Your teen’s phone is probably filled with hundreds of photos they’ve taken to get that perfect selfie or shot for social media. Yours, on the other hand, is probably filled with pretty average snaps of them taken in a huge hurry, while you had their attention for a precious few seconds.
It’s so important to spend some time taking some really great photos of your teenagers, though, especially in a family group. Trust us, now ours are that little bit older, it’s something we wish we’d done so much more. They’re so wonderful to look at around the house once your teens have moved on or gone to uni. They also make thoughtful, personal gifts for grandparents and other relatives.
This brilliant article from Your Teen magazine is a great one to show your teenagers to help them understand why it’s so important that family photos last beyond the early years.
Why are so many teens reluctant for you to take their photo?
Photographer David Peterson says it better than we could:
“Some teenagers are just shy, and that’s ample enough reason to avoid a camera. Others don’t like the way they look in photographs—you remember the teenaged years, of course, did you feel your best with your brand new not-so-perfect complexion and awkward, angly teenaged body? And some teenagers don’t want to be photographed just because, well, they don’t. Pausing for a photograph is, in a way, relinquishing control of a small part of your life, and one thing teenagers are constantly rebelling against is those adults who are still trying to exercise some control over their lives. When you shoot a selfie you don’t have to use it, show it to anyone or hang onto it at all unless you’re completely happy with it. That picture your mom shot of you on a family trip to the beach, on the other hand, you have no control over that one.”
So, what can you do to make taking great family photos with teens easier? Here are a few tips that will work for both unofficial photo shoots with your iPhone or for a shoot with a photographer.
1. Plan in advance
Who knows what to do with their hands when they’re being photographed? Certainly not us!
When we were doing a photo shoot in lockdown and needed to use our own teens, they spent some time on Instagram working out what to do with their arms and hands. It made a huge difference.
Get your teenagers to do a bit of research about what looks natural in front of the camera. It might sound as if it’s taking it all a bit too seriously but getting them involved in an area where they are the pros (and let’s face it, they’ll be able to find great advice online a lot quicker than you can!) can really help.
Even if you don’t want highly posed pictures, working out what not to do will help overcome initial nerves. Then everyone can start moving around, messing about and generally making it wonderful.
2. Allow them creative control
Teens love nothing more than being treated as adults and discussing what will help them feel relaxed, natural – and, vital for teens, looking their best – in front of the camera will really pay off.
Let them choose their own outfits and style; allow them to embrace their individuality.
Make sure everyone has a turn behind the camera as well as in front of it and you will get a great set of photos to put together; wonderful as a gift.
It’s also important that they understand these photos are for you and for family. They won’t be shared on social media unless you have their express permission. It’s only polite!
3. Set aside an agreed amount of time
Most teens have a low boredom threshold and prefer to work fast and move on. Make sure everyone understands ahead of the photos shoot what you’re expecting of them in terms of time. Over-estimate and then they’ll be pleasantly surprised when you finish early!
4. Have fun
Don’t force polite smiles. Try to encourage them to chat, laugh and have as much fun as possible. Talking to each other just beforehand is a great tip for looking natural. However, make sure they’re not talking when the shot is being taken! Maybe bring up a favourite family memory that you know makes everyone giggle…
Allow them to try out silly poses and generally get creative. Encourage them to suggest some really inventive ideas – water balloons, confetti, acrobatics. Again, if they help with the planning, you will get better results.
We hope these tips on how to get great family photos with your teens will do the trick! And if you want to encourage your teens further, take a look at our article on printing photos.
Louise & Anna x