Simon Wiffen

How to shoot beautiful family photography at home

Here are my top tips, techniques and gear recommendations for how to shoot beautiful family photography at home.

You don’t have to be out and about to capture beautiful photographs of your children. The homes we live in may not strike you as being particularly photogenic but if you think about it how many of your childhood memories revolve around the house you grew up in?

Beautiful, relaxed black and white family photography by Leeds photographer Simon Wiffen

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.”

Robert Brault

Look with a fresh pair of eyes

It’s common to become blind to the spaces we spend most of our time in. We scroll through Instagram to see feeds of stunning images of beautiful cities around the world, wishing we lived somewhere so beautiful. Our everyday becomes so mundane we lose sight of the beauty in the places around us. Sometimes when things become too familiar you have to look a little harder.

Family photography is a wonderful genre. Children grow up so fast and we don’t always notice day to day. One day we think “When did they get so big?”. Photography gives us the ability to capture precious moments that you’ll love today and that your children will love in years to come.

Tips for shooting family photography at home

For many of us, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis means a lot of time in isolation. Why not use that time to experiment and practice improving your family photography at home.

Here are some tips you can try to help you capture beautiful family photography at home:

Don’t aim for perfect, aim for real

Don’t get hung up on trying to pose perfect images. Instead, try and capture what’s happening naturally. Relaxed, informal images will give a much truer representation of the memories you’re capturing.
Family photography at home - Boy building a jigsaw with his mum

Capture everyday routine

Always be on the lookout for photographic opportunities. Don’t just look for special moments, but also try and document your everyday routine. In amongst the routine there are wonderful memories that deserve to be remembered.
Family photography at home - Boy painting

Remember favourite toys

How many of us look back fondly on memories of our favourite toys as a child? By incorporating toys into your photographs you can not only remember what your child loved to play with the most, but also how it made them feel!
Black and white portrait of a young boy smiling and playing Scalextric at Christmas

Natural light photography

When shooting photography in the home try and make use of natural light where you can. A large window can produce beautiful soft light that can really make your photos pop.
Natural light photography of a boy looking out of a window

Playing in the garden

If you’re lucky enough to have an outside space at home then make the most of it! If your children love to play in the garden then capture the adventures they get up to.
Black & white photograph of a young boy playing in a garden

Capture precious moments

Shooting family photography at home doesn’t always mean just capturing your everyday routine. Special occasions like birthdays, Christmas and halloween all offer their own unique photographic opportunities.
Black and white family photography of a boy carving a halloween pumpkin

Think about composition

Although we’re concentrating on capturing natural, relaxed images, don’t forget to remember your composition. Think about whether there are new ways to look at your home or new angles that can give a different perspective on what you’re shooting.

Incorporate the environment

Don’t forget to incorporate the surrounding environment into your shots. Sometimes stepping back and including more of the elements around the subject of your photograph can really help to give extra context to the story you’re capturing.
Beautiful, relaxed black and white family photography by Leeds photographer Simon Wiffen

Make it fun

Don’t forget to have fun! Don’t let your photography detract from the memories you’re trying to capture. Let the scene happen naturally and be ready to capture the moments as they happen. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful images that you’ll cherish for years to come.
Family photography at home - Children playing with toy cars

What lenses are best for family photography at home?

When you’re taking photos in the home ideally you’ll want to shoot with a relatively fast lens. If you’re following the tips above you’ll be looking for nice pockets of natural light but you’re still going to want to use a fairly wide aperture to avoid having to crank your ISO too high.

It doesn’t matter if you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus etc. It’s really the focal lengths and the aperture that are the important things here. Every manufacturer offers similar lenses.

I’m a Canon shooter so my go to lenses for shooting at home are below:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

I absolutely adore 50mm as a focal length. I’ve written previously about why every photographer should own a 50mm lens. My 50mm is the lens that stays on my camera so I’m always ready to ‘grab and go’. As a result, the majority of my photos taken at home are with this lens.

I love the 50mm focal length because it’s such a close match to the natural eye (on a full frame camera). This means when you look back at the images they’re how you remember them. It’s a perfect way to capture a memory in a photograph. The f/1.2 aperture lets in a huge amount of light so you can shoot handheld in low light and still get beautiful, sharp results without needing to compromise your image quality by pushing the ISO too hard.

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

Like I’ve said in my tips above, sometimes it’s great to incorporate more of the environment in your shots. For these kind of shots I tend to reach for my 35mm. I’d love to own the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM but for now I shoot on the non-L f/2 version and I have to say I absolutely love it. The build quality is superb (Far, far better than my old EF 50mm f/1.4 lens) and optically it’s great. The built in IS offers up to 4 stops of image stabilisation which is wonderful for low light photography.

Final words

Remember, family photography is all about telling stories and having fun. I hope you’ve found the tips above useful and that they help you to capture your own story. I’d love to hear if you have any other tips – let me know in the comments below.

Stay safe x

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About me

About me

I'm Simon Wiffen, an award-winning photographer, husband, dog owner, record collector and dad of three.

For image usage enquiries or to discuss a photography brief please give me a call or drop me an email and I’d be happy to talk through some ideas.

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