Living and Loving staff
4 minute read
3 Jun 2020
10:00 am

5 tips to capture the perfect family portraits during lockdown

Living and Loving staff

Capture your family’s unique lockdown stories with these photography tips and tricks from family photographer Helen Bartlett.

Photo Credit: Helen Bartlett

Helen provides guidance on the memories you’ll want to capture to illustrate your family’s unique lockdown. Her tips and tricks encourage the experimentation of new styles and angles with the intention to create something you can look back on as a memory that bonded you as a family in years from now.

First, find your story

“I believe beauty is in the normal every day. The most important thing when looking to telling your lockdown story is capturing those ‘taken-for-granted’ moments that might not have been so apparent a couple of months ago. For example, the whole house staying in pyjamas throughout the day, a quarantine movie night or simply the everyday conversations between family members. Really think about what ‘norm’ you’d like to capture and memories you’d like to keep.

No matter how boring you think these moments are, there are plenty of new techniques you can use such as adjusting composition, using a different lens or experimenting with editing styles, to make your portraiture stand out.”

Get everyone involved

“Setting up a tripod in a communal area of the home, such as the dining table, sofa area or kitchen is a great way to catch the small and subtle stories throughout the day. As a photographer, I know we can sometimes be camera shy – but don’t be! Set the camera on self-timer and play around and see how this changes your photography style. It might just teach you something new about how to interact with your subjects in the future.”

Test new styles

“Shooting styles shouldn’t be underestimated when trying to portray a compelling story. For me, that means shooting in black and white. I love the way black and white cuts through the distracting colour noise to focus on the action in the image, and the emotions and relationships between the people in the picture.

During lockdown this is the perfect time to experiment with your photography and find new ways to work. You could try shooting in black and white or change the way you use your equipment. Do you tend to use a wide-angle lens or embrace close ups with a strong bokeh effect? Try doing the opposite.

Can you get down to a low level and tell your isolation stories from the perspective of a child, or even a pet? An articulating back screen, like that on the Canon EOS R camera, makes this much easier as you can take pictures in places and from angles you wouldn’t normally see (or fit!). Combine this with a small aperture such as f/1.2 and it’s possible to create some fantastic images. Be creative, find a different approach and have fun.”

Lockdown family portrait tips - Helen Bartlett

Photo Credit: Helen Bartlett

Photography has evolved – embrace candid

“If you think back to your own childhood, almost everyone had a portrait taken in a studio that was conservative and formal. Since then, photography has adopted trends towards more natural, informal styles. By taking a candid approach to photography there’s a whole host of opportunities. Think about your child’s favourite part of the day – is it jumping on the bed after bath time or the way they sneak in a quick cartoon before home-schooling starts?

You could even try to take a picture that shows the kids video calling with their grandparents – the frames within frames of the screens will provide a fun compositional challenge and the resulting images will be ones they can look at and talk about in years to come.”

Print your photos and create a collage

“Today, it’s so easy to digitally store your photos and forget about them until someone asks to see them. While at home in lockdown, now is a good time to print your portraits to see you how you progress as a photographer over time. It’s also a great time for the family to get together and create a collage with the images taken, whether that’s for the wall in your home or to store away as a personal memory that documents the historic moment we’re living through.

We often overlook the impact a printed photograph can have, and the wonderful memories associated with them. I’ll look at the photos my Dad took of me and my siblings and then I’ll call my brother for a chat. I think if you can produce a photo that makes someone in your family pick up the phone when they’re 40 and say, “Let’s all meet up”, then that’s pretty powerful.”


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