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8 Tips For Capturing Family Gathering Candids

It’s the time of year when family and friends come together for a meal or two celebrating any number of special occasions. No matter the holiday, family gatherings are a time worth sharing and remembering through photography. In this post, Peter Carey takes a look at eight ways to capture great candid photos of your loved ones.

Copyright falling.bulletsWe’ve all seen the posed family photos around the dinner table, in front of the hearth or in any number of places. These types of shots are great and have their place in preserving your family memories. But some of us are looking for a more realistic representation of what went on at that meal or gathering. We want to convey the sense of laughter around the table, the craziness of having ten nieces and nephews under foot and the joy in sharing gifts. And posing doesn’t work well for these real world shots. That’s where candid photography comes in! Practice with these eight tips and you’ll be well on your way to preserving family get-togethers in a compelling, engaging manner.

Tip #1 – Let Them Know You’re Coming – At any family gathering someone is always taking photos. Most people like to ham it up for the camera or will avoid it like the plague. Letting your family know before hand that you’ll be taking some photos and to ‘act natural’ will greatly increase your odds of capturing the essence of the moment. Not everyone will heed this request, but it’s good for people to know they should generally ignore your photo taking to keep the photographer from distracting the event.

Tip #2 – But Don’t Let Them SEE You Coming – Now that you’ve prepped the crowd and they know what to expect, it’s ok to be a bit sneaky with the photo taking. Hide around corners and near the back of the crowd. Be polite. But don’t draw attention to yourself. Chances are someone else in the family already has the ‘Look over here!” photo responsibilities and you should capitalize on that by hanging in the wings. After people have posed for the standard photos, they’ll be more relaxed, acting like themselves and that’s a perfect time to be waiting in the background ready to capture family interactions.

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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