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How to Shoot Family Portraits Inside

Learn how to shoot family portraits inside from professional photographer Joe Sinnott in this Howcast photography tutorial.


Hi, I'm Joe. I teach photography at the School of Visual Arts. Today we're going to do an indoor family portrait.

I set up very, very simple lighting here. I used relatively inexpensive battery powered flash units bouncing off of umbrellas to keep the lights soft and very diffuse. Although you could use very simple, cheap tungsten lights that you can find even in a pet store. Clamp reflectors with big dishes and you could spin a could of 500-watt tungsten bulbs in there and do basically the same thing.

Now I have the lights criss-crossing like this so I don't get a harsh shadow on one side or the other, and the lights tend to fill each other in, in the backgrounds.

Get everybody sitting close together and it helps if you've got somebody standing behind you to amuse the small people who are very easily distracted.

Hey. Hello. Everybody looking at Joe. That's great, that's great, that's great, that's great. Look at you. I can't believe that this is actually working. Yay. Mom, move the child. There you go. That's great, that's great. Everybody looks fabulous.

Don't try to photograph everybody from way up in the air. Get down where their eyes are.

That's terrific. Look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me. Everybody put your finger in your mouth. There we go. Everybody put your finger in your mouth without choking the children. Very nice. Okay, take the fingers out of the mouth.

Whenever you're photographing small children, the best advice in the world is surrender the illusion of control. Just keep shooting and shooting and shooting because it's the only way you're going to make sure you get everybody with their eyes open and you get that one moment when everybody's kind of looking at your and smiling.

Small children don't always need to smile but it's better if they're looking at you than away from you.

Hello. Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello. Look at you. Absolutely fabulous.

And that's how you shoot a family portrait indoors.

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