My wonderful brother and sister in law just moved to Arizona and I had the privilege of staying with them, just a few days after they had moved in! We had little to work with, as the rest of their belongings were being shipped across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii. We really made this session simple and only used a bed, a sheet and a few white pillows for an in-home, lifestyle family photoshoot. Today I'm going to take you behind the scenes and give you some simple tips to get great photos in the home.
1. Don't over complicate things!
Sometimes it's so easy to get crazy with props, outfits, blankets, and accessories. I think some photos become more about all those extra things, rather than focusing on the people in the photo. I love keeping things simple, clean and natural.
2. If there is a baby, make sure the baby is warm and well fed - that applies to the other kids too!
Crankiness and crying bring red faces and a lot of wiggles. Having the baby fed before hand helps a lot; I also had small easy snacks close by for the kids. It felt more like jumping on the bed, having a snack and snuggling than a photoshoot. Happy kids = happy photos. Simple as that.
3. Allow for enough time to shoot and don't rush things.
I loved being able to spend some quality time with this cute family and not have to rush things. In almost all of my sessions that involve a newborn, we'll have to take little breaks for nursing, calming the baby, or even making sure the older siblings are cheerful and happy. If it feels rushed it will be stressful and the pictures will show it!
4. Let the family be natural; don't stage everything or over-pose (I might have made that phrase up, but it sounds good to me).
All I did for this shoot was tell them how to sit on the bed for the group shot. Everything else was candid and those are some of my favorite photos. Even if things get ugly with tears and meltdowns, it's okay to snap a few photos. Let them be their true every-day selves. It's real life.
5. Don't ever tell the kids to smile. Just make them laugh.
You know what I'm talking about. You say 'Okay, now SMILE!' and you get the world's most forced and irritated happy face. I steer clear of that. I tell them stories, make jokes and try to keep it light hearted. For these family shots, I played peek-a-boo behind the bathroom wall and that's all I needed to get happy expressions. It turned into a fun game for the girls. Okay, I might have done some really silly dancing as well; whatever it takes for million-dollar smiles, right??
6. Try and be discrete.
I love standing by, trying not to let the kids know I am taking pictures. If you are documenting more than directing, you can get really great moments and the kids aren't bugged that a big annoying camera is in their face. This was my favorite shot of the whole day; the littlest sister jealously looking on at the new center of attention. She is the cutest thing. I wanted to take her home with me.
7. Find the room that has the most natural-light.
Lighting is key to great photos. I always search for the best-lit room and let all that beautiful light flood in. If the master bedroom is dark, try moving to the living room if it has bigger windows. Shoot in different directions, towards the light source and letting the light fall on the subject. The quicker you learn about lighting and how to find good lighting, the better your pictures will be!
Practice taking lifestyle photos at home with your own kids or ask friends, if you'd like to take better family photos. What better place to shoot than where a family is most comfortable - in their own home.