Tips for Photographing a Family Day Out
As a photographer, there are times when taking pictures provides a great personal reward. Capturing images on a family outing where everyone is having fun is just one of those times. The pure joy that comes through in the pictures, makes you happy when you look back upon those images; truly capturing memories and the moments in our lives.
Recently, our area was blanketed with a several inches of snow, which is a fairly rare occasion. It provided an opportunity to get out and enjoy a family sledding day. Photographing the kids in action, led to some great shots and I would like to share some tips for capturing moments such as these. And while this outing was a day in the snow, the tips are applicable to capturing family fun any day of the year.
Get close to the action. On this day, that meant getting at bottom of the hill to catch the action shots as the kids came sledding down the slope. In several instances that led to capturing the kids totally airborne on their sled. And oh... the joy on their faces!
To ensure you catch the right moments, pan with action following the subjects in your viewfinder and shoot, shoot, shoot! Also choose a high shutter speed if your camera provides you that option. If your camera is totally automatic and provides a choice for a type of scene, try a setting for sports or action shots. Check your images, early. Nothing is more disappointing than to look at all of your pictures after an outing, only to discover something went terribly wrong with the exposure or shutter speed. In challenging situations, it is especially important to check your images you have taken early in the day. Snow and beach scenes can sometimes cause your camera to over compensate. Many automatic cameras also have settings for snow, so give that a try. Take a moment to take some test shots or check your first few images and adjust your settings if necessary.
Take lots of pictures. When your subjects are in fast action, take lots of pictures. Again if your camera provides an option, set it to a rapid fire mode. With today’s digital cameras it is so easy to take lots of pictures and then edit and keep just the great shots later. While the action is going, taking several images in a series may just capture that one ‘great’ shot.
Capture the quiet moments too. In addition to action shots on a day like this, there are also lots of opportunity to capture the quieter moments. This may be kids making snow angels, resting in between sledding runs or enjoying a cup of hot cocoa when the day is done. Kids having fun, have a way of expressing the joy of the day in their facial expressions, even when they are not careening down a hill.
Tell a story. In addition to capturing single shots of the activity, look for opportunities to take series of images that tell a story. For example, in this outing my son-in-law Wayne made sure that our granddaughter, Sage could enjoy the sledding action as well. He made sure she was safe by sledding with her and then trudged up the hill with her in tow on the sled. I am sure someday, Sage will look back fondly at this father-daughter experience and the pictures will help to preserve that memory.
Mind your manners. After the day is done, it is great to share the pictures. And as popular as it is to share photos on social media, it seems far too common to see examples where individuals have forgotten some simple rules of etiquette. Be kind when posting to social media and make sure the pictures you post of individuals show them in a good way and you are thoughtful of the impact on others. If a picture is a little too humorous or questionable of whether that person would like the image posted for the world to see... simply ask them first before posting. Also, if you post images of a group day make sure everyone is included in the posts. Do not post a series of pictures where only one or two of the individuals are left out. If you simply forgot to take pictures of every person, select just a few pictures to post on social media so it does not appear exclusionary. It is always fun to share our images with the world, but just remember to be considerate of others when doing so.
Remember to join the fun. Lastly, remember to put the camera down at some point and join in on the fun. It is far too easy as a photographer to forget to do this. The pictures I have taken over the years of our family life are some of my most treasured possessions. But over the years, I have realized many times that I am the invisible participant in some of our family events, since I was behind the camera. Capturing the moments in our lives with photography is rewarding, but experiencing those moments ourselves is even more fulfilling.