Wednesday , May 12 2021

How to photograph everyday family life

Raising children is a nice chaos

From breakfast to bedtime, raising children is chaos. But there are hundreds of good times along the way if you train your heart and eyes to see them. Right in the heart of chaos, you can wonderfully capture the mundane everyday moments of family life in photographs.

Family photo Golden hour - How to photograph everyday family life

To capture your daily family life in photos, there are four areas you'll want to cover:

  • Tools to use.
  • What to photograph
  • Creative skills
  • Discovering projects for a lifetime.

1. Gear

"Photographers, like a few other types of artists I can imagine, have an insanely personal relationship with their equipment." – David DuChemin

I will start with gears because you will greatly increase your chances of taking great photos during the day when you are well prepared.

Gear minimal

I'm a fan of minimal tools for everything I'm photographing, including my family life. You may find that constantly worrying about updating your camera or using too many different lenses actually distracts you from the small moments that are happening around you.

Settle on a camera and then forget all the new options that arrive. Very soon you will find out which lens is your favorite. Often use that goal, but try a different one every now and then to expand your creative skills.

i phone

"The best camera is the one that's with you." – Chase Jarvis

Many families invest in a DSLR camera like the Canon Rebel, but then it is too difficult for them to use. So they often find themselves using their phone.

Do not worry when you use your smartphone to take pictures. Although the technology may differ, any camera is better than any camera. The principles of creative photography are the same regardless of the camera used.

Because it's so easy to carry, your phone is normally the camera you're ready to take a picture at any time.

A silhouette of two children playing in tents. - family life

I started capturing family moments with my iPhone 4 as a challenge to take interesting pictures, no matter what camera I had with me.

Keep the video camera closed

Whichever camera you use, make sure it is normally within reach. When you see a great moment that is happening you can reach your camera and turn it on while you are lifting it for your eye. I always leave my lens cap at all times. I've never damaged a lens and I do not want to fumble with the lens covers while a great moment passes by.

Keep the battery charged

How many times have you seen a family member lose a good picture because the camera battery is dead? I see it happening during every single special occasion even as the best moments are happening!

You should always have a spare battery and have it charged and ready. I do not wait for my first battery to be discharged before charging it. As soon as it starts to drain, I turn it on.

Do not leave the camera in manual mode

How many times have you quickly picked up your camera to take some pictures just to find out that the settings were totally wrong? Perhaps you used your camera in manual mode in bright light and then forgot to set it before taking a brief moment indoors.

The photo of the interior will be underexposed or completely dark. To avoid this, I always leave the camera set to the priority of the aperture. I do it because I do not want to forget to adjust the settings if it was left in manual mode.

A clean 50mm lens

I recommend everyone to own a 50 mm lens. They are wonderful for getting bokeh and playing well in low light conditions.

Portrait of a girl in a fair. family life

This photo was taken with a 50mm f / 2.5 lens. The background is blurred, but you can still say the context.

But no matter what goal you're using, make sure you keep it clean! The easiest way to improve photo quality is to keep the lens clean of fingerprints and dust.

Image of a child with messy fingers trying to touch the camera. family life

The untidy hands of the child force me to clean the lenses several times a day!

2. What to photograph

With minimal gear, charged batteries and a clean lens, the question becomes: "What should I photograph?" The answer is literally, anything.

Capture the obvious moments that are important to you. Perhaps the first steps, the first foods, the brothers playing, the day trips to the beach. But he also begins to consider the less obvious moments.

"I look at the edges for those little moments of stunning – a bit like what makes our lives – those slightly embarrassing, beautiful moments." – Keith Carter


"If the house is a body, the table is the heart, the center of typing, the supporter of life and health". – Shauna Niquist

A child coloring in a restaurant. family life

Remember to go to restaurants with your parents and the server brings you a coloring book? Those are the little things to photograph.


Boys washing a big window. family life

I like it when children help with household chores, especially when they add to my series of window photos.

Playing outside

Especially when photographing outdoor adventures, consider the idea of ​​taking enough pictures to tell a story.

Two children using a swimming pool like a boat. family life

One year the bay flooded and arrived directly in our yard. The kids had the idea of ​​dragging their pool along and using it as a boat! I was not going to lose this photo op!

Discovering huge fish in our backyard. family life

After launching their boat they discovered that some huge fish had come to live in our flooded backyard!

A picture taken from the inside of the water. family life

Wanting a different perspective, I decided to wade myself in the water.

A low angle photo of a girl holding a worm!

To create an interesting series of photos, try capturing events from the beginning to the end. Use a variety of angles and perspectives, and go to the foreground!


"If more than we esteemed the food and the joy and the song over the accumulated gold, it would be a happier world." -J.R.R. Tolkien

Little girl having a snack.

Adults eat without thinking, but snacks really entertain children! It is lit by a window on the side and warm colored light just above its head.

Playing inside

A little girl playing the piano.

Is he a living child who can resist playing the piano? One thing that I paid attention to this picture was to frame it so as to cut out the underlying disorder. It forced me to be nice and close.

For a completely different perspective try looking through the toys to take the picture.

A child playing with magic wands.

My children love the glow plugs and I adore the challenge of low-light photography! This is when a 50 mm lens with a large aperture of f / 1.8 is useful! I hit ISO at 5000 and I slowed the shutter speed to 1/15 of a second to get this shot.

A picture with lots of textures.

The plot in this photo is highlighted by a window that illuminates the scene.

Day trips

A child flying a kite.

Sometimes playing for me is photographing a stimulating scene like this.

A child who gets on a plane.

Museums are a way to work with exciting new things in your photos.

Image of a boy in a railway construction site.

My son loved to play with his round toy house and crane. This picture allowed me to capture the real versions of the toys with which my son loved to play.


"The shared meal is not a trivial matter, it is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating the differences , discuss without offending ". – Michael Pollan

A plate of steaming food.

Backlight or side light help to capture the vapor in a photo.

Now gold

Walking at the gold hour.

I love to make sure that our family walks so we can take some pictures of gold.

A child playing with toys at home while the sun sets in the open.

I love so much the gold hour that I will be able to photograph it even indoors.

Days of illness

Even when my daughter is sick, she lets her funny personality shine. We held a bowl near his bed just in case, but he also made a good helmet!


A sunset seen from inside.

Photographing a sunset in the open air is the obvious choice. But when the window of your living room offers a good view, do not miss the opportunity of a different perspective.

Children who sleep

Photo of a sleeping baby.

This is a perfect example of using an iPhone to take pictures of your family life. My DSLR would have made a lot of noise. So I grabbed my iPhone 4s and turned off the audio to take this picture.

A boy who sleeps with a son.

To capture this poorly lit photo, a higher ISO and a lower shutter speed were used.

3. Creative skills

"The real tools of our trade are not the camera and the lens: they are the mood, the composition and the visual language of photography.To spend more time learning those and, regardless of the camera you use, you will make convincing photographs. " – David DuChemin

To capture all these moments, you have to master some essential skills. We will discuss creativity, basic camera settings, patience and editing.


The choice of different camera angles makes your photos more exciting and adds variety to the hundreds of moments you capture.

Try angles such as bird's eye view, face to face and low angle.

I used a bird's eye view to photograph this scene of my drawing children.

I used a high angle to capture the scene as it started to become chaotic!

In the end, I arrived for a slightly angled "face to face" roll before things turned completely out of control. Using a variety of angles and getting closer, everyday family life can be just as fun for the photographer as the children!


The backgrounds are good for two things; tell a story or intrude.

If the background does not help to add something to your photo, try to make it disappear. In all the photos of this article, I tried to eliminate the background as much as possible, or to use it to create a context in the photo. Look back and decide which one you think you have chosen.

If your background is beautiful or adds to the story of your photo, be careful to make the background a strong part of your photo. Let me illustrate with Lego!

A Lego man with a simple background.

This shady Lego character was photographed with a neutral background without clutter.

Lego with a Lego train behind him.

This is the same Lego character, but this time there's a Lego train in the background that adds a little bit of context to the photo.


When you are in low light situations and you are using a new camera, you need to raise the ISO as high as possible (3200 or 6400). A higher ISO will help your camera absorb more light and help your photo be brighter.

True, a higher ISO could introduce some grain or digital noise into your photo, but is not it a better grainy picture than a blurry photo or photo?

A child sleeping with a book.

This naptime photo was acquired with an ISO of 3200.

Clear photos

If the light is poor and you use a lens with a large aperture (f / 1.8) and a high ISO (3200 or 6400), the last thing to consider is the shutter speed . If the shutter speed is too low, your photos may be blurred for two reasons. Perhaps your subject has moved. It happens all the time with the kids! Or maybe you moved the camera, even slightly, while you took the picture.

It is necessary to stabilize as much as possible while taking the picture and waiting for the moment (however short it may be) when the subject is stopped.

You could also embrace the creative side of a slow shutter speed!

A portrait with blur motion background.

This was taken with the iPhone 4 on a cloudy evening. I knew the speed of the shutter would be slow. I walked backwards while my daughter walked towards me. This kept my daughter clearer than the moving background. Motion blur is fun to experiment, try it!


Search for inspiration between street, food and portrait artists. Everything you can learn from different photographers will help you take a better picture of your daily family life.


I can not stress too much the importance of patience while photographing your daily family life (especially with young children). So many possible moments and photos will be ruined if you refuse to be patient.

Maybe you have a picture in mind but the guys do not cooperate. Losing patience will only lead to anger on your part and frustration of children. Your children will learn that image time is not fun and shudders every time you take your camera out.

Edit and print

Finally, you need to prepare photos for printing. You could add your favorite photos to a photo book or make bigger prints for your home. Do not skip the printing phase, this is what gives your photos a real life of its own rather than just on a hard drive.

4. Discovering projects for a lifetime

While sieving your photos over the years, you may notice that the models are starting to emerge.

Many people start photo projects from scratch, but you can also create photo projects based on photos you've already taken.

I had taken a series of photos of my children playing near the window of our living room. When I put them together, I realized that I was working on a series without even realizing it! After that I began to think of that window as a canvas, waiting to see what would happen on it.

Collection of photos

This is a small number of my pictures of the living room window. Once the collection is complete, I will find out how I want to present it. Perhaps a photographic book or a series of large prints in a recreation room. Perhaps I could use them to illustrate a collection of essays.


Your life and your family are unique. Whatever you get excited about grabbing your camera, do it. Whatever you can keep awake until late at night, by ordering and modifying. What will make you print your images? Those are the things worth photographing.

Whatever the chaos that your family produces around you, it's an opportunity to create beauty with your camera.

I would like to know which suggestion was most useful to you and I would like to see some of the photos of your family life in the comments below.

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