Learn How to Shoot Great Family Photos

Tips for Taking Awesome Photos at Your Next Family Reunion

Family hugging outdoors

Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images

Reunions are a summer staple for many families. It’s a great chance to see relatives you haven’t seen for a long time, as well as visit interesting locations, both of which also equal great opportunities for photographs.

If you remember to bring your camera to the reunion (and you’ll be kicking yourself if you don't) use these tips to shoot great photos at your family reunions.

Come Prepared

Part of the challenge of shooting photos at a family reunion will be having the right equipment available. Think about what kinds of photos you're going to shoot. If you will be wanting to shoot a lot of action photos or photos in low light conditions, you may want to consider a more advanced camera that can excel in those situations, especially with portrait photos, which will probably be the most common images that you'll shoot at a reunion.

Or you may want to think more about the types of physical activity you'll be participating in during the reunion. If you don't want to lug around a camera bag, for example, consider making use of a point and shoot camera that you can easily fit into a pocket. Match the equipment you bring to the type of activities that will be happening.

Deciding what equipment to bring will be tricky if you're traveling by air to the reunion. If you're packing a bag with a camera, make sure that you follow all airline rules and regulations regarding packing your bags. And ensure you pack the bags securely and properly so that your camera equipment remains safe.

Have Extra Juice on Hand

Have a spare battery and memory card available, or make preparations ahead of time to be able to download photos and charge batteries on site. You don’t want to miss a great photo late in the day because your battery is drained or the memory card is full.

Think of the Output

Consider what you want to do with your reunion photos. For example, some people will simply want a lot of group photos. Others will want to try to tell a story of the reunion day or days. With a photo story, you can showcase the excitement over everyone’s arrival, activities during the day, and the "good-byes."

Think Close Range

Obviously, staged photos are going to take up a lot of your memory card’s storage space at a reunion. You’ll want plenty of large group photos, some individual portraits of your relatives, and some small groups. Just make sure you stand close enough to the subjects when shooting your photos so that you easily can identify everyone later.

Don't Forget to Go Candid, Too

However, don’t limit yourself to staged photos. Group photos might be the staple of photography at family reunions, but it’s the fun, candid photos that you’ll probably remember later, such as the hugging couple shown above. Find your relatives interacting, laughing during the family softball game, or eating together. Shoot plenty of photos of those interactions.

Make Sure to Photo Bomb

If you’re going to be the primary photographer at the reunion, make sure that you have a chance to be in some of the photos, too. Give your camera to other people off and on throughout the day, so they can shoot photos of you interacting with your relatives. Bring a tripod and set up the camera with a self-timer so that you can be in the photo, too.

Consider investing in a remote control for the camera, so you can control the shutter without using the self-timer. Some smartphones allow you to connect via Wi-Fi to the camera, controlling it that way.

Finally, if you don’t want to spend the entire reunion taking photos instead of interacting with your relatives, consider asking your relatives to help with your photo story. Have them shoot photos with their own digital cameras and then send their shots to you, allowing you to compile the story. Or, provide several one-time-use cameras where people can shoot film for prints that you can develop, digitize, and compile later.

In addition, consider setting up a Web site or an area with a photo storage online service where you can upload all of the photos you’ve taken and others have taken. Then, give your relatives the password or Web address, so they can access the photos. Organizing and sharing the photos of the day is a great gift you can provide to your relatives.