30 Family Photography Tips for a Successful Photoshoot

30 Family Photography Tips

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.

30 Family Photography Tips for Photographers

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.

Tip 1. Talk with Your Clients Beforehand

Questionnaire #1


Questionnaire #2


Questionnaire #3


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.

Tip 2. Remember about the Important Details

family portraits

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.

Tip 3. Experiment with Poses

photography family

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.

Pocket Poser Pro

app for family photography poses ideas

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.

iphone app store

Tip 4. Choose Flattering Poses

family photography

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

  • Trick #1. Use a wide-angle lens if someone has a bigger bottom half. Do not focus on these body parts.
  • Trick #2. Point the camera above eye level to hide the second chin. This way, a person’s face and neck look thinner.
  • Trick #3. Usually, a little hump on the nose is visible when turning the head in a certain direction.
  • Trick #4. If you are photographing a couple with a noticeable height difference, ask one of the partners to put one foot in front and the other one behind. It will make him/her visually shorter and the difference less visible.
  • Trick #5. If your customers are shy of their weight, ask the parents to lie down on the grass and place the children directly on them.

Tip 5. Choose a Convenient Time for Children

great family photographs

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.

Tip 6. Avoid Multiple Rows

outdoor family portraits

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.

Tip 7. Capture Real Emotions

outdoor family photography

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.

Tip 8. Find Proper Angles

portrait families

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.

Tip 9. Set up Sales of Your Services and Products

best family photography

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.

Tip 10. Focus on the Center

focus for great family photos

There are many methods of focusing suitable to work in this area. However, focusing on the center is the best family photography focusing option.

Tip 11. Adjust Aperture Correctly

aperture for professional family photography

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.

Tip 12. Increase Shutter Speed

shutter speed for outdoor family photography shutter speed for family photography

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.

Tip 13. Apply ISO Auto Settings

auto iso for family portraits

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.

Tip 14. Prefer RAW Format

raw vs jpeg for children portraits photography

This format will help you while color correction and photo editing. You will get more vivid colors and clear details.

Tip 15. Don’t Neglect the Importance of Lighting

lighting for outdoor family portraits

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.

Tip 16. Choose a Suitable Time of the Day

best time for outdoor family photography

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.

Sun Seeker - Tracker & Compass

app for family photography

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.

iphone app store

Tip 17. Don’t Take Photographs on Completely Overcast Days

best time for outdoor family photography

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.

Tip 18. Use Reflectors

family photographers using reflector

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.

Neewer 5-in-1 Reflector

A very useful foldable multidisc lighting reflector available in 5 color solutions. Highly recommended to remove unwanted shadows while shooting outdoors.

Tip 19. Ensure That the Light Falls From the Side

family portrait ideas

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.

Tip 20. Browse Pinterest

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

family portrait pose ideas

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

family portrait poses

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

family photography ideas

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

outdoor family photography poses

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

family portrait studio

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

family portrait ideas

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

family portrait pose ideas

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

outdoor family portrait ideas

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

cool family portrait poses

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.

family photography

10. Chalkboard

family portraits

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.

11. Wagon

children portraits photography

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

professional photos of family

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

family portraits

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

photography family

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

photography family photos

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.

Tip 21. Discuss Family Portrait Clothing Ideas

family portrait clothing ideas

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.

Tip 22. Pick Colors That Complement Each Other but Don’t Match

family portraits what to wear

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.

Tip 23. Adapt Your Color Palette to the Current Season

family portrait clothing ideas

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.

Tip 24. Give Preference to Practical Clothes

family photos what to wear

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.

Tip 25. Add Texture

family portrait poses

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.

Tip 26. Consider Universal Clothing

family portraits

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.

Tip 27. Avoid Complex Patterns or Big Logos

family portrait clothing ideas

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.

Tip 28. Set Each Outfit Side by Side

family portrait ideas

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.

Tip 29. Prefer Natural Photo Editing

retouching of family photographyretouching of family photography

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.

Tip 30. Make Use of These FREEBIES

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.

Light and Airy Lightroom Preset "Pastel"

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.

Pastel Color Preset Lr "Pink Toning"

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.

Fall Lightroom Presets "Warm"

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.

Preset Lr Film Free "Apple Juice"

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.

Free Cool Lr Preset "Soft Light"

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.

PS Action "Christmas Tree"

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.

Photoshop Action Free Portrait "Burn"

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.

Tata Rossi

Hi there, I'm Tata Rossi - a professional blogger, read more