When you are taking pictures of the family, be sure that they say something to the viewer. Instead of just snapping a picture when the urge hits, try to find shots that will show your family with some type of message. For example, if you have a baby, a good toothless grin will make any grandmother - not just your baby's - laugh. These pictures are great for showing off.
If you are taking formal pictures with your family, then you will want to make sure that everyone is dressed in coordinating outfits. That does not mean that the children all have to look like clones; in fact, the pictures will be better if they do not. It does, however, mean that you should make an effort to have everyone match. Perhaps you all wear jeans and a solid-colored shirt. Or you could all wear red somewhere in your outfit. You just do not want Susie to have on pastel plaids and pose next to Maggie, who is wearing polka dots in primary colors.
One of the trends in family photography, though, is to have less formal pictures. You still may have someone come out to take the pictures, but you will want them on your porch swing or a local gazebo instead of in a portrait studio. The same rules of coordination apply here. In fact, they are more important in less formal shots because the background can become distracting. The family needs to look like one unit for the picture.
If you are just snapping candid stills, though, remember to leave them at that. They should be candid! Do not ask everyone to pose at your son's birthday party. Sure, you can get a picture of Baby, Dad, and Grandpa and make sure they are all looking at the camera. The point is that you do not want all of your pictures to look as if you asked everyone to take a breather and smile for the camera.
Have you ever wondered why driver’s license photos are so awful? It is because of the posing. You will capture your family members as they actually look if you get them living life instead of standing and smiling. Posing is not natural, so it makes people unnecessarily stiff. Think back to your son's birthday party. If you get him blowing out his candles, being surprised by a gift, or running to give his favorite uncle a big hug, then you will get a much better image of who your son is.
Remember that you should not skimp on the film. If you are taking candid shots, then you will need to take more pictures for them to turn out well. Otherwise, you can end up with a bunch of pictures where people may look natural, but it is not flattering. Instead you should shoot rolls and rolls of film so that you will be able to pick and choose from the best of your pictures.
Taking family photos should be a fun experience. Do not stress about it and the pictures will turn out great - and so will the memories!
By Julia Mercer