5 Tips for Better Family Photos by Annick Paradis
If you are like me, your family is your main muse, and your goal consists of documenting each member's personality in the different parts of their life. After a few years of photographing the winter slides, the repetitive trampoline tricks, and the classic chalk drawing on the driveway, you might find yourself bored by these activities. Your little voice keeps saying to shoot, but your camera has begun to gather dust, slowly but surely.
Looking at Instagram, you crave to regain your passion for documenting your routine life. Have you been there? Me too! This was the position I was in when I found out about Lensbaby lenses two years ago and bought my first one— the Sweet 50. I won't lie; at first, I felt it did not suit my photographic voice, which is all about telling the story of my kids' life. However, I have entered an exciting journey of storytelling with its creative effect for the last year or so. Each time I begin to feel bored, I mount it on my Canon 6D and am ready to hack everyday life.
How so? Here are my 5 tips
1. Get your safe shot... and now take a risk!
After all these years, I presume you know how to shoot your kids sliding or swinging. Take the safe shot quickly and then, change your lens and stick with it. Change your perspective, find a detail to shoot, try freelensing or put something in front of your camera. To conquer without peril, we triumph without glory. Let's do it! In this picture, I used the Sweet50, focused on my daughter's face and shot this in burst mode to get the best combo of light, facial expression and snow reflection.
You can also achieve a similar look by using a wide aperture set on a 50 mm focal length lens or longer.
Lensbaby Sweet 50 | ISO 2500 | f2.5 | 1/160 | Canon 6D
2. Detract the background
We all have ordinary backgrounds in which we are forced to shoot. This is where the OMNI Filter comes in handy. I use it to hide the background. This shot was taken at my daughter's school, and the background was filled with various backyards. If you look carefully, you will notice a shed and a fence. Using the coloured crystal wand transformed this backlit situation into a unique one!
Tip: You can also recreate a similar look with a plastic bag, a prism, a copper pipe, etc.
Lensbaby Sweet 50 | ISO 100 | f2.5 | 1/1250 | Canon 6D
Add visual interest
There are many ways to add visual interest. Personally, I like to take advantage of the unique flare each of the Lensbabies captures. Light contributes a lot to the uniqueness of my storytelling. I emphasize it to make it play a more prominent role and accentuate an image's general feeling. Adding an OMNI Filter wand or a copper pipe in front of your Lensbaby will also hack everyday life by adding something more in the frame: a framing element, a foreground, a background, an emotion! In the picture below, I combined the flare effect of the Sweet 50 plus the glowing effect of a copper pipe.
Regular lenses also have beautiful flares. Find the signature flare of each of your lenses and use them to your advantage.
Lensbaby Sweet 50 with OMNI Crystals | ISO 100 | f2.5 | 1/640 | Canon 6D
Try Out Some of the Lenses Annick Uses In These Photos
Lensbaby Sweet 50 + Copper Pipe | f2.5 |ISO 200 |1/640
4. Put the slice of life... in a slice of focus
The beauty of the Edge 35 is that your focal plane can be unexpected for a non-Edge shooter and mind-bending. I love it Instead of having to narrow your aperture to get all your subjects in focus (when they are not on the same focal plane), you can simply tilt your lens… and your focal plane. This is how, in the picture below, the three girls are in focus. If you look carefully, you'll see that the plane in focus is diagonal, from left to right.
While you cannot reproduce this look with any other traditional lens, you can play around with your image in Photoshop to recreate a tilt-shift effect. It will not be the same, but it is a fun thing to try!
"Regular lenses also have beautiful flares. Find the signature flare of each of your lenses and use them to your advantage."
5. Mix and match!
Combine your OMNI filter with a Lensbaby (or any other lens) and go for victory! It is harder to nail it because of the difficulty of manipulating the wand while focusing on moving subjects. This is when I like to compose my frame, focus, and wait for the subject to enter my composition naturally. As my focus is stable, I can finally get a free hand to hold a wand or any other objects. In the picture below, I had the stretch glass wand combined with the Edge 35 lens. I also added a light overlay at the end to give this picture extra oomph! If you use the OMNI on your usual lens, you will be happy to have your hands free!
Again, you can get this mix and match effect by combining a very wide aperture with a longer focal length lens and something to put in front of it!
Lensbaby Edge 35 + OMNI Stretch Wand| ISO 250 | f3.5 | 1/200 | Canon 6D
There you go!
You have moved beyond your traditional "sit and pose" family images. When I first started using Lensbaby lenses, they helped me get out of a creative rut and especially made my January shots better. I have looked at my family albums and noticed that my winter months were good but not wow. For the first time in 8 years of shooting my children, I can say I'm in love with my souvenirs from winter!
Lensbaby Edge 35 | ISO 500 | f4 | 1/400 | Canon 6D
Are you ready to add some "wow" to your family photos? Check out these lenses to add a unique visual and emotional element!
Annick is a French Canadian visual storyteller who likes infusing everyday life with fine arts. She is the author of the photography e-courseFleeting to Timeless: Composing Stories that Last and loves mentoring other photographers. She is based in beautiful Québec city.Instagram Website