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Family Portraits: Tips for Taking Portraits Outdoors

Learn why taking family portraits outside is the best way to get professional quality portraits. In this article you'll learn about the best time of day to take portraits outside and tips for having a great outdoor setting.

Why take family portraits outdoors? Besides the potential for beautiful or fun backgrounds, photographing outside provides the opportunity to use natural lighting. If you are a professional photographer or serious enthusiast then you know that the external flash, studio lights and reflectors work to mimic the beauty of natural light.

If you are new to photography and have a digital compact and built in flash, then taking your family portraits outdoors is the best way to get professional quality portraits that you'll want to proudly frame in your home.

The Best Natural Lighting for Outdoor Family Portraits

Not all outdoor lighting is good. The worst time of day to take outdoor family portraits is mid day. The best times of day to take outdoor photographs is the hour before sunset and after dawn when the shadows are least harsh and the light is the softest. The closer to these times you can gather the family for their portrait, the better.

Another good option is to wait for a cloudy day when there is bright overcast light. This provides enough bright light and is the kind of softness professional photographers spend money on soft boxes to get. If the timing doesn't work out for any of the above, find shade that isn't too dark.

Settings for Outdoor Portraits

The obvious choice and perhaps the best choice is the family's backyard. Or you could take a cue from high school senior photography and take your outdoors family portrait at a place the family enjoys such as a park. If you go away from home, look for times of the day that the location you choose is the least crowded.

You should also consider using a family hobby as a potential setting. If the entire family is into horses, a pretty pasture with horses nibbling on the grass with the family posed on and in front of a nice white fence could work quite well. If the family sails, consider the boat's deck.

Speaking of boats, a word of caution: if you decide to take any family portraits outdoors at places such as the sea, beach or snow, here are some things that can help: Select the beach mode on a digital compact, or if you use a DSLR or SLR, use a polarizing filter. This will help decrease the glare. Set the flash to "on" instead of "automatic" to help minimize shadows on the family. Don't position the family where they will be facing the sun otherwise they'll be squinting.

As with any picture, be sure to hide or remove clutter in the background. Do you want to use the natural lighting of outdoors but want a plain background? Take a piece of material and tack it to something like a fence. Check for things like lawn sprinklers or anything behind the family that may be distracting like a lamp post.

If you want to minimize the overall background, use the Portrait mode or set your Aperture Priority for a smaller depth of field.

On the other hand, you may want to pose the family so that yard features such as a beautiful tree or garden cottage are part of the picture. Just be sure to compose the shot with the focus on the family.

Whether you're taking outdoor family portraits of your family or someone else'sFind Article, use these portrait tips and you'll be sure to take a portrait that will be proudly framed on the wall.

Article Tags: Family Portraits Outdoors, Family Portraits, Portraits Outdoors, Natural Lighting, Outdoor Family

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Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture and loves taking pictures. Your Picture Frames makes it easy for you to find just the perfect frame for your photo or artwork. Shop online and see our beautiful selection of gold frames and silver photo frames now.

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