Royal photographer Alexi Lubomirski reveals five top tips for the perfect family photo
Alexi Lubomirski may have photographed the likes of Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Nicole Kidman, Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez over the course of his career, but the majority of us will be most familiar with the stunning royal wedding shots of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle he captured earlier this year.
“They were such an easy couple to shoot - so obviously in love,” Alexi, 43, remembers.
Outside of work, Alexi says that his favourite subjects to snap are his wife, Giada, and his two young sons Sole Luca, eight, and Leone, five.
“Photographs of my family are incredibly important to me - they’re littered across my house and instantly connect me to a moment of happiness,” says Alexi. “Many people would choose their phone if they had to save one thing if their home was burning down, but I think I’d struggle not to take photos.”
Which is why Amnesty’s latest project to create the UK’s biggest family photo album to support its #FamiliesTogether campaign has chimed with Alexi so much.
The campaign wants restrictive UK rules to be eased, helping refugees who have lost their homes and been separated from their families be reunited. The photo album will be a celebration of family life today in all its glory and will be presented to the Home Secretary as a call to help the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who have been torn apart – giving them a chance to rebuild their lives and look forward to safe, happy futures together. Earlier this year MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing the rules keeping refugee families apart. Sajid Javid has the power to change these rules with the stroke of a pen.
“I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to be a refugee who has fled their entire life as they know it and arrived somewhere many hundreds of miles away, with no way to be reunited with their family,’ he says. ‘That one treasured family photo they might have carried along the way could be the only comfort they have. It is heartbreaking and I want to help change this.”
Alexi has shared his own precious photo for the album - a candid shot that his assistant took in his studio.
“I love this picture because it shows my two passions - family and photography. I was showing the kids my new camera and how it works - the photo is a simple one, just us playing together. My dream is that my boys become my assistants when they get a bit older. You get to travel a lot in my line of work, but quite often you don’t have the closest people in your life to share it with.”
To help with Amnesty’s campaign, Alexi has offered up five top tips to help you take the perfect family photo for Amnesty’s album - and thankfully, none of them involve any expensive bits of kit….
KEEP IT REAL
It’s easier said than done, but try not to force family pictures: “When you’re taking a family photo it can be easy to lose sight of why you’re taking it - for memories. Have fun, try not to worry about the kids wreaking havoc or pulling faces. You’ll probably look back and love that picture all the more for any ‘flaws’ you find.”
BE SNAP HAPPY
Alexi says more is definitely more when taking family photos: “If you’re taking pictures of a moment, just keep pressing that button. Take 50 and review them later - there will probably be a gem in there - maybe someone hysterically laughing or maybe a really natural, happy smile.”
WALK THE WALK
Make people stay too still when taking a photo and you’ll be setting yourself up for a bad result: “I’ll often try to get my kids to run towards the camera and I’ll walk backwards taking the photo . With children it makes them laugh and with adults it takes their mind off the photo being taken. It switches one side of the brain off and immediately helps a camera-shy person feel less awkward.”
… AND TALK THE TALK
“When I’m taking photos I don’t shut up - there’s nothing worse than waiting for your photo be taken while a photographer stands there silently. You need to encourage people and sometimes direct them. Praise them if the pictures looking great. This will boost their confidence and also make sure you frame the perfect shot. ”
LEARN TO USE LIGHTING
While family photos aren’t about looking your best, it’s worth remembering you’re almost guaranteed an unflattering shot if you take a photo outside in the middle of the day. “If the light’s directly above you, you’ll look awful - no matter if you’re a model or not,” he explains. “Pictures will generally look better in the late afternoon as the light is lower. And if you can take a shot under a tree, even better - here you get open shade light which is beautiful, soft and bounces nicely off people’s faces. You also get some interesting background environment in there too.’
● To submit to a photo to the UK’s Biggest Family Photo Album and be in with a chance of winning one of 13 Virgin Experience Days’ Family Segway Rally Days out as well as oneTiki Lodge Family Adventure Week in Wales worth £950, upload a photo to www.amnesty.org.uk/uk-biggest-family-photo-album.
● #FamiliesTogether is a coalition of over 20 organisations working to secure refugee family reunion in the UK including Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, Oxfam, Refugee Council and UNHCR. Visit amnesty.org.uk/familiestogether for more details. This campaign is supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.