10 family portrait photography mistakes every photographer makes

Family photo ideas: make a striking family portrait from individual faces in profile

Family portrait photography mistake 03: Not enough light

Understanding Exposure Compensation: too dark

One of the problems with shooting at this time of year in the northern hemisphere – where we’re based – is that light levels are comparatively low.

Window-light photography can look superb, especially portraits, but if you’ve got a large group it’s likely to be difficult to get everyone nicely illuminated.

SEE MORE: 3 stupidly simple lighting techniques that will transform your family portraits

So why not combine your shoot with an afternoon walk? Get everyone wrapped up snug and warm and head out to the local park or recreation ground.

There’s much more light outside and provided you pick an over-cast day, there should be good, even illumination.

Alternatively, if you want to shoot at home, try pushing up your camera’s sensitivity and use a flashgun on two with the light bouncing of a white ceiling or wall to help spread it out and give soft, even coverage.

If you don’t have a white ceiling or wall invest in a diffuser or softbox for your flashgun.


Photography lighting: take control of everything from natural light to off-camera flash
Studio Lighting: 4 seriously simple lighting techniques to try at home
Flash photography tips: external flash techniques anyone can understand
Free portrait lighting cheat sheet


Family portrait photography mistake 04: Glaring glasses

9 secrets to using a tripod like a pro: use a remote shutter release

Glasses can pose problems in portraits because they reflect light and suffer from glare.

If a member of your family normally wears glasses, asking them to take them off means making them look very different in the photos.

A polarising filter over the lens and correctly rotated can cutout the glare, but it will also reduce the amount of light entering the lens and you’ll have to adjust the exposure accordingly.

Alternatively, move around until you find an angle to shoot from that avoids the glare. It may take time, but it’s usually possible.


54 Portrait Ideas: free downloadable posing guide
Master your home photo studio: settings, setup, accessories explained
Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits
17 posing tips and in-camera slimming tricks for shooting curvy models