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Contrary to what you may believe, you don`t have to have expensive equipment or even hire a professional photographer to snag the perfect family portrait. If you know how to operate a simple point and shoot camera, your family can obtain some wonderfully unique photographs by keeping a few simple tips in mind.
Light is the most important factor in photography. Poor lighting can ruin an otherwise wonderful photo by leaving it whitewashed or too dark. It can even distort the subject`s features. A piece of white cardboard can help to create reflections for photos taken indoors. If possible, though, natural outdoor lighting is always the best option. But even in this case you can end up with too much light. Try to find a place with indirect, diffused light. Overcast days work well. You can use your camera`s flash if you find yourself encountering stray shadows, but keep in mind that point and shoot flashes have a tendency to whitewash the photo`s subject. To avoid this, try shielding the flash with a paper towel or Kleenex.
While having a fancy background for your family portrait might seem like a good idea, your best bet is to keep it simple. You want the focus of the picture to be the people, not the backdrop. Avoid clutter. Neutral backgrounds like outdoor settings are a safe bet - just be careful that a poorly placed pole or tree isn`t growing out of someone`s head! Try to adjust your camera so the background is slightly out of focus. It will help the people to stand out more.
Ever wonder why your passport and driver`s license photos are unflattering? Photographing people from the front is frequently the worst angle because the face is flattened into two dimensions. It`s the same principle with family portraits. The smallest angle can make the biggest difference. Ask family members to shift positions if you feel it will make the photo look better. Don`t be afraid to be creative, but don`t overdo it. Also take into account what people are wearing. Everyone doesn`t have to wear the same thing, but do try to avoid color clashes. A Hawaiian shirt in a sea of neutral colors isn`t going to work. A little pre-planning will go a long way.
<i><u>Keep It Calm:</u></i>
If someone is frustrated after a rotten day at work or a couple family members aren`t getting along, it will show in the portrait. It`s the photographer`s job to keep the feel of the shoot as light and informal as possible - especially when kids are involved. Don`t yell. Offer some ice cream to the kids and maybe drinks for the adults. Snap pictures constantly and keep the conversation going. Eventually, everyone will feel at ease and their poses will become more natural.
Don`t be afraid to get up close and personal with your subjects. It gives the photo a more intimate and personal feel than if the same shot were taken from ten feet away. Get down and dirty if you have to. Stoop down to the kids` level. It will be a challenge, to be sure, but the results will be worth the effort.
Nisha represents a site called http://www.chrismullanephotography.co.uk.