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Family Photo Tips: Why Candid Shots Are Always the Best

That photo of you spontaneously pushing your brother into the pool? That’s why candid shots are the best!

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Some of your best photos capture those unplanned moments, like when your kids laughed so hard at that dad joke that they shot soda from their noses. If you’re looking for family photo tips to help you nail those genuine smiles—for ways to capture the very heart of your family’s inside jokes, impromptu fashion shows and everything in between—candid pictures are the way to go.  

How you go about getting candid shots can depend on the event, whether it’s a family photo shoot, wedding, baby shower, or stop at the playground, but ultimately, you want unposed photos for the best pics. Snapping a shot of your family’s raw moments, completely capturing their facial expressions and emotions without each person arranging their face how they think it should look, is why candid photography ideas always make for the best printed memories to reflect on. And while you brainstorm the best candid family photo ideas, don’t forget that after you take the pics, you’ll want to print them too! Opt to save your candids every month with a photo book subscription your family will love, or take a few minutes to print your favorites whenever you’d like.

Tips for snapping candid shots of your family
Burst

Use your phone camera to shoot in burst mode, capturing multiple pictures super fast (without having to continuously click a button). This way, you can snap the moment and capture every micro-expression to snag the best pic of your kids’ tickle fight.

Timer

One way to get completely unposed pictures is setting a timer (and getting in the frame yourself!) and not telling your family when the photo will be taken. Bonus points if you can hide your phone by leaning it on a mantle or shelf so you can grab an authentic picture of your whole crew.

Angle

Instead of taking a traditional photo, wrangling your family in front of the camera lens and saying “Cheese!,” try an angle either below or above your typical line of sight for candid family pictures you typically wouldn’t shoot. Your kids’ faces can take on a super goofy or heartfelt expression from a completely different angle or height.

Get Movin’

When we think about photos, we always think about moving our subjects to get the best pose or angle. For candid images, instead of moving for family members, move yourself! Walk around your subjects in a circle to get different angles, facial expressions and body movement that you may not have captured if you stayed in one spot.

Flash

Here’s a hot tip: Avoid using flash when taking candids. Sometimes the flash is too bright, or takes a second too long, and your subjects will change their facial expressions or close their eyes to avoid the flash of your camera. For authenticity, make sure your light stays off.

Get Them Talking

It’s hard to ignore the camera when it’s in your face. To keep your subjects, including your little ones that may love the spotlight, looking natural, ask them questions that’ll get them talking. Anything from their favorite TV show right now, to the chorus of the song they have on repeat. Whatever you know will get them talking, laughing or moving! 

Zoom

If you want to get close to your family members without sticking the camera in their face, try using the zoom lens on your camera. This way, you can get close and focus on your subject without distracting them, and therefore snapping a candid and not a posed photo.

Candid shots of your family to look for
Twister

Whether you have the color-coded game or not, this is a great way to shake out your subjects and get ‘em moving. Now, it’s your kids who are bending over backwards!

Piggy Back Rides

Climb aboard! This prompt usually gets great reactions from both parties involved—especially if you have multiple family members that want to hop on your spouse’s back.

Race

Watch your family get their game faces on as the competition sets in. Your kids probably love to go head-to-head, but this time: They’ll have to beat their parents. This is a great time to set a timer to capture your family’s race.

Air Toss

Whether they’re tossing a little one in the air, playing with a pup, or just tossing leaves or confetti up, this is a great way to get movement and laughter in your shot.

Arm Wrestle

Nothing creates facial expressions quite like an arm wrestling match. Competition creates all sorts of emotions that you’ll want to get close to capture. Get your kids cheering in the background, and of course, the two wrestlings duking it out.

Toss a Football

Go long! Get your kids to run after the pigskin (or soccer ball), and capture the best candid photo as they race to the end zone. Tell your little ones to do a celebratory spike of the ball and set your camera to burst to catch those micro expressions!

Bubbles

There’s always a look of awe and wonder—and plenty of giggles!—when bubbles are involved. From blowing the bubbles to racing after the biggest one, bubbles are great for catching the light (maybe even creating a rainbow) and getting your family to show off their biggest, most genuine smiles.

Music Video

Snap the best candid photos of your family working together to reenact moves from new and old music videos. From the iconic moves of Michael Jackon’s Thriller (your kids will love the moonwalk) to a classic Disney Channel Original Movie (High School Musical’s “We’re All in This Together,” anyone?), there’ll be lots of looks of concentration—plus, your kids will probably laugh at your “old” moves.

Tickles

Laughter makes the best candid photoshoot idea! Every year, you probably try to snap a picture where every family member is laughing (it’s the most elusive photo, right before a nice pic for your holiday card), and tickles are the way to guarantee laughter and wide smiles from everyone. Laughter is contagious! 

Paper Airplanes

The competition may be small, but it’s fierce. Hand out pieces of paper and task your family with making a paper airplane that’ll go the farthest. Use your timer and burst features to make sure you capture every expression as the planes compete—and so you can compete and get in the photos yourself!

Snapping authentic pics of your whole crew can be challenging, but these family photo tips are great for snagging those candid shots during every water balloon fight, bicycle ride and family game night. There's just something special about candids, especially when it comes to family photo albums. You have so many great photos of your family (and now, candid photo ideas), don’t forget to save them from your never-ending camera roll and print them every month in a photo book subscription, or take a few minutes to print your favorites before hitting the hay.

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