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The family portrait is a huge long-standing pillar of photography. In fact, most of the oldest photos I’ve seen are photos of family. You know the ones where everyone looks super stoic all dressed up in their formal attire. Back then, the cameras were large, photos were shot (and processed) one plate at a time, and exposures were generally long — which probably explains why no one smiled. While a few photographers lugged that big equipment around and took shots other then family photos, most early photographers focused on families. Today, cameras are small and portable. We can shoot hundreds or thousands of shots before we have to “develop” (jump on our computer) our images. And, of course, it’s easier for us to go out and shoot a whole lot more than family portraits. Today though, I’d like to take us back to the family portrait theme… Bear in mind that families gather in many ways and for many reasons. Your goal is to take advantage of that with your camera, to step outside the box of formal family shots and jump into the middle of “everyday” family life. Think natural and “spontaneous moment in time” type shots. Here are five popular photo themes to get you started in photographing the modern family: 1. FAMILY DINNER (OR BREAKFAST, LUNCH, PICNIC…) The idea here is to photograph aspects of the family coming together around a meal. Lots of families have that one time of day where they sit down together to enjoy a meal. Try to capture the essence of that shared experience. It could be grandma and the kids baking cookies in the kitchen for desert, a picnic on the beach after a fun day of vacation, or the family gathered round the table for dinner. The opportunities are endless. The type of scenes can vary greatly depending on your family, where you live, your traditions, etc. Work on capturing the mood, the feeling, the food, the love. photos of family 2. FAMILY MOVIE (OR GAME) NIGHT While not all families have movie night (and this can be a much trickier theme to capture), the idea here again is about families coming together to enjoy a shared experience. Think about the parents, the kids, even the dog all sprawled out and piled on the couch. People tend to snuggle together. Maybe there are blankets and popcorn. Try shooting from the perspective of the TV. 3. FAMILY SHOPPING Grocery shopping is something most families (or at least one family member) do on a regular basis. How about piling the kids into the grocery cart and getting some shots as they roll through the produce section? Or grandma and grandpa as they take their paper grocery bags out of the trunk? Or how about going to the local farmer’s market? That would be a great place to get some family shopping shots and images of healthy food (plus, you won’t have to deal with all the labels and copyright issues). Of course, you could be shopping for school clothes or a new car… Whatever you’re shopping for, it’s about getting that slice of ordinary life captured on your camera. rsz_stocksy_txp76a222654fk000_small_94802 4. FAMILY BEDTIME Might sound a little strange, but here again is something that happens everyday, so there’s plenty of opportunity. Shots could be kids and a parent snuggled up reading a bedtime story, or a child brushing his teeth. Or how about ma and pa in robes and slippers walking off down the hall? Really anything that is part of your family’s bedtime routine and tells the story of your life around bedtime. rsz_stocksy_txp76a222654fk000_small_170146 5. FAMILY PLAY/ACTIVITY/OUTING When you go to the park with your dog and kids, take the camera. When you have a day at the bowling alley, take your camera. Heading to the beach to chase waves or fly a kite? Take your camera! If you have a family cabin, take your camera. Any and every type of fun family outing, day trip, or long weekend, be sure to take your camera. BONUS TIP: FAMILY PHOTO IN A PHOTO I once saw a super-clever photo that went something like this… A couple got married and took a wedding picture (imagine that). The next year, on their anniversary, they held the wedding picture and took another picture. They continued to do this, year after year, holding the previous year’s photo. So, over time, they ended up with all the years of marriage in one photo. Wild, right? This may be difficult to pull off – especially if you’re married many years. But you could use an old wedding picture, have your parents hold it, and take a photo something like this one. A really great way to tell the story of a life lived together. rsz_stocksy_txp76a222654fk000_small_517516 All of these themes are goldmines. Not just because they are great for your walls, photo albums, or to send to your faraway friends during the holidays, but they convey and tell the stories of our lives. They are also great subject matter for stock photos. And, while some of these have been covered more than others, most of them are not covered extremely well, especially in the context of family. Share on Facebook

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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