Five Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Family Photographs

Our next guest blogger is Teddi Yaeger.  Teddi is a professional portrait and wedding photographer who resides and works in the Puget Sound region of Washington (Seattle, Everett, and the Eastside). Since 2002, Teddi has specialized in pregnancy, birth, infant, children’s and family portraits, as well as photojournalistic coverage of weddings.  She is a wife and the mother of two young children – 6-year-old Hayden and 3-year-old Sylvia.

The following excerpt is from Teddi’s “Photography for Mommies (and Daddies)” workshop, which she offers every few months.  For more information or to sign up for the next workshop, please contact Teddi at, or visit her blog at

On a personal note, Teddi photographed my wedding back in 2004 and the pictures were FANTASTIC!  I am thrilled that she agreed to provide her tips here on our blog and can’t wait to take her workshop with my husband so we can take great photos of our new baby later this year.  -Amy


Five Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Family Photographs:

 1. Turn off your flash

Professional photographers spend years and thousands of dollars trying to create artificial light that is as beautiful and complex as natural light, but in my opinion, nothing compares.  Ironically, amateur photographers use their cameras in “Automatic” mode, which relies on flash 99% of the time.  The problem with on-camera flash is that its strobe light is bright, harsh and tends to wash the subject out, while at the same time obscuring the background in shadow.  Natural light is softer and more flattering to faces, has more depth and allows the background to play a part in the overall scene.  Sudden, bright flashes of light also spoil your chances of capturing your subject in a wonderful candid moment.   Turn up your ISO to 800 or 1600, if you need to compensate, or place your subject near a window.


Nearby window light is all that’s needed to light this mother and son.

2. Have a clear focal point

Open and close your eyes several times in front of your photograph.  What do your eyes fix upon?  Is it the same thing that caught your attention when you took the photo?  If not, try cropping the image until nothing upstages what your photograph is all about.

This image is all about an expectant father’s embrace.  Tight horizontal cropping keeps the focal point on the father-to-be.

3. Move in close, then closer still

Use a zoom, telephoto or your own two feet to move in close to your subject.  Macro modes or lenses are particularly great for close-ups of kids.  Focus on your subject’s eyes and don’t worry if the rest goes a bit blurry. 

The eyes have it!  Ask your child to look through your lens to see a “butterfly” (the shutter) flap its wings.

 4. Be mindful of the background

Keep the focus on your subject by avoiding a cluttered backdrop.  Look for an area with few distractions behind your subject, removing items if you need to, or change your position to the subject to choose the most clutter-free background possible.

A neutral-colored blanket adds some texture but does not take focus away from this beautiful baby girl (neither does the solid brown couch behind her).

5. Don’t settle down.

Probably the best piece of advice I can give anyone to improve the quality of the portraits they take is to keep moving!  Don’t stay fixed in one place – get above or below your subject, move to the side, move in closer, then further back.  There is always another perspective to consider.  If you stay put, you risk missing a position that would have made for a more interesting portrait.

Branches from a tree in the foreground frame this lovely little girl.

We hope these tips have been helpful.  Now start putting them to the test with more practice!   We’re launching a BabyLegs photo contest May 17th, with a chance to win a BabyLegs prize package valued at $200.  Stay tuned for more details!

One Thought on “Five Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Family Photographs

  1. Kelsie on May 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm said:

    Great tips! I love taking pictures of my daughter, but don’t have the best camera in the world!

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