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DIY in-home family photography tips from Kim Forrester Photography

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Hi! I’m Kim, a South Surrey mom and owner of Kim Forrester Photography, a mobile studio for in-home newborn, maternity, and family photography. Since many of Samara’s readers are moms and fellow creatives, I know you have it in you to create beautiful photography of your kids, maybe even to share in your website bios. So I’d love to share some easy DIY photography tips with you!

Why not update your family photo wall with some fresh new photos of your family and kids, as a new creative project to help get you through this winter? You might remember this year as that strange time we were all stuck at home, but your kids will remember it as quality time with their parents, so make sure to document it. 

If you have a DSLR, now is the time to dust it off and put it to good use! If you don’t have a DSLR, these tips will work on any camera, even your smartphone.

IN-HOME FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS:

  • Turn out the lights. Open all the blinds/curtains. Is it a bright sunny day? You might want to wait for a time of day that the light is softer, or add sheer curtains to soften any harsh rays. Is it a dark, cloudy day? Get your family and kids closer to the window, as even the smallest pockets of natural light can lend to beautiful photos and a nice falloff of shadows.

  • Stage the perfect backdrop. If the parents’ bed is close to the window, this is a great spot for some sweet, cuddly photos with your kids. If not the bed, maybe it’s the couch. Or, try creating a cozy “pillow den” of blankets and throw pillows on the floor by the window that gives you the best light.

  • White will make everything brighter. A white or light coloured background is usually the best way to get the “bright and airy” look, so throw a white duvet on that bed or add light tones to any spot you use. Dressing in white, light neutrals, or pastels, will also help brighten up your photos.

  • Declutter for a simple backdrop. It’s amazing the different it can make to simply remove objects from side tables, visible plugs, and even lamps or décor items that stick out like a sore thumb in your photos. Bright or shiny objects in the background will be especially distracting. Less is more!

  • Face everyone to the window at a 45 degree angle. This will ensure everyone’s faces are illuminated in a flattering way.Facing away from the window can create some lovely glowy backlighting or a silhouette, but this is not recommended unless you’re familiar with your camera’s manual exposure. If you give this a go, try using a large white board or sheet to bounce light back up onto you.

  • Shoot downward. If you have a tripod, jack it up high just above eye level, and point it slightly downward on the family. If not, try using a bookshelf or tall stack of books on a side table, using an object in front of your phone to lean it downward.

  • Avoid the selfie face. Ever notice your stretched out cheek or chin in those closeup selfies on your phone? Believe it or not, you’re much more photogenic than that! The camera phone is a “wide angle” lens, not really made for closeup portraits. To avoid this with your phone, get your subjects centered in the frame. Try zooming in a little bit as well, before taking the photo. If you have a DSLR, use the longest focal length you have, which on many kit lenses (the lens that comes with your camera) is about 55mm.

  • “Blur out” your background. Most smartphones nowadays can achieve this with the new portrait mode, and many consumer DSLRs also have this function. If you’re savvy with your DSLR, set your aperture to f/3.2-f4. With these settings, note that a blurry background can also mean blurry faces. Get all family members within the same focal plane by getting really close together, and positioning yourselves side-by-side, rather than in front of one another. Having one person just a few inches behind the others will make them out of focus.

  • Get snuggly! Avoid those awkwardly staged photos ala when Aunt Susan used to line you up in front of the fireplace and say cheese. Classic hilarious family photo, yes, but not necessarily a contender for your family photo wall! Avoid this by snuggling as close as you can to one another, wrapping your arms around each other, and creating a “triangle” so your heads are all close together.

  • Have fun with it. For kids, this could mean a tickle attack, a group hug, or making a series of tooting sounds and blaming the kids enthusiastically while the self timer goes off. Real smiles are always the best smiles! If your camera has this function, set it to a “burst” of photos, so if you’re all moving around you’ll have a chance at one or two of the photos looking good.

  • Leave the rest to the pros. These tips will get you off the a great start, and some online tutorials on using manual mode on your camera, lighting, and styling your family photos will get you even better results. However, professional photographers have honed their craft for years, and will be able to best stage the scene and guide you to achieve standout photos. Not to mention, you’ll get to enjoy the process more, and be more present in your own family photos. When looking for a photographer, find one with a solid Health & Safety Plan, years of experience in their niche, and for newborns always hire a professional with newborn posing experience.

Feel free to reach out to me anytime for more tips and tricks! Kim Forrester Photography is a full service mobile studio, specializing in traveling to families’ homes for artistic storytelling images of their newborns, babies and kids. All of my newborn photo shoots include family photos, as well as professional, timeless poses of your baby.

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