Six tips for photographing extended families

This is a photo I took of my own family last summer after church one Sunday while we were all at the lake. I used a tripod and a remote trigger and my sister helped me a lot with arranging everyone. Our outfits were not coordinated as you can see. All the spouses are standing next to each other but the kids are scattered around, not arranged in family groupings (read #3 to find out why). Usually I would probably put the youngest kids on the front row, but in our case, the teenagers are all super tall so it was easier to have them sit down and to have the younger kids stand. Everyone looks so happy and cooperative right? Haha! In reality they were all complaining! Ok, not ALL of them, but it kind of seemed like it in the moment! But totally worth it!

In the video accompanied with these posing tips, you can watch the entire coaching session with Tiffany where we also discussed cropping and much more. I’m currently accepting coaching clients: find out more

1. Make Mom your priority

“If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” This is especially true when it comes to family photos! I like showing mom the back of my camera during the shoot to get her thoughts and feedback. I have learned that this can greatly contribute to having an end result that the client is thrilled with. For example, several years ago I was photographing a darling family and the mom was wearing a bold red lipstick. I showed her some photos on the back of my camera and she hated the way the lipstick looked so she took it off and opted for a softer lip. If I wouldn’t have showed her the back of my camera, she would have been wearing the red lipstick the entire time and she wouldn’t have liked the finished photos nearly as much.

2. Get everyone in focus

Large groups can be tricky with making sure everyone is in focus. Here’s a good rule of thumb, set your shutter speed to 200. Set your ISO to 400. Put your f-stop as high as possible without making the photo too dark. Focus on the eyes of the person in the middle, front. After taking a test shot, zoom up on the faces in the photo to make sure they are in focus.

3. Balance heights and colors.

You may want to consider arranging people by heights and what they are wearing rather than strictly by each individual family being together. This can result in a much more balanced looking and cohesive photo. It kind of depends how well the family has coordinated clothing and the height differences between family members. For example, if everyone is similar in height, you may need to have some family members sitting down in order to see everyone’s faces.

4. Creating Connection

If everyone’s hands are stiff and to their sides, the end photo will probably look stiff. My goal is to create a feeling of genuine connection in photos like this. Holding hands, linking arms and leaning into each other are a few ways you can create connection in large group photos.

5. Posing to maximize flattering angles

The people at the edges of the photos will look larger than those at the center so it’s a good practice to position smaller people at the edges of the photo, and larger people towards the center. And for goodness sakes, if you are the one taking the photo and you have to run and jump in the shot, unless you’re one of the smaller people in the group, carve out a flattering spot for yourself. (I have learned this the hard way!)

6. Have a second set of eyes and hands to help you

With a big group of people it’s hard to see everything, and it is super helpful to have someone helping you out. No need for your helper to be a photographer. One year when I was taking this group photo of my family, the twins, the youngest ones, were both pulling faces in almost every.single.photo! The next year I was READY! Or, so I thought. I was so laser focused on the twins that next year that I didn’t notice that their oldest brother was making faces in every.single.shot!

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Xxo, Rebecca Franson, Camera Mama Founder

Get Perfect White Balance in Photos


(photo by Diana Palmer)

In the video accompanied with these white balance tips, you can watch the entire coaching session where we discussed Michelle’s new Canon 60D Mirrorless camera and how she likes it. We also cover – editing using Lightroom and Photoshop, and trading services for photography. (In the video I share all the crazy things I have traded for!) I’m currently accepting coaching clients: find out more
1. How to correct Skin Tones in Lightroom
If the skin tones for all of the subjects in your photo need a little help, try using the HSL panel in Lightroom. Start by adjusting the saturation of the oranges. More detailed info is in the video. 
2. Editing tips to fade sunlight spots in photos
I helped Michelle learn how to use the brush tool in Lightroom during her one-on-one coaching session to fix a lighting problem in one of her photos. One of the family members had the sun shining on them in such a way that it made her skin look quite a bit more orange than the other family members. If this was just for a small print it probably wouldn’t be noticeable, but since this photo was going to be printed big, the white balance needed to be adjusted. I was able to do a computer screen takeover via Zoom and show Michelle how to edit that individuals skin so that it matched the skin tone of her other family members. 
3.Take breaks from photo editing when color correcting
After staring at your computer screen for too long your color perception can be off. Take a break or come back to editing tomorrow with fresh eyes and go with your first instinct of whether an image looks too warm or cool. Also, this is very important, make sure to take OFF your blue blocker glasses! They really do block the blue and that will totally skew your color perception if you edit photos while wearing them.
4. Analyzing RGB Numbers for Skin Tone
Maybe you have taken a class about all the nitty gritty details of editing skin in Lightroom and Photoshop and you have learned what all the ‘RGB numbers’ ‘should’ be. What if you punch in the numbers and it looks totally wrong? Does that mean you’re a terrible photographer? Does that mean you don’t know what you’re doing? Listen closely… NO! While it can be helpful in certain circumstances to get into all the details, in most cases the best strategy is to trust your own eyeballs! Remember that photography is ultimately SUBJECTIVE. Rules are made to be broken. What do YOU like? Go with that and you’ll never be ‘wrong’. 
5. A Sneaky Tip for ‘Calibrating’ Your Monitor
Print out your photos. If your screen matches the photos, you are good to go. This is why it’s so important to use a good printer. Try mpix.com if you don’t have a pro account. My favorite professional photo labs are ProDPI (the deep matte prints are my favorite! Drool worthy!), Bay Photo Lab (one stop shopping), and Millers Lab (Books, albums, cards), CG Pro (Canvases). You can also calibrate your monitor the non-sneaky way using a Spyder Monitor Calibrator.
6. Get the White Balance Right in Camera before you start shooting
Ok, so this should actually be the first tip! If in doubt, you can always choose Auto White Balance (AWB). I prefer using the Kelvin setting in most situations. Just remember the higher the number, the ‘warmer’ the white balance, and the lower your Kelvin number is, the ‘cooler’ your image will be.

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Xxo, Rebecca Franson, Camera Mama Founder

Tip of the Week


Beth said:
Thank you so much for the feature Rebecca! @camera_mama_coaching ☺️. This was taken in dappled light so exposure was tricky. I had a few hot spots that I had to bring down in post processing. I edited with a “gold” preset (I used @tarahsweeney ‘s preset number 3 from her first preset pack) and then brought down highlights in selective places, and brought up shadows around the eyes. I added a slight matte effect with curves in Lightroom.

Tip of the Week chosen by @kelly.crews

Creating the Perfect Photography Instagram Profile and Bio

Instagram profile tips were just one of the many things I discussed with Esohe during her one-on-one photography coaching call. Check out the video below to watch the entire coaching session! Did you know that you too can sign up to GET COACHED!?

Set up your photography Instagram profile and bio for success:

1.Instagram profile pictures that help you get new clients
Hiring a photographer is personal because getting photographed is an act of vulnerability. When a potential client is narrowing down who they want to hire, they’ve likely already eliminated photographers based on skill and price. The final selection often comes down to if they feel like they could connect with you as a person and feel like they would be comfortable getting photographed by you. This is why it’s super important that your Instagram profile picture for your photography business is a photo of you. Preferably just you, and preferably a closer up face photo since profile pictures are already so tiny.
2. Actionable tip to creating an Instagram Bio
When you select ‘photographer’ for your ‘category’ this eliminates the need to use precious space in your bio to type in that information. 
3.Should I use a ‘Personal account’ or a ‘Creator Account’ on Instagram?
If your Instagram account is currently a ‘Personal Account’ or a ‘Business Account’, a ‘Creator Account’ will probably serve you better. Here’s why.
Creator accounts offer daily insights. (Personal accounts don’t offer insights, and business accounts only offer weekly insights.) Insights will help you identify what’s working the best for reaching your audience.
For example, click on an individual photo and then on the ‘view insights’ button right under the photo. Once there, scroll down to the ‘Discovery’ section and look for what percentage of the people who saw your photo weren’t following you. This is a valuable indicator of whether your messaging is reaching new eyeballs. Study the percentages on different posts you have made.
What hashtags did you use on the ones that have higher percentages? What type of photos have higher percentages? Do the higher percentages have things in common that you can replicate in future posts? Once you start delving into the numbers you will find that there might be some reason behind the seemingly random results you are getting with your Instagram posts. Empower yourself by using Instagram Insights!
Here’s how to change your Instagram account to a ‘Creator Account’.
On your phone while on your Instagram page, click on the 3 horizontal lines in the top left corner.
Click Settings
Click Account & scroll down until you see the option to switch.
If you are switching from a business account to a creator account it will look like this:
If you are switching from a personal account to a creator account it will look like this:
4. Picking a name for your photography Instagram account
Since my first and last name are my username, there is no need to be redundant and put my name in the name field or in my bio. FOR SURE people want to know what your name is! As I mentioned above, hiring a photographer is personal and even if you are not looking for clients, when photography hubs are featuring photos, names are very helpful. The name field is the only part of your bio that is searchable. Putting your location is very strategic. If your name is NOT your username, at least put your first name in the ‘name’ field. Think about search terms your ideal ‘client’ would search for while in Instagram and use those terms in your ‘name’ field. I actually recently switched my username and name because the name of my business is hard to spell and pronounce. 
5. Instead of an email address use the ‘Contact Button’ on Instagram
Because the space is limited in your bio, you might as well not use it with things that you can include elsewhere that don’t count against your character limitations. Here’s what it looks like inside the ‘edit profile’ tab and also once you add it to your profile.
6. Don’t use a bitly link in your Photography Instagram profile
Amanda Myers, a.k.a. The Hashtag Fairy, says that Instagram users are better off using their actual website addresses in their Instagram profiles. She maintains that bitly links or other URL shortening links can look sketchy and that people may be hesitant to click on those links. Amanda is the founder of Photographer Hack and is a respected Instagram expert and who I learned most of the info in this post from!
7. Great Tips for Using Story Highlights
I shoot weddings, but not super often. If someone new is visiting my Instagram page, I want them to be able to quickly and easily see my best wedding work without having to scroll through months of family and senior photos. Use your Instagram Highlights like you would a menu bar on a website. A good rule of thumb is to have 6-8 Highlight categories with 6-8 photos in each category. But, do your own thing…those are just some loose guidance if you don’t know where to start:-)

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I can’t wait to help you! 

Rebecca Franson, Camera Mama Founder