7 photo tips for parents using their ‘big’ camera

Feb 13, 2024

It is so important for me that parents capture their own family life. Of course they can hire me for a photography session, which gets everyone in front of the camera and you get someone to create beautiful family photos for you. This is super valuable; however it is too costly to hire a photographer for every day of your life. So, the most important photographer of your family is still YOU, You are the one to create that visual family legacy. So, knowing how to take good images and using a good camera to do so, is very important. Below I will give you tips to help you get started on your photography journey.

1. Keep your camera close and the batteries charged

Your camera is your tool as a visual storyteller, but I often find that parents do not make it easy to use their ‘big’ camera as it is hidden away in a cupboard somewhere. To ensure you never miss a precious family moment, keep your camera within arm’s reach and your batteries charged. It is always a good practice to have a spare battery on hand, ensuring you’re always ready to seize the opportunity to capture a beautiful moment. If you do not have a camera yet, and not sure which one to get you can get some help with this article: Buying a camera: 6 questions to ask yourself

Boy learning to walk being captured using a big mirrorless camera

2. Ditch the fear and embrace mistakes

Fear can be a significant barrier to using big cameras. Whether it’s fear of dropping it, not knowing how to use it properly, or taking bad photos, overcoming these fears is key. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – they are the stepping stones to learn and grow in understanding your DSLR/mirrorless camera. Embrace the learning process, experiment with different settings, and allow yourself to grow as a photographer.

3. Choose the right settings for your camera

Understanding your camera settings is key to unlocking its full potential. Take the time to familiarize yourself with basic settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and how these three affect each other. Tailor these settings to the specific conditions of your environment, whether you’re indoors, outdoors, or dealing with challenging lighting. The right settings can transform an ordinary scene into a captivating family portrait. To get away from using your camera’s auto mode you can also first start using the shutter priority (‘S’ or Tv’) or aperture priority (‘A’ or Av’) modes. This can be handy when using manual mode seems overwhelming at first. These modes let you focus on one aspect while getting a feel for how it impacts the other.  You can find a lot of information and tutorials online, consult your camera manual, or join a photography course. My beginner’s photography course for parents ‘The Picture Playground‘, will help you understand your camera’s dials and buttons and teach you how to navigate the exposure triangle.

Photograph your family using your big camera and take a picture like this of father and son.

4. Composition, light and moment in family photography

Elevate your photography by focusing on composition, light, and capturing the right moment. Experiment with the rule of thirds, explore different angles, and pay attention to the interplay of light and shadows. Be patient and wait for those special moments that convey genuine emotions within your family. The combination of thoughtful composition, beautiful lighting, and perfect timing can turn an ordinary snapshot into a work of art. What makes a good image is another topic that I cover in ‘The Picture Playground‘.

5. Asking yourself the right questions before taking a family picture

Before you press your shutter to take a photo it is important to ask yourself some questions. Wat’s the story I am trying to tell? And how can I tell this story best. That will inform you where to stand and what angle or width to photograph the scene. Knowing what mood you want will also help you choose the right settings in your camera. Do you for example want to see movement blur?

6. Analyse your own family photos

Reviewing your own photos is a powerful tool for improvement. Take the time to analyse your shots – what works well, and what could be enhanced? This includes blurry images, focus issues, exposure problems, colour discrepancies, and composition challenges. Reflecting on your photography helps refine your skills and develop a unique style. Consider not only analysing what did not go well, but also looking at what makes you love a photo. This will really help you in developing your own style of photography. You can do this by creating a collection of your favourite family photos, allowing you to see your progress and celebrate your photographic journey.

7. Practice makes perfect

Invest time in getting to know your camera better. Photography, like any skill, requires practice. Make a commitment to regularly use your big camera (not only for special occasions or holidays!) and experiment with different techniques. Every photo you take contributes to your growth as a photographer. Over time, you’ll find yourself capturing moments with ease and confidence. To help you, you can also set yourself a project. Like giving yourself the challenge to take one photo per day or week. This will not only motivate you to pick up your camera regularly but also provide opportunities to overcome difficulties and enhance your skills. The better you know your camera and understand how to choose the right settings, the more you can focus on what’s happening in front of the camera.

I hope these 7 tips will help you start your journey of using your DSLR/Mirrorless camera to capture your family. And do let me know if you have any questions or thoughts as I am always here to help you along with your photography. I am so passionate about you taking great photos of your own family.

So, for parents eager to delve deeper into the art of photography, I have something perfect for you “The Picture Playground“, a beginner’s photography course specially curated for parents. In this course, you’ll receive hands-on guidance and insights into all the aspects discussed – from mastering your camera settings, understanding composition light and moment, and learning magic of capturing authentic family moments that you’ll be proud to hang on the wall.


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