Book Review: Your Family in Pictures, Me Ra Koh (2014)

March 30th, 2015 11:56 am by Kelly Garbato

Forty Recipes for Gorgeous Family Photos

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through the Blogging for Books program.)

Me Ra Koh found solace in photography. After miscarrying her second child, Aidan – during the tail end of a two-year tour to promote her debut book, Beauty Restored: Finding Life and Hope After Date Rape, no less – Koh fell into a deep depression from which photography became her lifeline out.

In the twelve years since, she’s started a wedding photography business which evolved into a way to teach photography to children and moms, giving a “voice to the voiceless”; published multiple books on the subject (Your Family in Pictures is her third); and partnered with Disney to host a series on Disney Junior (Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh). Oh, and she’s also launched CONFIDENCE Photography Workshops for women around the country. (In fact, some of the photo recipes included in these pages were either contributed or tested by workshop participants.)

Your Family in Pictures builds upon her previous two books – Your Baby in Pictures and Your Child in Pictures – by focusing on ways to capture those fleeting family moments, including the more mundane scenes that we might otherwise take for granted. She begins by offering basic photography advice that’s applicable to most any situation (my favorite – “We have to be willing to miss shots to get greats shots.” – will likely prove the hardest for me to implement!), and then outlines forty “photo recipes” for creating innovative and breathtaking photos.

The “cookbook” portion of the book is by far the meatiest. Recipes are divided into five general groups – Everyday Life, Holidays, Family Portraits, Tweens & Teens, and Family Vacations & Travel – and include the four basic ingredients for creating a stunning image: when, prep, compose, and capture. Every member of the family – from the oldest to the youngest and even the nonhumans – is encouraged to get in on the fun, from planning and staging the photo to participating in the shoot. Koh also offers copious tips for working with more reticent subjects.

While clearly aimed at parents, Your Family in Pictures may prove useful to anyone looking to capture their immediate and extended families on film. Kids are a central focus, but much of the advice offered here is easily generalized and applicable across multiple situations. For example, I don’t have kids of my own – nor do I spend much time around kids – yet I picked up Your Family in Pictures hoping to improve my skills (beginner at best) and take “better” (professional; creative; aesthetically pleasing) pictures of my dogs. (I’ve had as many as seven rescue dogs at once; they are my family, through and through.) I definitely walked away with some new ideas, and was overjoyed to see that I was already doing a few things right.

Koh’s writing is accessible and engaging, though the recipes do assume a basic level of knowledge, including of your own camera: how it works, how to manually change the settings, etc. If you don’t yet have a camera – or are looking to invest in a new one – the appendix might point you in the right direction, with a brief guide a choosing to camera.

(This review is also available on Blogging for Books, Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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