Family Photo Tips While Social Distancing, Part 1

March 2020 - Social Distancing

While this is a time of great uncertainty in our world, this is also an incredibly interesting time where many families have to spend time with just…each other. I am like a lot of other workers in the US where my work has been postponed indefinitely, so I’ve been brainstorming ideas to help my clients. One way is to send out tips for documenting this time together in pictures. Our family has been taking long outings for fresh air, and I’ve been trying to photograph moments to remember. I hope these tips help you also keep a sort of photo journal of this time.

Some basic info before the first tip:

Do I need a fancy camera?

When we’re out walking, biking, I don’t want to bring my camera. It’s bulky, expensive, and my kids have PKS – photographer kids syndrome. When they see the camera, they run. No, the phone camera is just fine, and all of the photos in this post were taken with an iPhone 7 or 8 plus. At the time of this post, the latest is iPhone 11, so you don’t even need the latest and greatest. Kids are such natives to the camera phone whipping out that it doesn’t seem to bother them as much. And these photos aren’t about being pro quality but capturing your life now.

Do I need Photoshop?

All these photos were either unedited or edited right in the phone with the standard editing functions. I LOVE Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and all my professional photos go through one or both, but not these.


The default is for you to stand and hold the camera right in front of your chest, no matter where your subject is. This often is not the best angle.

Go low

This one is really my favorite. Going low can remove a lot of distraction. Living room a crazy mess with EVERYONE home all day? Bring the camera all the way to the ground and shoot up – your ceiling’s not messy, is it?

In these photos, we were on top of a little hill overlooking some townhouses.

looking over hillside to townhouses

By bringing the camera all the way to the ground, we can remove a lot of that distraction. This is the same direction, but from the ground, which removes all but just a little bit from the tops of the houses.

Going low also gives an illusion of height, making photos more interesting. My daughter really can’t jump super high, but bringing the camera all the way to the ground makes it look like she can.

3 image collage of toddler smiling and playing

Seeing this picture, both my daughters wanted me to photograph them over and over again, and even my husband joined in.

family jumping in air

Taking the same photo standing up and holding the camera at chest height results in this:

family jumping in air social distancing

Not nearly as dramatic, right?

Going low also gives interest to an otherwise boring landscape. Using depth of field and an interesting angle, you can use that boring landscape to your advantage.

collage of two photos of girl laying on ground social distancing

Now, I don’t think you always need to get low. These photos below just focus on different things and sometimes you want to capture more of the environment. It’s nice to experiment and try both.

family sitting on bench
family sitting on bench

What are some other ideas to use this concept at home? When children are reading or doing some school work, get down really low at book level. When baby is in the bathtub, don’t shoot downward, but get the camera all the way down at water level (please don’t drop the phone!). It helps with modesty too :). You’ll be amazed at how different the photos look!

Go high

I can’t imagine if we were having this social distancing need in freezing weather. Our bikes are probably never going to get this much usage. For this photo, I held my phone away from me and asked my daughter to ride her bike underneath it. The volume buttons can take the photo so you don’t need your other hand.

girl riding bike social distancing

Has this time turned into family game time too? Document that in creative ways by going high. How did I get this photo? We taped the phone to the ceiling and used the timer function. Painter’s tape wasn’t strong enough so we used gorilla tape since it was only going to be on there a minute. Note that at night, your phone photos will be grainier and take on color casts. Don’t worry if you’re taking something environmental like this.

family playing game view from above

That’s my first tip for photos while social distancing!

I don’t know how many more there will be, but make sure you subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already to get future tips, and leave me a comment or tag me on Instagram or Facebook @robinsgambatiphotography to show me your social distancing family photos taken with this tip!

Social distancing isn’t a great phrase – it’s only physical distancing, right? We can be still be social! Sign up below for my newsletter to get future tips.

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