Can you imagine having a graduation ceremony, a birthday party or family gathering without a camera on hand? Pictures taken during special family events provide a continuing history as the family changes and grows. These photos also add depth to the family profile.
Many family gatherings really begin some time before the event takes place. There are activities such as planning, food preparation and room decorating. Don't forget these as part of the photo record.
At the time of the event, be sure to capture the happy faces of the guests as they greet each other. As the party progresses, you're likely to find the guests gathering in small groups to reminisce. Photograph them in animated conversation. This is a good way of including everyone in at least one informal shot.
Sometimes a special party is hosted by an organization or a church. This can be a time when family and friends get together in celebration. If the event is an eightieth birthday party, for example, you'll want a picture of the cake, and lots of shots of the honored guest. Also, be sure to get some pictures of the ones serving the cake, those serving punch, the person at the guest book, and the people in the kitchen.
But organized events aren't the only ones for which it's appropriate to take pictures. Planning a home-improvement project? Take a few before and after shots, and lots of them while the work is in progress, covering each phase.
Take pictures of everyday activities, too. Catch your son mowing the lawn, your daughter at the wheel of her new car, your spouse vacuuming.
Is there a golfer in your family? A tennis player, swimmer, or skier? Does your family enjoy camping or bowling together? These and similar activities are naturals as photo subjects. But more sedentary hobbies, such as stamp or coin collecting, knitting or crocheting, and playing chess are also very photographable.
Don't forget the basics. Remember to take vertical shots when appropriate. A skier is vertical, but a downhill skier descending a slope is moving horizontally (well, actually diagonally), so take your choice.
Beware of the background, but don't make it an obsession. In family photos, the subject matter is strong enough to outweigh most potentially competing objects, with the exception of a tree or light post appearing to grow from a subject's head.
After the fabulous family photos have been processed and/or downloaded, don't stow them away in shoe boxes in a closet in a back room, or in the computer, or on disks. Look them over, and mount the best ones in readily accessible albums, but make sure the pages are of archival quality. Pictures that are property stored can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Don't forget to share your best shots. Have reprints made, and pass copies on to those appearing in the pictures. Enlargements of your very best family photos can be displayed in your home. And remember that a photograph makes a great gift for a special occasion such as a birthday, a graduation, or an anniversary.