Family Photos Can Be Fun

By Roger (15 March 2015)

It's been a while since we discussed family snapshots, and, since that's what I shot this weekend, let's do that. You're going to get asked to take these as the family begins to rely on you for photos when everyone gets together. For me, this is fun stuff since I love to photograph children, and I've included these photos throughout my blogging over the years.

This weekend, much of my immediate family gathered in Maryland. (It gets harder and harder to get them all in the same place at the same time.) Four of the grandkids were there, and we always like to get photos of the cousins together. You've seen these shots throughout your life. They're always a pain when you're one of the subjects, but you sit for a few minutes for the relatives. These photos look like this:

Typical shot of the cousins

Typical shot of the cousins

There is nothing wrong (or exciting) about these photos, but they document the passage of time. Everyone takes them; you probably have some old prints of yourself in similar version of this photo. They always bring a smile as you remember those get-togethers.

We had the youngest grandkid, Jack, there, so the older grandkids were mostly happy to cooperate. Jack is only four months old, so they still think he's fun. And, since he lives away from us, he became the prime target for additional photos. (He's, also, too young to tell us he doesn't want to pose.)

You may find yourself taking the standard baby shots: baby on the floor and baby being held. Again, there is nothing wrong with these shots. They are the most requested and show everyone smiling. They're great for desk frames.

"Baby on a floor" You can do better than this.

"Baby on a floor" You can do better than this.

Mom and son. Again, documenting the passage of time.

Mom and son. Again, documenting the passage of time.

With a little imagination and just a little more effort, you can get photos with a little more character. Happily, my daughter was up for it and brought a couple of props (hats) that made it fun.

So, let me set the scene here. The sky is overcast, so time of day didn't matter. I didn't bring a flash (wish I had). We shot these in two sessions of less than 10 minutes each. Keep the sessions short to keep the baby smiling. We never left my oldest daughter's yard. All of these photos were taken within 20 feet of her front door.

In other words, you don't have to travel far, or at all, if you don't want to. The key is to get in close, so the environment is kept at a minimum. Jack, at four months, can't sit unsupported, so he was held. By going in close, and keeping the holding hands inside the baby's outfit, you can keep those distractions out of the photo.

The first hat was a red plaid, with ear flaps. Jack and family live in Canada, so this stereotype photo seems obvious, eh? His mother's arm is behind the piece of firewood on the right. The small part of her arm you could see was easily taken care of in Photoshop.

What time does the hockey game start?

What time does the hockey game start?

We switched to a floppy hat and moved six feet to be near the porch post, to give Jack something to lean on. It is also hiding his mother's arm, so no Photoshop was required. He's wearing the same clothes, but this is a completely different look.

A completely different look.

A completely different look.

For the last shot, we had to move a whole 10 feet to a parked Camero and a different hat. He has dual citizenship, so we needed to bring some American influence into the photo, right? Here, again, there is no Photoshop.

Rebel without a pacifier.

Rebel without a pacifier.

We had lots of fun with this, and it didn't stress out the baby or the mother. This kind of technique is easy and costs you nothing. It helps give you more interesting photos of the youngsters in your family, and you know the family is going to expect you to take photos at family gatherings. And, if the family is happy, they might even let you be in one of the photos. ;-)

Look, he's got my squinty eyes!

Look, he's got my squinty eyes!