February 17, 2011

Bonus - "How do I take a really great family photo?"

They’re plotting against you.

Making faces. Chocolate on the new dress. Running around when the shutter clicks. Your kids are going to pull just about every trick in the book to make sure you can’t take that traditionally family photo.

Good for them.

Look. When it comes to that classic Sears portrait look, Sears and its ilk do about as good a job as anyone. So why replicate the forced grins, flat lighting and cookie cutter backdrops?

Step up to the next level and make your next family photo something to remember. To help you get there, try out these pointers:

Ask yourself one question.
What does my family love? Great photos come from great ideas – so start by thinking about a great idea. Are you all avid skiers? Then think about a fun shot on the slopes. Do you go to the movies a lot? Convince the theatre manager to let you in a few minutes early and snap away at the front row. Search online for inspiration. I like this one, this one and this one.
Think about what you’re going to do.
Plan it out – within reason. Close your eyes and see your final photo. Think about what appears in the frame (and what doesn’t). Consider what way the sun is pointing. Imagine what the faces look like in the photo. You might want to try a few sample photos at your location to see how it all works.

Get outsideish.
If you’re not a lighting freak (guilty), you’re going to depend on that ugly on camera flash – and you won’t be happy with the results. Get your family somewhere where there’s a lot of light – either outside or near a great big window in the house. Again, doing some test shots will give you a sense of what to expect.

Pack a bag.
You don’t need a sack full of equipment to make a good photo. You do need to cart along a few essentials: wet wipes for dirty faces, Clean and Clear pads for shiny foreheads, tape for any manner of things, extra batteries, your camera’s manual annnnnnnd a tripod. Don’t have a tripod? No problem. Improvise with something that’ll hold up your camera.

Don’t ask for the smile.
Here’s a million dollar secret for shooting your family (that never sounds right) – don’t get anyone to say cheese. Instead, talk to your subjects. Want ‘em to smile? Tell everyone an inside family joke or get everyone to make a funny face first. No matter what, just keep talking. Getting everyone to forget about the camera and just have a conversation is a big part of any great photograph.

Next up: the one thing that will make every one of your photos a whole lot better.

Last chance to win 4gig EyeFi Card. Post a burning photo question in the comments section at frameone.blogspot.com by midnight February 17 – and you’re entered into the draw.

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