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How to Take Your Own Family Portraits

Taking family portraits by yourself isn’t as hard as it sounds!  Though I have to be honest, it’s definitely harder than trying to take self-portraits of just the 2 of us.  It depends on a cooperating baby :)  With good timing (pun intended :)), it’s easy!  Before Kennedy arrived, Nick and I always ventured around taking timed self-portraits in new places that we visited.  All we needed was our camera and some kind of surface to set the camera on.  We set the camera up, focused everything, and then one of us ran into the picture before the timer went off.  It was fun!

With a baby, we wanted to be a little bit more calculated.  We probably don’t have the same amount of time to spend testing and taking pictures.  We brought along a tripod and a remote to trigger the camera shutter.  This way, we could literally take 10 pictures in 10 seconds.  It’s a lot more efficient!!  It worked amazing with Kennedy!  So, here’s how we did it:

>> WHAT YOU NEED:  A tripod, a camera, 2 Pocket Wizards, and a shutter release cable.

>> HOW TO SET IT UP:

  1. Set up your tripod:   I don’t think we really have to explain how to set this up – just open it up and wa laa!!  Here is the tripod that we use:  It’s a carbon fiber tripod by Manfrotto.  The carbon fiber is nice because it’s much lighter.  On this trip, we packed it up in a checked suitcase so we didn’t have to carry it.  Kennedy comes with a lot of luggage already :)
  2. Set up your camera & shutter release cable:  Using a remote shutter cable (make sure you get one that is compatible with your camera).  The D3s uses a 10-pin shutter release cable – we use this one from Flash Zebra.  Plug the cable into the camera’s connector.  This may vary per camera.  Ours is located on the front of the camera (top left).  
  3. Set up your remotes:  Plug the other end of the 10-pin cable into a Pocket Wizard.  Hold another Pocket Wizard in your hand.  Turn both of the Pocket Wizards on.  The one in your hand will act as the remote which will trigger the camera shutter.  
  4. Focus on your subject:  Make sure one person is standing off in the distance where you want to position your picture; have the other person focus the camera on your face.  We typically make sure the little red square is right on my face.  Then, do a test shot!
  5. Position yourself:  Make sure the remote is hidden behind someone or something so you don’t see it in the picture.  Nick and I always put our hands behind each other’s back.  You can’t even tell we’re holding anything :)

Without further ado, here are a few examples:  This is one of my favorite family pictures that we took. Because we went to Bermuda during off-season, we had Horseshoe Bay Beach practically to ourselves!
Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1Oh, heyyy!Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits2Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1Sorry, not sorry??

Bermuda 240The baby stroller also doubles as a tripod stroller.  Fits perfectly right into the carseat!
Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1I spy with my little eye a Pocket Wizard!!
Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits4We took all of these pictures in seconds…you just have to be quick with your poses.  Fortunately, we know a lot of them :)
Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits5Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits6Another favorite :)Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1Nick and Kennedy love selfies!
Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1And for those times when you don’t have a tripod or remote handy…only a long arm will do!Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1Sometimes it doesn’t always go as planned…
Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1But, I think she feels better :)Untitled_9161Bermuda travel photography, travel photographer, self portraits, family session, family self portraits1

Hopefully, some people will find this helpful on their next adventure!  Whether your going on a vacation or just taking pictures in your backyard, you’re sure to capture some great ones.  You might have to take a lot to get the perfect one, but practice makes perfect.  Just make the best of it and have a little fun with it!

  • A great blog and some excellent portrait images.

  • […] recently shared how we set up our self-portraits when we go on vacations or when we just need a good family picture.  You need some gear to make […]