Family Photos

The Necessity of Connection

At HP Studios, we believe that in life, and especially photography, it's all about connecting.

     With summer coming to a close and Halloween right around the corner, its safe to say that fall is here. It's the time of year for warm sweaters, chilly gusts of wind, and bundling up with your closest loved ones.

The Kirby family

The Kirby family

     So if you're a parent or spouse seeking a photographer, or a photographer yourself looking for tips on how to capture that authentic affectionate look with family or couples, there should be a little something for everyone.

     Having been in the photography business for over ten years, it's always nice to reminisce on humble beginnings, even before I picked up a camera myself. Looking through photos my mom had of us when we were kids (I'm sure lots of you have photos just like this), they tell you to sit near each other, look right into camera, and smile. I distinctly remember this look as very traditional, and taking them was an absolute bore for most kids. Although mom, of course, loves them because she can see our faces all at once. But now that I'm taking photos of younger families and their kids, I love it when we get away from the more harsh posed look and get to have more fun with the shoot. The kids definitely enjoy a more interactive environment which can make for a more natural vibe and provide variety in your photos. Here are a few tips I've gathered to hopefully help out any potential family photographers out there.

Let kids be kids.

It makes for fantastic photos and a great day out!


  1.      If the kids are in a good mood, talk with them and have them help you out! Show them your camera up close and that it's not scary. Even help them take photos of their parents or siblings.
  2.      Let them explore. You can get some amazing shots of kids climbing around and discovering new things. Plan to move a lot yourself, and photographers, have a lens like a 24-70mm handy. A must-have for fast kiddos, and getting your composition just right. 
  3.      Throw out some suggestions of games to play, like: Telephone, EyeSpy, and even a simple staring contest at times can be gold. 


     As for shooting more romantic photos with just couples, the direction of the shoot changes a bit from the previous setup. Since, as a photographer, you'll be photographing two people instead of a family, you might want to bring a tighter lens, such as a 70-200mm, to really capture the small details like handholding, kisses on the cheek, in-the-moment laughs or looks. Also, you do want to stay interactive with your subjects, however, try different talking points. Ask them about when they met, how long they've been together, and from there try and pick up on any other positive conversational topics to keep the focus on them. Remember, the memory of the fun they had matters just as much as the quality of your work.

     All in all, when taking family or couples portraits, the key is to capture their connection and let your pictures tell the story. And as long as you keep a sharp mind, finger on the shutter release, and the right equipment for the job, all there is to do is enjoy the shoot!

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Tips from the Studio

Portraits for Young Families


     When shooting portraits for families with smaller children, the first and definitely most important rule for organically capturing that youthful glow, is also a simple one: have fun! The best way to get that genuine, goofy laugh or toothy grin from kids is to let them enjoy the shoot! Child-friendly environments like parks and beaches, which are generally open, scenic areas with plenty space to bounce around, along with a high-energy and interactive photographer, can make all the difference between a pouty portrait and a smiling snapshot.


     Try a more relaxed style shoot! Accepting a more candid, or casual and natural, outlook on family shoots and really taking a secondary role with directing the session allows not only the kids, but the parents as well, to get in their comfort zone, which makes for a more authentic look and enjoyable experience.


     Although location, time of day, and the length of the session are all variables that factor into every shoot and how often you’ll have to adjust, when taking pictures with little ones, a high shutter speed is essential for catching those in-the-moment smiles and giggles that truly bring out the look parents want. Setting a relatively higher speed to your camera’s shutter allows it to capture the light information faster, but will also result in a darker photo, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your ISO and and aperture.


     Timing is key when working with a high shutter speed and rambunctious subjects, so make an effort to highlight any sentimental interactions, unique details, and all the laughs and goofiness. Also, be sure to consider all your light sources and take advantage of softer light for a less sharp contrast.


     As for any specific gear that we recommend for a family shoot, a 24-70mm or 24-105mm lens will definitely be the first choice. Since they both give such a wide range, letting you zoom in and out from a further distance, they help save time switching lenses since the session will be much more active.


     Get the parents involved! Especially when you need a more cooperative shot, including mom or dad to help direct can not only result in that perfect picture you wanted, but improves the overall experience, allowing everyone to contribute in a fun way.


     Last but not least, and this goes for any photo session, try and get some behind the scenes! If you have the equipment, a little video of the shoot can make the experience all the more memorable.

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