6 ways to take better photos at family events

Family photo
Photo by Volt Collection/Shutterstock.com

Family gatherings are something we all want to memorialize in photos, but it’s not always easy to capture your favourite moments. It’s hard to round everyone up once the party has started, and even harder to get sharp candids once people hit the dance floor. But, with some tried-and-true professional photography tricks, and a little creativity, you can ensure that you capture a variety of beautiful shots at your next family get-together.

1. Take the big group shots early in the day

This wedding photographer rule should be applied to all birthdays, anniversaries, and family reunions. You’ll be able to ensure everyone is present, and the shots that take the most setup and consideration (tripod, lighting, wide angle lens etc.) are out of the way early. So, before the drinks start flowing—but after everyone has had a chance to say hello—get the group to pose for one big photo. You won’t have to herd friends or relatives during the middle of festivities, which is good because that’s like trying to herd kittens. To make things even easier, use your EOS remote through the Canon Connect app to shoot remotely so you won’t have to worry about the 10-second delay!

2. Set up a photo booth

Don’t want to be the only one responsible for taking photos all night? Then setup a photo booth and let partygoers take some shots too. You’ll need a DSLR camera, a tripod, a backdrop of your design, and a light. You can setup a remote shutter release, or let guests know that they can use the Canon app to control the camera and take photos of one another—just make sure you check in now again to make sure the settings are still optimal. Want to amp up the fun? Add in some props or cardboard speech bubbles and let people create their own wacky scenes. It’s a great way to get some more interesting shots of everyone having fun.

3. Work in shifts

Even with a photo booth, you may still want to roam around and snap a couple of candid shots. If you don’t want to be stuck as the only photographer all night try to rope a couple of friends or family members into taking photos in shifts. You can pass the camera around, which means everyone gets a chance to celebrate.

Canon’s EOS cameras come with super easy-to-use automatic settings, so your fellow party photographers don’t have to be DLSR experts to get good shots. The simple controls let you switch from action shots, to beautiful portraits, to great night shots with the turn of a dial. More photographers will get you more varied shots—just make sure you flip through the other photographers’ work so there isn’t too much repetition.

4. Get the kids involved

Kids these days are obsessed with photographing everything and putting it online, so why not recruit them as party photographers? You can set some up on iPhones or iPads, and then get the rest going on your DSLR. You might get some unique shots (kids are creative!) and you’ll also get more photos of the children doing their own thing. Plus, with most Canon cameras’ WiFi capabilities, the kids can upload the images they take instantly. All you have to do is show them how to use the camera—and ensure they keep the neck strap on at all times.

5. Keep an eye on lighting

You can avoid blurry dance floor shots and deer-in-the-headlights looks by keeping an eye on how the lighting changes over the course of the night. While you can try to get a bunch of shots early on when there’s more natural light, it may be easier to use a camera that takes great shots in dim lighting–like Canon’s EOS Rebel T5i. You can use Canon’s Scene Intelligent Auto Mode, which was specially designed to help take sharper images when shooting at night, to avoid blurriness. Another idea is to rent (or buy) a flash diffuser to soften the look of images taken with your flash on.

6. Take detail shots earlier in the day/evening

If you want to capture things like the cake, someone’s outfit, or the beautiful space you’re celebrating in, make sure to take the photos before the celebration gets underway. You’ll be adding context to your photos and highlighting someone’s hard work, and taking it’s also a great opportunity to set up your camera for the particular needs of the day (aperture speed, lighting, etc.). Making a point of getting to the party a little early also lets you capture arrivals—all the hellos, hugs, and happy faces.