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5 Generational Photo Ideas for Your Next Family Photoshoot!

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One of photography’s most charming qualities is its ability to capture a moment in time. More specifically, capturing our loved ones to save these photos when there is a distance between us.

Making an effort to photograph loved ones in a fun way is always nice. Not only will it help you practise your portraiture, but it is also a great gift to give to your family to keep in the home.

Today, I will guide you through a few ways to take heartwarming generational photos. I will focus on methods that highlight the different generations. These are fun family pictures to make and display. They will provide fond memories from the youngest to the oldest in your family.

generational photo: a family portrait in front of their house

1. Inside the Frame Method

A fun technique to show the different generations of your family is the frame method. This technique involves some post-processing of the photographs. You can photograph each generation of your family holding a frame. Then in the editing process, you photoshop each image into the empty frame. This effect will give you a single photo that spirals down the timeline of your family.

An important aspect to remember is the person in the final photo should not be holding a frame. This is where the spiral will end. It makes sense to have the youngest family member here. First, they might not be able to hold the frame. Second, having the youngest at the front of the photo gives the illusion of travelling back through time.

You want to pay special attention when photographing the portraits with the frames inside. As you will be putting a photo inside a photo, you will want to see as much as you can as the image progresses. The photo will be more successful if the frame takes up a significant portion of the image. Make sure that the frame takes up no less than 80% of the picture.

Be cautious of how you hold the frame as well. If you are photographing in portrait mode, get the family member to hold the frame in a portrait manner. This will help you fill the photo with the frame.

generational photo idea: four separate portraits of each family member to be combined with photoshop
© Moose Photography

To make the photo look seamless, try to use the same background and lighting. This isn’t required, but it helps. Getting different family members to photograph their section is an excellent way to get the family together.

I would suggest not including more than four generations with this idea. If you use more, the final image may be too small and difficult to see. It all depends on how well you fill each photograph with the frame.

You can put a green screen inside the frame that the family member is holding. This will make the editing process a lot simpler. I also advise removing the glass in the frame for the same reason.

generational photo idea: the same four portraits above combined as one in photoshop
© Moose Photography

2. Holding an Empty Frame

Empty frames are a great way to create images inside an image. It creates a new context that adds importance to what’s inside the frame. It’s also good fun and offers plenty of chances to show creative ideas with different methods.

One way to do this is to get the oldest family members to hold a frame while standing close to the camera. Then you want to put the rest of your family further back so they all fit inside the frame. This method is nice as it suggests the oldest family members are displaying their greatest work of art—your beautiful family!

Another method is to give different frames to different family members. These can be of any size and shape. Each frame will create its own context, so your photograph will have many images inside of it. Make sure you swap frames with each other during the shoot! Experimentation is often a lot of fun and very rewarding.

You can also suspend a frame in the air. This idea is nice as it focuses on the context inside the frame.

With this method, make sure to photograph on a narrow aperture, such as f/22. Remember, the frame will be closer to the camera and the family further back. This aperture setting will ensure that everything is in focus.

Most cameras have a self-timer mode, so remember to get in the photo yourself!

a generational photo of a large family using the holding a frame technique
© Elizabeth Ann Photography

3. Holding Hands Through the Ages

Sometimes a small part of a person speaks volumes. Our hands say a lot about us. They are a clear sign of our age. Showing touch between generations may not mean a lot to some, but it does for the person in the photograph! This is especially relevant for younger members of the family who will cherish these images when they are older.

Try this method with two or more family members. You want to fill the frame with their hands, focusing on how they hold each other. Using a lower aperture number for this method will add a dreamy effect. This wider aperture will direct the focus even more than zooming in. It lets the background slip away.

generational picture example: one baby's hand holds the ring finger of the parent while the baby's other hand rests on the palm

4. Shoot in Black and White

If you are looking for a more serious approach to photographing the generations, photograph your family in black and white. Black and white gives a timeless effect and also adds a touch of elegance to portraits.

I would suggest framing the portrait in a formal manner. Try to mimic the classical poses that we see in the early days of photography. Have one or two family members sit and position the others around them.

Black and white images can be great for people who decorate their house in a particular style. Some cameras have a built-in black and white setting. If yours doesn’t, you can do this in most post-processing software. I would suggest also increasing the contrast a bit to make the photo more dramatic.

a black and white family portrait from many decades ago

5. Recreate Old Family Images

If you want to put your photography skills to the test, find your favourite old family photos and recreate them. This is a playful way to show the different generations. It will also bring a wave of nostalgia when displaying the new and old photos together.

You have to dissect the image—how they’re positioned, what they’re doing, and what they’re wearing. Try to be as meticulous as possible, as all these elements add to the success of the photograph. Maybe your father fed you in a special way, and now it’s your turn to feed your child. Perhaps you are passing through the area you grew up in and want to photograph your kids in that exact location.

This method is excellent to surprise other family members as a present or card. Photographs hold important memories. To recreate them is to add importance to the original.

generational photography: a new father recreates the same photo of him as a baby with his father
© Chelsea Vong

Conclusion

Photographs have the unique ability to freeze time. Generational photos are a great way to connect family members over many decades.

Photographing your family is also a great way to practise your photography skills. You won’t regret putting the time into photographing your family now. So get the whole family together and have some fun—the photoshoot itself will be an event to remember.

Look at our Dreamy Childhood Portraits course to really wow your children when they get older!

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