Celebrity Photographer Shares Tips to Click the Best Family Photographs

From candid shots of the baby's first steps to an elegant planned family portrait, Amrita Samant of Mommy Shots shares how to capture warm, fuzzy moments for an eternity (even with a smartphone).

Arpita Kala
Creating gorgeous photographs with your family is more than just wearing your best outfits and setting the camera on self-timer. From planning the setup to making sure everyone is in the best mood, your perfectly-clicked family photographs are sure to serve as great memories. "Being the last of three kids, my parents got too busy and a tad bored with taking my pictures. So, there are tonnes of albums featuring my siblings in their childhood and just a handful of mine, sprinkled around these albums or the generic birthday albums. It's ironic that I now document the childhood of so many babies, making sure they have plenty of ways to reminisce about their early days with their parents," says Amrita Samant, photographer and founder of Mommy Shots. Here is what she had to say about making memories with your favourite DSLR or even smartphone: (Photos: Mommy Shots By Amrita)
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    Amrita adds, "I believe the feelings of family photographs and how they bring about warmth and fuzziness, are mutual with many, who are reading this article now. That's why I have decided to share some tips to keep in mind while shooting your family. These are tips that I have understood to be extremely powerful, sharp, and focused to remember while documenting your kids. And they can definitely be achieved with even a smartphone!"

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    In-Between moments
    "Yes I know, that we all love to capture the smiles, the laughter but sometimes that's not all there is to family photography. It's the moments in between these smiles, that is worth a billion. Moments where their cute little lips are pursed together trying to concentrate on fixing the toy, or when they pout because they didn't get what they want, etc. These descriptions themselves are enough to bring a smile to your face. These are the types of moments you want to capture and laugh about with your family ten years down the road."

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    Face, eyes, nose, lips, everything!
    "I often see parents trying to get pictures of their little one's face alone or images that feel more like selfies, with only their faces in view. While I love filling the entire frame with their adorable faces, that is so much more we can take. For example, I love to capture those moments where the little ones grab onto their parents' hands tightly, or when they give a kiss on their parent's face. In such instances, I focus just on the hands or on their lips, which results in adorable pictures."

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    Emotions > Technicality
    "Recently, I met a friend, who talked to me about how she wasn't happy with certain pictures she took of her little one because they were blurred. When I looked at the pictures, all I could see was the mischievous face of her little one, filled with joy. Yes, these pictures may not be perfect, but look beyond the imperfection, where a beautiful memory is awaiting you."

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    Candid (or 'plandid') vs Posed
    "I am a sucker for candid images. You may get the picture-perfect shot of your family in a posed environment, but ten years down the road, all you are going to remember is the mad rush your family went through to get ready. So, try stepping away from posed shots, and instead, start taking pictures of your family doing their everyday activities or what they truly love. Let them be themselves, document the different stages of their life. Document their love for their toys, their love for the mess, and show your love for your family."

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    Become a Kid
    "Take a deep breath and create havoc. Let go of yourself, and become one with your children. Run around with them, play tag or peekaboo with them, tickle them till they yell stop (or don’t), you get the drift. These evoke true joy and bring out the forgone innocence in everyone."

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    Lighting is your one true friend
    "Light can honestly make or break a picture. So, make sure there is ample natural light, wherever you are taking a picture. If you are taking pictures indoors, ensure your family is in the vicinity of a big window. And if you are outdoors, with the sun glaring at you, don't worry. Just take your pictures near a shaded area or under a tree. The trees and shaded areas will act as your diffuser. Another creative idea is to play around with light patterns caused by your drapes or any light-shapers (a.k.a even a vegetable grater with holes will help create light patterns) in your house."

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    Study your environment
    "This will help you decide your depth of field. That is, do you want your background in focus or not. If your backdrop looks crowded and noisy, then use bokeh mode on your phone. This will help you blur out your backdrop, essentially allowing your family to be the centre of focus. Side note, try not to cut out anybody's body part in an attempt to avoid certain elements in the backdrop. The image will not look cohesive, then."

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    Posing ideas
    "My most favourite posing idea is to put one member of the family in the limelight. That is, have all members of the family looking at one person endearingly or while laughing. The awkward staring will result in a fit of laughter, giving way to a picture-perfect moment. You can even go in for a bear hug and have the whole family huddle together in front of the camera. That will give you some cosy looking moments. Another favourite of mine is catching family members off-guard, allowing you to capture some uniquely shocked faces. And my favourite one is to fill everyone (except one family member) in on a plan to tickle the odd one out at the count of three. This tickle fest brings out lots of unexpected reactions and movement."

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    Be prepared
    "Especially if you have teenagers in the family, chances are they will be very reluctant to join in the pictures or pose the way you want them to. So, come prepared with an army of activities they will enjoy. And be ready for that one or two instances where they slip out a smile of laughter. Sometimes even that is too much to ask from teenagers. Don't force them and let them be themselves. As for the younger ones, it's a battle of wits. Engage and play with them, without hyping them up too much. If you excite them too much, either you will get too tired or they will get tired faster than usual." 

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    Understanding kids
    "I know kids are adorable and it's hard to stop ourselves from taking their pictures. But they are children and they have a smaller energy threshold. It's best if you scheduled these shoots during their playtime (right after a good nap and a meal). Don't get greedy, if you see them yawning or looking tired, take a break or just stop. You can take more the next day. That's the best part of taking your family pictures, you get to document them every day!

    Another thing to keep in mind is that kids have a mind of their own and won’t follow your plan (especially moms/dads, they will take you for granted and won’t listen as much as they would to a stranger). So, be prepared to have a tonne of tricks to elicit the reactions you want for these photographs."

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    Colour palette
    "If you are documenting fresh memories that go into an album or on your gallery wall, make sure to pay some attention to the colours everyone is wearing. My guideline is to always stick to light solid colours, avoiding bright neon shades and printed fabrics as much as possible. Especially when you have tiny babies in the frame. Our eyes tend to go straight to the brightest parts of the image."


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