to unobtrusively to create photographic stories of your loved ones.

Let it go

A big part of great family photography is to let go of your bad habits that we have grown up with. We point a camera at our kids and then “say cheese” and try and get our little humans to smile; if you’re lucky they will smile, but often they will either pull an awkward face or a silly one. What we really wanted to photograph was the moment, the fun, and the emotions, however we stopped that and encouraged a silly smile.

Once we shake off our “say cheese” habit we can start to focus on story telling and capturing the real family moments.

Get close and far away

You might be thinking “make your mind up, am I close or far away??”, well you can do both as part of your story telling. When you create a series of photos it’s great to have images setting the scene, then getting closer to the subject and get it to fill much more of the frame.

By taking photos from further away, people are less intimidated and get used to the fact you have your camera out, but they don’t feel too awkward about it. After you have set the scene, you can move a little closer, and perhaps a little closer again. One trick to getting a photo to be closer than you are is to hold the camera at arms length, and use the screen to compose the image. People won’t feel as intimidated as your whole body isn’t really close to them, just your hand and camera is. Try it, it will make a difference.

Think what else you can photograph closely? Any details or objects that will compliment your story and provide variety too. If you’re little one is colouring in at the kitchen table and you’re close to them. What about including images of their hands holding the crayons, or sections of the artwork?

Don’t forget about the light

In the world of photography we look for three main elements – Light, Composition, and Moment! The best photos have all three of these elements, but right now we to focus on light. In simple terms, photography is about capturing light and you need this to create the photograph.

Let’s talk about the consequences of light. If you’re not positioned in the correct place vs the light your subject could be too bright, or too dark when compared to the rest of the photograph. If the light is strong sunlight and coming through a window in front of you, your phone or camera might turn your kids into dark shadows. With a camera there will be options to correct what your camera is thinking – this option is called Exposure Compensation. Your smart phone may not have these options and you will need to move so you can photograph the moments from another angle.


It’s time to look at composition and another important part of what can make a good photo great. There are some simple rules that can be followed as the first step towards improving your competition, and the best one for you to learn first is “the rule of thirds”. I have take a couple of images and drawn red lines across the photo to divide it up into thirds.

This concept is all about how the human eye looks at images, what we see first in images, and if we perceive it to be a good photo or not. Generally, you want your subject on/close to the lines where they intersect. If you were taking a photo of a landscape the horizon would be on the top or bottom line – not in the middle of your photo.

As you can see I have two examples, with the black and white image putting the subjects on the lines, and also using diagonal lines to draw the eye. The other example breaks the rules, but in my opinion was the best composition. The kids are framed nicely by the bushes, and if I had moved to the left or right, the image wouldn’t be as good.

Basically, try to incorporate the rule of thirds into your photographs, but don’t think you have to do it every time.

This should help: Sit back and enjoy this slideshow from a recent family session

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