In this guide I’ll be giving you 30 family photography tips on what to do before you go into your first family photography session. I think these ideas and tricks can help across the board whether that are family portraits or a senior session. These are just things that I typically do before I go into a photoshoot.
Undoubtedly, family photography may seem very stressful for the first time. However, if you find the right approach to your models, you can avoid these worries. My clients are always surprised that photo shoots can be so fun and positive. Learn how to enjoy your work, and you will get great family photos.
As usual, most people pose for family portraits for the first time. It is natural that many of them do not know how to behave correctly and feel confident. You have to break the tension by talking to your clients. Take into account all their wishes. Speak about the result they want to get from this photo shoot. However, you should avoid controversial themes such as religion and politics. You should not discuss their job and personal lives too. I’ve prepared these photography marketing templates with an example of a customer questionnaire to help you become acquainted with your clients better.
Every detail matters a lot in family photography. Do not rush to start working without checking your photo equipment. You also need to make sure that the composition, lighting, and interior satisfy you and your customers. Ask your models about their well-being and special wishes regarding the photoshoot. Check the weather forecast when working outdoors.
Heads of your models should not be at the same level. Avoid strict symmetry. Use additional supports. You can bring lightweight folding chairs. If your customers are standing, make sure that their heads do not create a straight line, place people in a checkerboard pattern. This way, you will get great family photos.
If you like posing apps with photos of real people, this is the perfect option for you. Pocket Poser will offer you a lot of variants for both men and women.
Everyone has his/her own winning and unsuccessful angles. Of course, some people just exaggerate their flaws. However, if your clients feel uncomfortable and insecure, listen to their wishes and find better angles. Always choose convenient family portrait poses.
Family Posing Tricks
When you are engaged in family photography, always choose the time that could be convenient for children. You can hardly take great family photographs with hungry and sleepy children. I advise you to combine a fun time for kids and good lighting.
Remember, too many rows can overload the picture. Try not to place your models in the same plane. However, sometimes there are situations when it is impossible. For example, if there are a lot of people in the picture, try to create two rows. People should be maximally close to each other. This way you can focus better and get clear family photos.
This book will help you understand the basics of family photos, in particular photos of children who are always active and often do not like to pose.
Good jokes will be an excellent method for photographing sincere smiles and taking lifestyle photographs. First of all, make the children laugh. Their laughter will create the right positive atmosphere for all family members. Remember, kids can laugh at everything, so you do not need to be a professional comedian to cope with this task.
If you see the nostrils of the models, then your lens is too low. Move your camera a little higher or propose your models to change their poses. When shooting large groups, always leave small areas of space between people's heads. Draw imaginary triangles or circles to place family members correctly. Do not be afraid to look for unusual angles, shoot lying on the ground, or vice versa, being above objects.
Family photography is a great opportunity to advertise your services and products and make successful deals. Propose your customers to order printing of family portraits on canvas or creating a professional family photo book or album.
There are many methods of focusing suitable to work in this area. However, focusing on the center is the best family photography focusing option.
If you are shooting lifestyle photos, I advise you to use bigger aperture camera settings, for example, f/2.2, for individual portraits. To work on a group portrait, prefer a smaller value, for example, f/5.6, to improve the focus.
As a rule, family photography requires a higher shutter speed. This is due to the fact that you often have to shoot small children who move very quickly. I advise you to use 1/250 at the beginning of the photoshoot. Adjust this value in the process of work, depending on the activity of your models. If you need to shoot a very fast movement, use higher shutter speed, such as 1/800.
I advise you to use the automatic settings for family portraits during your first photo shoots. You will get a decent result and will not be distracted during the working process. Learn how to work with aperture first, and then you will be able to start mastering ISO. Watch the Capturing The Modern Family Portrait course by Tamara Lackey to know everything about camera settings recommended for family photos.
This format will help you while color correction and photo editing. You will get more vivid colors and clear details.
In order to find the perfect lighting for family outdoor photos, plan on shooting at the “golden hour”. This is the time of day one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. The light at that time is falling just perfectly. You will get rid of the problem of harsh light and the photos will be filled with a delicate golden hue that is so appreciated in warm family photoshoots.
Natural evening light is ideal for portrait photography. Unlike too bright day sun, you can get a very soft, slightly diffused light, which perfectly emphasizes the necessary details. Use applications to determine the best time of day for shooting.
This app can predict lighting throughout the day and work in real time. The program tracks the path of the Sun, the Moon and other celestial bodies using the screen of your smartphone and determines the best time for a photo session.
While the lighting conditions in such situations are softer than under direct sunlight, the light’s direction is far from ideal. When shooting under an overcast sky, the light will fall directly from above, leading to darker faces especially if the models have deeply set eyes.
It’s important to identify when you need to shed more light on the subjects’ faces. If there’s no catchlight (the light source being visible in the model’s eyes), then their faces require additional lighting.
A very useful foldable multidisc lighting reflector available in 5 color solutions. Highly recommended to remove unwanted shadows while shooting outdoors.
When it comes to outdoor family photography, having the light come from the right direction is equally as crucial as shedding it on the eyes. As mentioned above, overhead lighting isn’t the way to go, the same is for light coming from the front. Thus, using the camera’s integrated flash or attaching a speedlight isn’t going to cut it. Frontal lighting tends to make the models flatter, which is something you want to avoid. Ideally, the light should be sent from the side at about 30o or 45o from the photographer.
If you need some help coming up with creative ideas, here’s a rundown of the top 15 family photography ideas I like to use for photography family photos.
1. Casual Conversation on the Couch
Gather on a sofa and have a nice little chat as you regularly would. Family portraits depicting normal, day-to-day moments have a unique, heartwarming charm to them.
2. Use the Kitchen as Your Location
If the interior of your kitchen is bright and spacious, why not to take some photographs in it? You can even allow your children to hop onto the counter for such a special occasion.
3. Take Some Chill Pictures on the Bed
This idea is great if you want to help everyone relax and act casually. You can either read a beautiful book, lie on your stomachs in a line or on your backs, allowing the photographer to take top-down photos. The photographer can experiment with lots of interesting angles in this scenario. Just allow him/her to direct you.
4. Have Fun in the Pool
If you’re planning on taking some outdoor family portraits during summer, use your pool as the location. Jump into the water, splash around and simply enjoy yourselves. You’re bound to capture some unforgettable moments.
5. Add Boho Vibes
If you’re a fan of the freedom-loving bohemian style, I suggest you implement its elements into your family photography. This picture perfectly represents how a boho-themed portrait might look like.
6. On the Road
Road trips are known for their free-spirited atmosphere and the sense of adventure. Organizing a photoshoot dedicated to this theme and taking photos of everyone posing in front of an RV always provides terrific results!
7. Baseball Funs
Sports of any kind, not necessarily baseball, are a great choice for summer family photography. All you need is some equipment connected with the sport and you’ll receive beautiful, atmospheric photographs.
8. Incorporate a Teepee
Adding a teepee is a great way of turning boring backyard pictures into something special. Such a prop makes the portraits more fun, adventurous and boho-styled.
9. Multicolored Balloons
Balloons bring joy to everyone, and children are especially ecstatic about them. Use balloons for your photography family pictures and they’ll be filled with smiles. You can also replace balloons with multicolored plastic balls to achieve a similar effect.
Spend some time drawing doodles and writing funny phrases on the chalkboard to highlight your personalities and share some stories! If it’s a large board, you can even employ it as a background.
I suggest using a wooden wagon for your family images if you want to add some rustic charm to them. Your children will love messing around with it, and you’ll take amazing portraits full of laughter and happy faces.
12. Go for a Walk in the Park
Every park has a place or two that can serve as a fantastic background for some professional photos, you just need to know where they are.
13. Go for a Stroll
Walk around the streets and search for suitable places for a family picture. A rarely visited path with a breathtaking landscape in the background would be perfect.
14. Stand in Front of a Bright Wall
This is the simplest solution if you lack family photography ideas or opportunities to do something creative. Just pose in front of a bright wall and focus on showing your emotions and feelings. Your happy faces and light background will produce excellent results.
15. Take Candid Shots
Some people always feel awkward during a photo shoot even if they manage to find a photographer they really like. If you’re one of them, consider asking the shooter to take candid photographs. Talk with your family members, tell some jokes and just behave naturally.
Communicate with the family and let them know that if they dedicate enough time to choosing clothes ahead of time, there’ll be less stress before the shoot. Moreover, it’s always good to have several options, particularly when it comes to dressing children.
Choosing the correct color palette for a family shoot is quite challenging. Begin by picking colors that go with each other well. It’s possible to create a unified look without dressing everyone up in the same clothes. Moreover, excessive matching would only damage the photo idea. Select a couple of primary colors, mix them up with a few softer tones, and you’ll have a complete color palette.
All seasons have various colors linked to them, weather and nature. This is an important factor to keep in mind when you’re choosing everyone’s attire and coming up with family photography ideas.
It’s an important aspect to consider when picking clothing for everyone, but it’s especially relevant when dressing your kids. If they don’t feel comfortable in what they’re wearing, the shoot may end up being longer and more stressful than it should have been.
Tiny accessories can be used to complement your attire and even tie together the look of the entire family. For instance, if the father has a plaid shirt, having the daughter wear a plaid hat will add a more cohesive feel to the picture. Such accessories, as scarves, purses, hats, belts, etc., are also useful for making the photographs more varied.
A lot of households like to take great family photographs during the winter holidays since there’s no school and it’s easier to get everyone together. It also seems like the perfect time to add some Santa hats and other seasonal decorations to the photos. However, you have to remember that those pictures will be on display for the whole year. That’s why it’s better to not use any seasonal props that will seem out of place in the summer.
If someone’s attire has several patterns or huge logos, they will distract the viewer. Eye-catching prints and colorful patterns draw too much attention to them. One of the best family photography advice I can give you is to avoid them if you want your family to be in the focus and not your clothing. Stick to basic patterns and textures.
By having all the individual outfits laid out next to one another, you can better see what goes together well and what clashes too much. Moreover, this is also an efficient method of ensuring you aren’t forgetting about any important clothing items.
Ideally, the majority of the photos should only require small color correction changes (exposure and white balance correction). Dedicate the same amount of time to all photographs, without picking favorites. It’s all too easy to get stuck editing a picture you liked the most for an entire hour, but that’s a waste of time.
In order to edit images quickly, you no longer have to make the same adjustments time after time. All you need to do is take advantage of various Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that already contain all the necessary settings.
I suggest you applying this autumn-themed preset to images that would benefit from a tender touch. It will add a slight blur, make the skin softer and establish a warm, slightly moody atmosphere. It’s perfectly suited for autumn portraiture.
This preset is primarily designed for family photography since it’s perfect at highlighting the skin’s softness and adding a subtle glow to the face. The preset applies an effect that adds several pink tones to the photo.
This autumn preset is used to improve the lighting of the shot, with more light being added near the center of the photo. The effect will be especially visible in dark photographs as it gives them a vintage appeal. The preset emphasizes how beautiful nature in autumn is and I recommend using it for portraits.
This preset performs manipulations with black and white points, which is something you see in film. Even though it’s a B&W preset, the created colors are warm while the photo gains a matte effect and vintage film grain that make it unique.
This subtle preset makes the image more dramatic, applies a slight blue tint while making the photo more eye-catching and expressive. It also makes the other colors slightly darker and more contrasting, while the model’s skin gains a colder tint.
Did you ever feel like your photographs lack adorable little snowflakes? This action will solve that problem. It adds snowflakes that are carefully spread across the image and helps create a cozy winter backdrop. It’s amazing for outdoor family photography and looks especially great in children photos.
It’s quite common for people to have light-red or overly pale skin on photographs. This action makes the skin tone smoother and more natural, while its texture is preserved. This is done in a subtle way, as the image looks unretouched thanks to the efforts of the action’s designers.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.