Looking to Find Ways to Take the Best Family Selfie to Make Sure You Capture Those Precious Holiday Moments? Here Are Some Tips from A Professional Photographer.
Guest Post by Max Therry. Edited by Family Globetrotters.
Max Therry is an architecture student who is fond of photography and aspires to become a professional photographer. He is also working on his photography blog, Photo Geeky about photo editing, modern photo trends, and inspiration.
In an era of smartphones that take excellent photos through to lightweight hand held GoPro we are now much better equipped to take group selfies or family wefies. Families are travelling more with their children of all ages and are also becoming much more adventurous on their expeditions Taking the best family selfies are increasing in popularity in a bid to capture social media worthy images.
How do you get the best-looking family wefie photos? If you’re already well versed in taking selfies, its not a difficult transition to incorporate your skills into a wefie shot. If you’re however a self-professed dud at taking photos of yourself (Amy falls in this category!) these pro photographer’s hacks will help you ensure your photos are the very best they can be!
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #1
Lighting. Lighting can make or break a photo, and group shots are no exception. Bright sunlight is not your friend where photography is concerned, and you need to be looking for somewhere that is shaded, but still has plenty of natural light to illuminate your images.
If you are inside, find a large window that doesn’t get direct sunlight, and get everyone to face it. If you are outside, try to find shade in the lee of a building or under a large sunshade. The inside of cars, trains and buses can also give good lighting, as long as you are not in the glare of the sun.
If you can, try to take your wefies in the first hour after sunrise, or the hour before sunset. Photographers call this ‘the golden hour’, and you don’t need to find shade at those times, as the sun casts a soft, mellow light that won’t dazzle or make your images look awful. Quick tip: but don’t be tempted to use your phone flash or pop-up flash on a camera – it will do no good to your photo.
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #2
Selfie Sticks, Tripods, Gimbals & Timers. It will be difficult to get your whole family group in shot if you are shooting with a phone camera at arm’s length as you would for a selfie. But selfie sticks are a traveler’s friend! Light and small enough to carry around without it being a nuisance, it’s an essential piece of kit for when you want to whip out your phone and take a group shot. By extending it you should be able to fit a group in your shot when your arms just wouldn’t stretch that far!
With Bluetooth capabilities, these affordable selfie sticks allow one person to set up the shot whilst the other person is in charge of the clicker. Great for those who are a little uncoordinated and can’t do both things at once, especially when you have a baby in one arm and a screaming toddler on the other!
For those who only wish to use their mirrorless camera or even their DLSR, you might like to invest in a gimbal. Handheld 3-axis gimbals are used in stabilization systems designed to give the camera operator the independence of handheld shooting without camera vibration or shake. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to juggle the kids whilst they are constantly moving. Gimbals are also obviously available for smartphones and is definitely worth the investment as they are more stable and durable.
A sturdy but lightweight tripod is also an answer to this problem, and you would set it and your camera up so that the whole group is in shot. You will need to move the camera further away than normal to fit your whole family in, depending on how many of you there are. At Family Globetrotters we prefer a heavier tripod to support our DLSR and have a Manfrotto MKBFRTA4BK-BH Befree Advanced Travel Aluminum Tripod with 494 Ball Head (Twist Locks) – Black (HS Code: 4202 9280) Hah! What a mouthful but we absolutely cannot live without it. And yes, we lug it around with us when we travel. its just a matter of getting use to it being part of your everyday routine.
Using your camera or phone camera’s built-in timer is necessary for this to work. Most cameras have a two or 10-second timer option, and if you choose 10 seconds, this gives enough time for you to get back to the group and ready yourself for the shot. The small light weight tripods for smartphones with the bendable legs are not only small and easy to carry around, it is also super useful when you’re in a situation where you can’t balance a tripod on a flat surface.
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #3
Background. Before you set up to take your shot, do some thinking about choosing your background. Do you want a family wefie in front of a famous landmark or tourist attraction, down a quaint local street, at a café serving local cuisine, a street market, or on the beach?
Whatever location you choose, make sure you have a harmonious background for your shot. Before you press the shutter, make sure there is no rubbish or untidy items visible in the shot, and check to make sure that there aren’t lamp posts or tree branches directly behind anyone’s heads – it will look like they are ‘growing’ out of someone’s head when you look back at the shot later!
Sometimes however it’s just not so simple when the kids are just not cooperating. Do a quick scan around you before getting the children to pose so you minimise the time it takes to take the photo. You could even take a few quick selfies to see what the shot would look like and when you’re happy, the kids can jump in. Nothing worse than looking back later and regretting it.
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #4
Multiple Shots. In the age of digital images, take lots of shots to get the best out of your wefies. Change the angle of your shots, get everyone to change their poses etc. If you have lots of shots to choose from, it makes finding the best ones a lot easier.
Also make sure you take photos in both portrait and landscape or vertical and horizontal. It is the natural pre-disposition for us to take portrait photos only on the phone as that’s how we hold our device. Often a photo taken horizontally takes in a better view o the background and the surrounds.
The same applies for the camera. Most people only take images horizontally and forget to the turn the camera to get a portrait image. If you’re one to edit your images later and are social media conscious and need to crop the image, you’re always best to have both options available to you.
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #5
Editing. Once you return home, your wefies will benefit from a bit of post processing in image editing software. A little adjustment of color, contrast, exposure and sharpening will help your images look amazing. You can do it either on your desktop or just made some adjustments right in your phone – iPhone, for example, has quite many editing options. Some free apps you can try on the iPhone also include PS Express and Snapseed.
Desktop editors usually have some more advanced options like deleting the unwanted objects, retouching, denoising, lens correction etc. There are a lot of photo editors available on the market – from advanced and well-known editors like Photoshop or Lightroom to medium priced and easier to use image editors such as ON1 and Luminar. There are also free options like GIMP, which has been around for ages (however, some people may find its workspace too complicated). But if you plan to print some of your wefies or want to try to take a shot using a tripod and digital camera, learning some photo editing tricks can’t hurt!
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #6
iPhone Hacks. Most of us have an iPhone and here are some quick hacks that may be useful for you:
- Take the image with volume button if you require a firmer grip. As the iPhones become bigger, its harder to balance the phone whilst activating the camera button. This is a good alternative.
- Use the burst mode to take a series of photos. As you’re “bursting” you can slowly move the camera to get a few angles. This will also work when you hold down the volume button.
- Use the back camera for the family selfie rather than the traditional front camera. The advantage is your get a better distance shot and easier to incorporate your background. The disadvantage is that you can’t see the image you are taking so it may take a few goes. You take the photo by holding down the volume button.
- If you’re a serial Instagram poster and only want square images, change it all to square mode so you don’t need to edit images later.
- Always have your iPhone higher than your face. The worse kind of selfies are taken when the iPhone is below your face, forcing everyone to look down and get the dreaded double chin.
- If you have the High Dynamic Range (HDR) function on your iPhone, turn it on! It will give your images a higher depth of field and the colours are more vibrant.
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #7
Don’t Stand Too Close. It is our natural instinct to huddle close to each other when we take a family selfie. But the varying heights of the family members make it difficult to try and get everyone in the frame plus the background. Try standing apart from each other. Step back from the person taking the wefie as you form part of the background. It’s a better posing position and the image is then always just consumed by the people in the photo but also shows the destination you’re trying to capture.
We had so much fun in Paris. Check out our blog post 15 Things To Do In Paris for Teenagers.
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #8
Let the Kids Have a Go. Hannah takes a mean selfie. Kids of this generation grew up with devices in their hand and are much more well versed in taking photos of themselves. Apart from possibly getting a more well curated image, it’s a great way to get them involved. It also helps to mix up the composition of the poses as otherwise they all start to look the same.
BEST FAMILY SELFIE TIP #9
Don’t Be Too Serious! Wefies are about having fun; so don’t make it a life or death situation if someone isn’t posing the way you want them to. Try and get everyone relaxed and enjoying themselves. Some people hate having their photo taken, and it can be hard for them to look happy and relaxed, but you can help them by having them hold something or do something while you are taking the shot, so they don’t feel so self-conscious.
If it’s not working out the way you planned, don’t keep making everyone stand there while you take shot after shot, hoping it will all come good. Children in particular have a short attention span and will get bored just standing around. Take a break or move on to another location and try again.
One thing you will find with group shots is that it’s very hard to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time. Often someone is blinking, looking away or yawning at the moment you press the shutter! Give a clear countdown from 3 so that everyone is (hopefully) looking in the right direction at the same time, and it should help solve the issue.
Family vacations are magical times, and if you follow the advice in this article, you will be well on your way to creating the best family selfie images to keep the memories alive forever.
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