Family Portrait Time? Be Prepared to Work Fast

It's that time of year when some families take a deep breath and decide to spend time together. If you're the photographer for these brave souls, then you'll probably find yourself in a portrait situation or two. My advice: be prepared to work fast.

Family Portrait Family portrait with child. You're not going to have much time when little ones are involved. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.

I usually have a fair amount of equipment on hand for family portraits. And I rarely get to use any of it. For this image, I had a tripod-mounted Canon 5D Mark II with my trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. We shot in the morning light while everyone was fresh and alert. I scouted three spots and used them all.

When working quickly, look for areas with naturally diffused light. Keep your shutter speed high (1/250th or so) and your aperture fairly wide. Make sure everyone is in focus. The fast shutter speed helps with wiggly children. Shoot in burst mode.

Have fun! Your cheerful attitude will help mom and dad stay relaxed. Remember, people don't like being in front of the camera in the first place, especially holding a sack full of cats. Work quickly and get your subjects on their way.

And finally, trust that if you do all of this, you'll get the shot.

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