You don’t have to be out and about to capture beautiful photographs of your children. The homes we live in may not strike you as being particularly photogenic, but think about how many of your childhood memories revolve around the house you grew up in. It’s the ideal backdrop.
With that in mind, here are my top tips, techniques and gear recommendations for how to shoot beautiful family photography at home.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things.”
– Robert Brault
Look with a fresh pair of eyes
It’s easy to become blind to the spaces we spend most of our time in. We scroll through Instagram and see feeds of stunning images of beautiful cities around the world, wishing we lived somewhere so beautiful. Our everyday becomes so mundane we lose sight of the beauty in the places around us. Sometimes when things become too familiar, you have to look a little harder.
Family photography is a wonderful genre. Children grow up so fast and we don’t always notice day to day. One day we think “When did they get so big?” Photography allows us to capture precious moments that you’ll love today and that your children will love in years to come.
Tips for shooting family photography at home
For many of us, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis means a lot of time in isolation. Why not use that time to experiment and practice improving your family photography at home.
Here are some tips you can try to help you capture beautiful family photography at home:
Don’t aim for perfect, aim for real
Don’t get hung up on trying to pose perfect images. Instead, try and capture what’s happening naturally. Relaxed, informal images will give a much truer representation of the memories you’re capturing.
Capture everyday routine
Always be on the lookout for photographic opportunities. Don’t just look for special moments, but also try and document your everyday routine. Amongst the routine there are wonderful memories that deserve to be remembered.
Remember favorite toys
How many of us look back fondly on memories of our favorite toys as a child? By incorporating toys into your photographs you can not only remember what your child loved to play with the most, but also how it made them feel.
Natural light photography
When shooting photography in the home, try and make use of natural light wherever you can. A large window can produce beautiful soft light that can really make your photos pop.
Playing in the garden
If you’re lucky enough to have an outside space at home, make the most of it! If your children love to play in the garden then capture the adventures they get up to.
Capture precious moments
Shooting family photography at home doesn’t always mean capturing your everyday routine. Special occasions like birthdays, Christmas and halloween all offer their own unique photographic opportunities.
Think about composition
Although we’re concentrating on capturing natural, relaxed images, don’t forget to pay attention to composition. Consider whether there are new ways to look at your home, or new angles that can give a different perspective on what you’re shooting.
Incorporate the environment
Don’t forget to incorporate the surrounding environment into your shots. Sometimes stepping back and including more of the elements around the subject of your photograph can really help to give extra context to the story you’re capturing.
Make it fun
Finally, have fun! Don’t let your photography detract from the memories you’re trying to capture. Let the scene happen naturally and be ready to capture the moments as they happen. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful images that you’ll cherish for years to come.
What lenses are best for family photography at home?
When you’re taking photos in the home ideally you’ll want to shoot with a relatively fast lens. If you’re following the tips above you’ll be looking for nice pockets of natural light, but you’re still going to want to use a fairly wide aperture to avoid having to crank your ISO too high.
It doesn’t matter if you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus etc. It’s really the focal lengths and the aperture that are the important things here. Most manufacturers offer similar lenses.
I’m a Canon shooter so my go to lenses for shooting at home are below:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
I absolutely adore 50mm as a focal length—in fact, I’ve written previously about why every photographer should own a 50mm lens. My 50mm is the lens that stays on my camera most of the time, so I’m always ready to ‘grab and go.’ As a result, the majority of my photos taken at home are with this lens.
I love the 50mm focal length because it’s such a close match to the natural eye (on a full-frame camera). This means that when you look back at the images later, they’re more representative of your memory of that moment. It’s a perfect way to capture a memory in a photograph.
For this lens specifically, the f/1.2 aperture lets in a huge amount of light so I can shoot handheld in low-light and still get beautiful, sharp results without needing to compromise image quality by pushing the ISO too hard.
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM
Like I’ve said in my tips above, sometimes it’s great to incorporate more of the environment in your shots. For these kind of shots I tend to reach for my 35mm.
I’d love to own the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM, but for now I shoot on the non-L f/2 version and I have to say I absolutely love it. The build quality is superb (far better than my old EF 50mm f/1.4 lens) and optically it’s great. Plus, the built-in stabilization offers up to 4 stops of IS, which is wonderful for low light photography.
Remember, family photography is all about telling stories and having fun. I hope you’ve found the tips above useful and that they help you to capture your own story. I’d love to hear if you have any other tips—let me know in the comments below.
Stay safe x
About the author: Simon Wiffen is a Leeds based photographer specializing in family, lifestyle, portrait and commercial photography. You can see more of his work by visiting his website or following him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. This post was also published here.