How To Take Amazing Portraits Of Family & Friends

February is all about your loved ones and showing your family and friends how much they mean to you. A lovely family portrait or photos of your closest friends will be cherished for many years to come and can make a great gift or memento.

As a photographer, shooting portraits is incredibly rewarding but daunting if you’ve never done them before. Photography workshops for children can teach the basic skills and techniques you need to learn photography for portraits and capture some really awesome shots.

If you want to get into portrait or fashion photography, it is great to practice portrait shots with your family and friends first, to get your skills perfected and discover what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you’ve got to grips with taking portraits, you can begin to work with other families and groups to offer wonderful photos to others.

Holding a portraiture photoshoot should be fun for everyone involved. It should be exciting for you as you learn photography skills, and enjoyable for the family and friends you are photographing as they become your models. Some of the best online photography courses can teach you the skills you need to capture beautiful portraits every time. There are also a few tips you should remember to make sure your families and friends portraits result in photos you are really proud of.

Get Your Settings Right

The aperture and exposure settings of your camera make a big difference in how your portraits end up. Your camera’s metering system has a big impact on your photography as it manages how much light should enter to give your image the correct exposure.

In most cases, as you learn photography, you will see your camera is good at getting this right, but sometimes it can make mistakes. When you shoot a portrait, any light skin tones can result in your camera underexposing the shot. This can be easily fixed by using your camera’s exposure compensation settings. Try dialling up the exposure gradually to get the lightness of your subjects faces just right.

When shooting portraits, it is vital to get aperture right. The idea is usually to get the background behind your family or friends slightly blurred while they are in full focus to make them stand out better. If you shoot in aperture priority mode to control the depth of field, then your camera should set the shutter speed for a correct exposure. Photography workshops for children like the Beautiful Brighton course will help you to learn how your camera mechanics work.

Lillie’s Top Tips: If you are photographing one or two people then use the portrait setting on your camera or small aperture like f/5.6 to f/8. The more people you have in the shot, then the bigger aperture you will need to make sure they are all in focus.

Lighting Is Key

Having the correct lighting can really make a photograph pop, and poor lighting can make a photograph look dull and poor quality. Portraits are no different, and getting the lighting correct will be the difference between your family portraits being a success or not.

Think about where your light is in respect to your subjects, the best online photography courses will teach you to place lighting behind your camera, so the person’s face is lit up nicely. If this isn’t possible then use your flash to light up your subject well, or if you have a reflector available then try using this to bounce the light onto your subjects.

Lillie’s Top Tips: For a more studio looking portrait, try using a plain coloured background and ask your subject to sit near a bright window or other bright source of light and pose for you! Valentines day is coming up so why not theme it around LOVE?

Think about the time of day when you are planning a photo shoot. The ideal time for outdoor portrait shots is in the evening, about an hour before dusk because the sun is low and doesn’t cause harsh overhead light. If shooting in the evening isn’t possible and it is a really sunny day, then photograph your family and friends in the shade.

Make sure both your subjects and the background are out of direct sunlight. Having bright areas in the background will take attention away from the family, which is the last thing you want!

Lillie’s Top Tips: The best way to make your subjects really dazzle is to get light into their eyes to make them sparkle and stand out. Experiment with different lighting to see what works best. Generally, if you can’t see the light source reflected in your subjects’ eyes, then there is not enough light on their faces.

Choose Your Lenses Appropriately

Consider carefully which lenses you should take with you on a family portrait session. In most cases, using several lenses throughout a portrait session will give you a variety of images and allow you to deal with a range of most locations.

A popular choice for portrait shots is an 85mm lens, but a zoom lens like a 24-70mm can give you a lot of flexibility in your images. Choosing a wide lens like a 35mm can help you to set the scene for your photoshoot.

Here is an example of how a person’s portrait changes depending on which focal length is used, and the position from where the photograph was taken.

First two images are with the photographer standing in the same place:

Portrait taken at 18 mm, roughly 2m away from the subject

Portrait taken at 55mm, roughly 2m away from the subject








Portrait taken at 18mm (zoomed OUT), and WALKING CLOSER to the subject. Photo taken from 0.5m away from the subject

The photographer walked closer to the subject for the third image – do you see how much bigger Lillie’s head looks?!

Lillie’s Top Tips: Don’t worry if you don’t have access to various different lenses, experiment with your zoom settings on the lenses you do have and see what kind of effects you can create.

Get Outside And Have Fun!

The location of your photoshoot will have a huge impact on not only the final images but the whole tone of your shoot. Look for a lovely location with some pretty scenery to take the portrait shots, go out on a country walk with your family or find a pretty garden setting. Anywhere outside is really best for portraits as it creates natural lighting and a nice environment.

Once you’ve found the perfect location and you are ready to start snapping, remember not to take it all too seriously.

Lillie’s Top Tips: A portrait session should be fun, so try to create a few funny shots, especially if your subject’s energy seems to be fading. If children are involved in the shoot, then make sure you keep them having fun and make it a bit of a game for them. Try using a faster shutter speed and capturing them running or jumping!

When you learn photography, you might go on various photography workshops for children such as Street Photography, and it is important to combine the skills you learn during these courses with real-life experience.

Lillie’s Top Tips: Always try to choose a backdrop that is slightly darker than the subjects for your photograph. This will help them to stand out against the background and create a really striking image.