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How to take stunning family photos like a professional

Naomi de la Torre is freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom with two delightful boys, ages three and six. Naomi has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, is a self-proclaimed salsa diva, and can make a killer octopus ...

Perfect family photos

Turn your family snapshots into professional quality photos with these simple tips and tricks.

Seize the moment

Kids are naturally photogenic. Instead of bending over backwards to create posed photos that look natural, try capturing the essence of special moments in your daily life. Take photos of your kids swinging from the monkey bars, splashing along the shoreline or tromping down the side of a large hill. Thanks to digital photography, you don’t have to worry about wasting film. You can take as many shots as you like until you find the ones that have the fresh, yet timeless feel you are looking for.

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Frame your subjects off-center

Go against your natural impulse to center all your photographs. While some shots look nice centered within the frame, off-center compositions can give your photos a dynamic and artistic feel. Experiment with framing your subject in the left or right third of your photo rather than in the middle to see the kind of creative results you can achieve.

Get on the ground

If you want to create a unique photo that dramatically captures life from a child’s viewpoint, get on the ground. Photographer Andie Hamilton explains, “People don’t often think about getting down on the child’s level, but this can create some of the most intriguing shots. I often find myself lying on my stomach on the ground next to the child to get the most interesting angle.”

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Use low F-stops

To get crystal-clear photos with a dreamy, blurred background, experiment with using lower F-stops. This means you will have to take your camera off auto-focus, but the results are more than worth it. The F-stop on a camera tells you how much light you let in while exposing your photo. Photos taken with a lower F-stop have a wider aperture to let in more light, but the depth of field is very shallow. This is what creates stunningly vivid portraits with gorgeously blurred backgrounds.

Avoid harsh light

Bad lighting is the enemy of good photography. Unfortunately, unless you are professionally trained, you might not know that the midday sun is not the best light for photographs. Hamilton explains, “You actually want your subjects to be in shade rather than direct sun and you also don’t want them facing the sun because this causes squinting.” Consider doing your photo sessions in early morning or late afternoon for beautiful soft light. Cloudy days are also great for photo shoots.

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Zoom in close

Ever notice your child in his own world looking at a handful of wiggling worms, blowing his breath against a cold window or watching the dew drops fall off morning leaves? These are the moments that photography was made for. Seize these fleeting moments in time by zooming in close to find that special angle that tells the story from your child’s unique perspective.

Go outside

If you want to get a fun, family portrait that doesn’t look staged, head outside. Let your family have fun together in a natural setting and take photos that celebrate who you really are. Experiment with different angles and you are sure to capture some dynamic shots that tell the story of your beautiful family.

More on family photography

Family photography: The basic shots you need to know
Best props for family photos
How to arrange a family photo wall

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