If you’ve ever taken family photographs whether they be candid shots of your own family, formal portrait shots for a client, friend, or family member or even a “day-in-the-life” type shoot you know that this can be one of the more frantic and stressful types of work that you do.  It’s very easy to get caught up in getting the familiar shots that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing when we think of family photography. In this post I’ll talk about how adding a dose of close-up shots can really spice up your next family photography session.

Something as simple as wedding rings on the toes of an infant can create a unique photograph.

If you’re anything like me, when you’re taking photographs of any family (whether it be my own or someone else’s) you often get caught up focusing on getting as much of the family as possible into the shot.  We want to see the whole picture, whether that be children playing with their siblings or a mother holding her newborn baby close to her. We don’t want to miss anything and this is why we sometimes hear that we should shoot with a wide lens when taking family photographs. We can often capture as much emotion and drama when we get in close as well. Juxtaposing a parents hand holding the tiny hand or feet of a newborn, for example, hammers home just how much a little one will grow throughout their lives and how we should cherish them when they are so small because it goes by so quickly. A close-up shot of a young one’s freckles with a mischeivious look in their eyes can underscore the wildness and freedom of youth as much as a wide angle shot of them playing might do.

Whether you are doing a formal portrait session, a more relaxed day-in-the-life type of session, or just out and about with your own family, it’s easy to get caught in the loop of taking the same types of photos over and over again.  Next time try to take some time to look for opportunities to take some close-up shots. This will add variety to the photos as well as provide some unique angles and details that may normally go unnoticed. If you’re planning on making an album or photo book, these shots really help to break up the repetitiveness that can sometime sneak in.

Another benefit of shooting close-up shots during your family photography sessions is that it can help to give your creativity a boost.  Whenever we can see something from a different perspective we are expanding our creative options.

Look for unique angles and perspectives to shoot some interesting close-up shots of your loved ones.

It can sometimes be difficult to find these shots, especially during a portrait session when everyone is focused on making sure everyone looks their best and is in the right order and smiling.  During these types of shoots use the downtime while your people are changing outfits or just taking a break to calm a little one to look for some interesting close-up shots. Perhaps there is a flower in one of the children’s hair or a special piece of jewelry that someone is wearing that has special meaning for the family.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Kids hands playing with toys
  • Parent’s hands clasped with kids in the background
  • Baby’s feet
  • Close-Up of a child’s face
  • Comparing feet of parents and child
  • Close-up of some cherished item

One final note on macro lenses.  Did you know that something like a 50mm or 100mm macro lens doubles as an excellent portrait lens?  In fact, if you’re interested in doing macro photography as well as some portraiture at 50mm macro is a great value compared to purchasing stand-alone lenses for each purpose.

Macro lenses can make great portrait lenses. Shot with a 100mm IS macro on a Canon 5D Mark III