How to Get Great Family Holiday Snaps

By Geoff Harris

5 Tips for Posing Family Beach Vacation Portraits

portraits, portraiture, beach, holiday, vaction, family, Posing, family, composition, rules, eye contact, location, posing, guide, planning, tips

Many of us will have some embarrassing/funny memories of dad or mum trying to take a family portrait for posterity, particularly when we were teenagers. As if it isn't annoying enough to have to pose for your parents when you are 16, if the parents are having trouble getting the camera to do what they want, it can be an exercise in frustration for all concerned.

With younger kids and babies, trying to get them to stay still or keep eye contact can be a pain, too. To make the posing and execution of family portraits easier, here are some practical tips to try today.

1) Prepare in advance

portraits, portraiture, beach, holiday, vaction, family, Posing, family, composition, rules, eye contact, location, posing, guide, planning, tips

Plan your pose and if using a self timer, do a practice run so everyone knows their position

If you are planning al family portrait, maybe with off-camera flash, you need to practice beforehand. The time to work out how to use your equipment is NOT just before the shoot, and the same goes for self timers. A good tip is practice with just one family member as you can use this to gauge the effect of different lighting technique and flash angles, without simultaneously having to placate a stroppy teen or bored spouse.

Then plan your pose and if using a self timer do a practice run so everyone knows their position. When you are set up and confident with your gear, THEN is the time to do the shoot.

2) Study basic posing guides


The creator of this poses guide is Kaspars Grinvalds. He is the author of Posing App. You can download the application for your Apple devices here & Android devices here

Posing models is an art in itself, but there are some simple techniques to try, many of which are common sense. Avoiding chopping off the tops of heads, or feet or hands, and encourage your family members to stand fairly close to each other, with taller members at the back so everyone is visible. Avoid shooting people from low down as it can make them look quite bulky and imposing, and get people to relax and straighten their necks and shoulders. Telling a joke or including a family pet can often make everyone more relaxed, and count down (even when using a self timer) so everyone looks at the camera at the same time.

3) Use props Or New Locations

Kathleen Weibel Photography
We love these beach pics! By Kathleen Weibel
1. The right time of day - early morning or dusk - makes for the best lighting for pics and
2. it's the beach, duh!

With younger children, the biggest challenge is keeping them happy and interested. Employing favourite toys, props or new exciting locations like the beach, can be a great way of getting them to relax and play, which yields some lovely spontaneous images. Bring along the right toys or props and kids will forget you are there. While teenagers are unlikely to want to have anything to do with props, try suggesting they wear some new clothes they are particularly proud of, or offer to also do some some shots for their social media profiles!

4) Try to keep eye contact

portraits, portraiture, beach, holiday, vaction, family, Posing, family, composition, rules, eye contact, location, posing, guide, planning, tips
With very young children, trying to maintain their eye contact can be tricky. While you don't need EVERY shot to have them staring down at you, eye contact can obviously make for a more powerful portrait. Maybe ask a friend or relative who the child knows to stand directly behind you and try to attract the child's attention. Again, waving a toy can bring their attention back to you.

5) Don't forget the rules of composition

Kelsy Nielson Photography
Posing your group is one thing, but don't then spoil the image by allowing distractions into the background or foreground. If you can't avoid this – say when you are outdoors on holiday – try using a very wide aperture to blur out background distractions while keeping the subject sharp.

When shooting at wide apertures, carefully set the autofocus points on the eyes to ensure the shots are sharp. Placing your subjects off-centre can make for more pleasing compositions, too, and religiously try to avoid distracting backgrounds.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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