I took my first family photo when I was 13. The occasion was my grandparents’ wedding anniversary, and the whole clan of aunts, uncles, cousins and such had assembled. Something like 30 people in all. I wrangled everyone into position, put the camera on the tripod, framed up, set the self timer and ran. The result was a blurry mess. I’d forgotten to focus.
After that auspicious start, I’ve gone on to botch a number of family photos in often entirely predictable ways. Heads cut off, lens not fully attached (a particular problem with one of my Hexar RF bodies), shutter above the flash sync, DSLR left at 1600. You name the newb mistake, I’ve made it. I only seem to do this with my family. I’ve done plenty of fine group photos of people not related to me. Establish a blood tie, and it’s all over.
Family candids I’ve got down pat. I’m the HCB of Alofs’ family candid photos. Realy, I am. See:
Can’t you see the cross generational love?
It’s just the posed ones that present a problem.
I’ve recently begun to suspect that this less to do with my skill as a photographer, and more to do with how I relate to my family. Sure, I could use more practice doing group photos, but this stuff isn’t rocket science. My family are lovely people, generous, kind, inteligent and witty, and they have always supported my photography. But I’m the baby of the family, and they’ve gotten used to me needing help with things, so they also try to help in the one place I’m probably OK. “Wouldn’t the light be better outside?” or “Shouldn’t I close the drapes?” or “Don’t you think you should take the lens cap off?” etc etc. Peppered with suggestions, I invariably crumble. Sometimes with catastrophic/hilarious results. Such as this:
Never tell your older sister that her smile is too goofy . . . even if it is
I’m not sure Mom is going to want that one for her Christmas cards. For the sake of the family, I’m leaving my tripod behind when I go home for Christmas.