Tips & Tutorials

4 Tips for Happy Family Portraits

Events such as birthdays and vacations are occasions when you may want to photograph the entire family together for memory’s sake as these photos will likely become your most valuable treasures. Here, I will show you the 4 key points that even beginners can use to easily take great family photos. (Photos by: Yuji Ogura, Edited by:Etica)

Achieve a natural photo-finish with Bright natural light + Positive exposure compensation

As the shutter speed increases when the location is sufficiently bright, human subjects are less likely to be blurred, allowing for beautiful shots. When the shot is brightened, the impression of the overall photo also becomes brighter. Increase the exposure compensation towards the positive end to make the shot brighter.

Exposure compensation method


Step 1) Set the shooting mode to [P] (Program Auto), [A/Av] (Aperture Priority AE mode), [S/Tv] (Shutter Priority AE mode) etc.


Step 2) Use the [+/−] button on the camera to increase the exposure compensation when you want to make the shot look brighter.


Tip 1: Use a white wall as the background!

Shooting in front of a white wall makes the main subject stand out. Have the subject face front towards the camera and check if the light shines down beautifully on the subject without casting any shadows. If a shadow appears, use a reflector to compensate for the light and eliminate the shadow. Simply by slanting the subject’s body a little, a smooth and lovely silhouette will result. Don’t forget to make sure that the hair and clothes are tidy as well.

[Shooting Conditions]
Location of shot: Indoor(clear)
Lighting condition: Light from the right side of the screen
EOS M3/ EF-M22mm f/2 STM/ FL: 22mm/ f/4.5/ 1/125 sec/ ISO400/ WB: Auto

Tip 2: Show how close knit the family is

To bring out the closeness between family members, emphasize something that they share in common to serve as the focus in the photo. By having the subjects strike the same pose, wear matching clothes, or use a favourite prop, the shot will turn out to be consistent and well-defined.

[Shooting Conditions]
Location of shot: Indoor(clear)
Lighting condition: Light from the right side of the screen
EOS M3/ EF-M22mm f/2 STM/ FL: 22mm/ f/4.0/ 1/125 sec/ ISO400/ WB: Auto

Tip 3: Think of a purposeful use for empty space

With the blue sky in the background, I created an empty space in front of the subjects’ line of sight to suggest the idea of a pleasant future for the family. Take the shot in direct light so as to make the sky appear more blue. When an empty space is created, it’s also easier to turn the photo into a postcard and allow space or arrange the layout for text.

[Shooting Conditions]
Location of shot (weather): Outdoor (clear)
Lighting condition: Light from the left side of the screen
EOS M3/ EF-M22mm f/2 STM/ FL: 22mm/ f/9.0/ 1/640 sec/ ISO400/ WB: Auto

Tip 4: Capture everyday life front and centre!

When your family is at home, you can photograph them at their most relaxed. When capturing a slice of life, take note of the horizontal and vertical axes and face the subject front and centre without tilting the camera at a low angle so as to create a shot that is somewhat different from those found in street photography. By also including other objects such as the subject’s favourite toy, it will make the shot much more memorable when you look back at it in time to come.

[Shooting Conditions]
Location of shot (weather): Indoor (clear)
Lighting condition: Light from the left side of the screen
EOS M3/ EF-M22mm f/2 STM/ FL: 22mm/ f/2.8/ 1/60 sec/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto

[TIPS]Use Picture Style to set your preferred tone and make your portrait more beautiful!


Picture Style is a setting that optimises contrast and tone to match the shooting scene and the mood you want to capture. When set to Portrait, the skin colour will appear more beautiful and the photo will become slightly more distinct.


How to use


Select "Picture Style" → "Portrait" from the "Q" menu etc.


Use the [Info] button to make fine adjustments to the tone and sharpness, etc. The colour of the skin can be adjusted by adjusting the tone.

Yuji Ogura

Ogura’s work in photography expands from shooting photographic works to development and printing films. He is one of the tutors at the “Camera Biyori Photography School”. He started his career as an engineer at a film laboratory and later establishes his own “mogu camera” lab. He also runs the “mogu sun” portrait studio.


Editor Naomi Yajima works as the representative. Besides the Japanese camera magazine "Camera Biyori", she is also involved in the planning and management of numerous books, advertisements, events, camera classes and so on.


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