Photography Lessons: Tips on Taking Family Photos

Photography Lessons

by Sandra Goroff


Every time we turn on the news lately, it seems we hear of yet another natural disaster that wipes out an entire town and leaves families without precious keepsakes. Family photos have to be among the most painful things to lose. They are among our dearest possessions.


My mother, aunt and grandmother and I on a summer’s day

All of this is a good reminder of the place of honor photography holds in our lives and why you should take lots of family photos – no matter what your skill level or equipment. You don’t need a special occasion and you don’t need to be an expert. You don’t need to own an expensive camera (yes I know many of you like to take photos with your cell phones and that’s just fine) with lots of gadgets and features.  You are not photographing for National Geographic or being judged in an international competition. Enthusiasm, curiosity and practice are among your most valuable tools.

Photography Lesson – Tips:
francey & harry elli#90D7BC

Aunt Francey and Cousin Harry

  • Take lots of photos of your family; don’t wait for special occasions.
  • Be playful, be spontaneous, try to capture narrative images; photos that tell stories.
  • When photographing a couple or a group, I often ask people to look at one another or move closer together when i am taking their photo; when I do this, I am trying to elicit expressions and connections. I am hoping that the shot, in addition to showing how they looked at that moment in time, will also convey how they feel about one another.
  • Most importantly, don’t dawdle — be fast and take a lot of shots — you can choose your favorite after the fact.
  • Keep your battery charged, your memory card in place and your camera close by all times (this is always easier said than done).
Ellens Wedding

My mom, her sisters and my grandmother

Looking back at my own collection of family photos, the ones I treasure most evoke closeness and are narrative, One of my all time favorites was one I took of my mother and her two best friends on Mother’s Day about ten years ago. I had taken them all to lunch and brought a single long stemmed rose for each. While I prefer not to pose my subjects, I had each put a rose in their teeth. Even though I had essentially set up the shot — their reactions and expressions were completely spontaneous. At 85 years old and up,


My mother and her two bed friends on Mother’s Day

they were giggling like little girls and I was there to catch the fun. Each of my mother’s friends passed away within five years of the shot and my mother last December. I keep this photo out and framed and it gives me an enormous amount of pleasure. I cant begin to say how happy I was I took it — especially now that my mother is gone.

You will truly treasure the photos you take now for years to come. There are a myriad of reasons why it is worth the effort and why you should make the time.

Sandra Goroff is a long time art and literary publicist nationally and internationally. Her passions are photography, art, antiques, watercolor and design (fiance Burt and cat, Benjamin). She has worked with such notable talents such as : Colin Cowie, antiques and collectibles expert, Judith Miller, Garrison Keillor, Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg, Clive Cussler, Tom Peters and Newbury Street (Boston) Art Gallery.


Look for Sandra’s new photography book, Solitary Soul, which will be published in November, 2013 by Lorimer Press.
You can find Sandra’s work on:

Twitter:  Sandra Goroff at @sandygm
Facebook at Sympatico Photography by Sandra Goroff
Pinterest at Sandra Goroff
Professional Website:
Solitary Soul Website:

Share this!

Subscribe to our RSS feed. Tweet this! StumbleUpon Reddit Digg This! Bookmark on Delicious Share on Facebook