On those special days when family members gather, it’s important to capture lovely photographic images to build memories. Snapshots are fun, but for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, family reunions, and other important occasions a portrait can be a framed keepsake everyone will want.
You might think taking a portrait at home is difficult, but a few tips will help you achieve a beautiful outcome with the “wow” factor.
To get that all-important money shot, some people consider going to the dentist beforehand so their smile is clean and fresh. As good as it is to have a great photo, your oral hygiene should be equally as important. Who doesn’t want to have a family portrait that shows everyone’s perfect smile? You might think taking a portrait at home is difficult, but a few tips will help you achieve a beautiful outcome with the “wow” factor.
What You Need
Other than your camera, there are a few accessories that will make portrait photography much easier. A sturdy tripod is essential, especially if the photographer wants to be part of the image. A mini tripod is also helpful placing the camera on a high surface to shoot down. Another important item is a wireless remote shutter release. Even with a tripod, there can be some camera movement when the shutter is depressed, which is eliminated when a remote release is used. Other accessories that make home portrait photography easier include a remote flash for when you need a little extra light that is not aimed at your subject’s face. A light meter is also very helpful to get accurate readings for both ambients and flash conditions. A long lens is quite flattering to facial features, and a focal length between 70mm and 200mm is a good size.
- De-clutter the area where the portrait will be shot
- Take a picture of the area ahead of time
- Look carefully for things that will detract from the image
- Remove any cups, glasses, papers, bottles, and other items that are not part of your decor.
- Be sure window curtains and shades are in the proper position if they will show in the image.
You can create a backdrop with some wall decals, that can help frame or create a dimension to your picture. Once you are pleased with your area, add any special element (props) you want to appear partly or wholly in the image. Props can include:
- Musical instruments
- Holiday decorations
- Wrapped gifts
- Any other item you like
Although props are not necessary for a lovely portrait, they are gaining in popularity. Use natural lighting as much as possible, and only use flash if it’s remote and doesn’t shine right on faces.
Posing Children & Pets
Give kids and pets a quick grooming before posing them. When children are the subjects of the portrait, a tiny piece of candy or a cookie just before shooting their pictures, and children can be covered in chocolate from head to toe in seconds.
Children and pets can become very wiggly when asked to sit still for a picture. Select fun poses that make them feel more at ease. Here are some examples to get you started, but use your personal knowledge of the children to create some great poses.
- Have children lie on the floor with their heads propped on their hands. Shoot from a low level at a slight angle. Just before pressing the shutter, tell them something funny.
- Two children can sit on the floor back to back. Ask them to turn and look at you when you say “look,” and press the shutter at that moment.
- A single child and a big teddy bear can be the basis of several poses, including hugging, snuggling, and pretending to sleep.
With groups, avoid the “line-up” pose. Have everyone lean in toward a person placed in the center. Pose subjects around an object, such as a piano or small table full of desserts or drinks. As stated before, your imagination plays a big part in creating clever poses.
Avoid the straight into the camera stare. Have your subject pick an object to look at that is off to the side. You can also have them look at someone standing beside you, and make a natural smile. Ask your subject to turn their body to one side and then look back at you. Any natural looking pose makes a good portrait.
Be prepared for your next opportunity to capture your family member in beautiful portrait poses, and make memories everyone will want to share.