The Complete Guide to Family Portrait Photography – 50 Photo Tips

Family Portrait Photography

Family portrait photography is a huge responsibility for any shooter and may lead to several stressful conditions. If you know some secrets, any family photoshoot will become funny and easy because family portraits convey sincere emotions. Follow these 50 family photos tips to take photos successfully anytime.

50 Family Portrait Photography Tips

You need to know several important aspects as the right light, frame composition, posing, etc. so that any portrait looks professional. Let’s analyze all nuances in detail.

1. Place People Closer to Each Other

family portrait photography

This is a family and you need to show that the members are related, so try to locate them as close to each other as possible. But they shouldn't stand against each other's shoulders. First, try to locate them at a slight angle so that the shoulders overlap each other. If there are elderly people, then it is better to ask them to sit on the chair during the family photo session.

2. Tell Them How to Pose

family portrait photos

Always try to describe a family member how to pose as precisely as possible. This will help avoid misunderstandings and bad family portrait photos. Use your body to show how to stand and where to be. It’s important not just say "to the right" / "to the left", but refer to objects around: "turn to the tree", "look at the sea", etc.

3. Avoid Several Lines of People

family photo shoot tips

It’s perfect if you can place everyone into one focal plane. But if you need to make two rows, I advise you to remind people, who are behind, that it is necessary not to be separated from the front ones. Otherwise, it will be difficult to focus on everyone.

4. Compose a Frame Correctly

photography family photos

When working with large families, try to put people together in such a way that they form groups. Tall and young people are in the background, the elderly – in the center, children – in front. Remember, the highest people should be on the edges of photos as if closing the whole group composition.

  • Use Free Family Posing App on Android or IOS to help with family photography poses.

5. Focus on All Faces

family portrait photography tips

In case there are 2 rows of people, you should focus on the person standing in the front and center. In the photo below, the photographer focused exactly on the bridesmaid in front, and the bride in the second row is also completely in focus.

6. Use Surroundings

family photo shoot tips

Beside posing, the location plays a key role in taking fantastic outdoor family portraits. For example, you are at the seaside and tell the models to stand far from the camera. You need to make sure nobody will get wet feet or face the obstacle.

7. Shoot at the Kids’ Level

outdoor family portraits

If the family has little kids, then you’d better shoot at the level of their eyes. This will allow taking more attractive shots and making an accent on small models. In case the frame doesn’t look very successfully at this level, then ask parents to raise children to take amazing family portrait photos.

8. Choose Plain Outfits

family portrait tips

It is better if all models are dressed in a similar style or color spectrum. They can also bring some interesting accessories and objects reflecting common or personal hobbies.

9. Choose the Best Time of the Day

family photography tips

If you are going to realize family portrait ideas outside, then the evening will be a perfect time. An hour and a half before the sunset, (Golden and Blue hour) you will be able to take impressive shots with soft light. By the way, there is special Golden Hour App for Android and IOS to determine an ideal time. If you have no opportunity to shoot in the evening, then do not leave a family in direct sunlight, but locate models in the shade of trees or large buildings.

10. Avoid Dull Weather

how to take family portraits outdoors

When it’s dull outdoors, the light is not so even and sharp as at the sunny day. It is quite soft, but there is a big problem with the details. Mind that without additional lighting you may get dark areas under the eyes. In order not to be mistaken with the weather, use a special Weather App for Android and iOS while preparing for your family photo session.

11. Use a Tripod When You Can

family portrait tips

You will be able to work with models and don’t worry about losing a general view. Besides, the tripod will not allow a camera shake to blur the frame.

12. Use a Remote Release

A remote release is necessary to decrease a camera shake. Thus, while you are taking a series of shots, you will maintain a constant angle. Your hands will remain free so that you can direct the participants of the photoshoot and move the props.

13. No Matter What Camera You Use

SLR or mirrorless camera is up to you to decide. When choosing equipment, I advise you to consider the possibility of changing lenses, high-resolution matrix and moderate speed. These parameters are necessary because you will need to shoot children, take dynamic pictures with all family members, as well as work in different locations.

14. Buy a Suitable Lens

I recommend purchasing a full-frame lens. It will be a perfect choice for family portraits photographs taken inside and outside. Personally, I use two standard 50mm or 85mm lenses.

15. Use Burst Shooting

how to take family portraits

Here is another small trick for family photography. It’s better to take any group portrait using a burst shooting mode. Take several pictures at once, so it will be easier to choose a photo where no one blinks. The larger the group of people, the higher the chance that someone will close eyes at the wrong moment.

16. Choose Aperture

family portrait tips aperture

Most family portrait photography tips recommend shooting with a closed aperture. That is, its value should be more than f/4. When shooting with an open aperture (f/1.4-2.8), often someone misses the zone of sharpness. This can spoil not only the photo but also the mood of the "blurred" person. But at the same time, I advise you not to use a value more than f/11.

17. Make Sure You Set Correct ISO Settings Outdoors

family portrait tips iso

Do you know that a higher ISO is more light-sensitive while a lower ISO is less so? Note that a high ISO value increases the appearance of the grain. It’s better to use as low ISO as possible to avoid grain, otherwise, you'll have to devote lots of time to family photo editing.. As for me, I like ISO 100 or 200. Of course, you can raise the value in poor lighting conditions.

18. Shutter Speed Is Important

outdoor family portraits

For shooting indoor and outdoor family portraits, it is important to have almost no blur, especially if you have small children in the frame. Michael Kormos Photography studio considers it ideal for shooting to set shutter speed within 1/125 sec.

19. Select Aperture and ISO for Indoor Shooting without a Flash

camera settings for family portraits

Use f/1.4 - f/2.8 aperture for a blurred background. If you want the background to be more in focus, and you need the portrait itself to be sharper, use an aperture which is 2–3 steps relative to its maximum opening (lens speed). But I advise you to set the ISO value in AUTO-ISO mode: 1600. This means that the camera itself will set the ISO value (light sensitivity) in the range from 100 to 1600. These are the best camera settings for indoor portraits.

20. Settings for Shooting with a Flash

As for shooting mode, I advise you to set the aperture priority. It will allow you to adjust only this parameter, and the camera will set the shutter speed itself. ISO settings should be set to AUTO-ISO mode: 800 or even less because when shooting with flash, you do not need large ISO values.

21. Use Reflectors

taking family photos

You will need this tool for shooting, both in open areas and indoors. Reflectors are good at eliminating too harsh shadows and help receive an evener skin tone.

22. Use Artificial Light

family photography tips

Add some artificial lighting if there is not enough natural light. But I do not recommend using a built-in flash each time, because in this case, your objects may simply be flat. An external flash is ideal for receiving additional lighting. Install it 35-40 degrees away from the camera to implement desired family photography ideas.

23. Lighting for Shooting Up to 5 People

family portrait photography tips Taken By Nikon D600 + Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

As a rule, I use a softbox during such shootings. I place it above the heads of my models. Additionally, I set a flash in front of them at an angle of 45 degrees, and a reflector from the opposite side, which softens hard shadows. Also, I illuminate the background itself with another source while taking family photos.

24. Lighting for Shooting 5 or More

family photography tips lighting Taken by Canon EOS 5D Mark II + Canon 35mm f/1.4L

In this situation, I often install two large softboxes on the edges in front of the models to achieve uniform illumination of the face. Additionally, you can use reflectors in the case of harsh shadows, as well as another source of light to illuminate the background or create a backlight for family portraits photographs.

25. Lighting for Large Groups

how to take family photos at home Taken by Nikon D610 + Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF Zoom Lens

You should use a little trick from Annie Leibovitz to shoot a lot of people in the studio and get high-quality illumination of each family member. She creates her photographs by shooting people in small groups using flash lighting and an umbrella located above the models. Then she merges all the participants in Photoshop. If you have an interesting background and do not want to lose it, then I advise you to take a few shots of it, illuminating only the background.

26. Use a Classical V-Up Pose

family portrait photography family portrait photography
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The essence of this pose is to place all family members in the frame creating the same visual weight and building something similar to the letter V. A shooter should show the connection of family members with touch points. Create more of such points to make the family portrait poses more intimate.

27. Small Kids in The Middle

family portrait ideas

This pose is suitable for family portrait ideas with baby. Place the baby in the center of the shot and other relatives around the edges, while sticking to one line of the frame composition. In this case, the finished picture will be natural and there will not be too much empty space between people.

  • View more family portrait poses.

28. Use Actions

how to take family portraits outdoors

If you want to know how to take family portraits which will attract the viewer's attention, then mind this tip. Guide models on posing. Choose classical poses along with extraordinary ones. Ask people to run, jump or wave hands. Capture all possible emotions before they are tired.

29. Use Images of Superheroes

tips for family portraits clothing

Take a creative shot by asking models to dress as superheroes. It is not necessary to buy a whole suit. You can use T-shirts with prints and special superhero accessories of superheroes.

30. Involve Pets

family photography ideas

Pets are practically members of the family and therefore it is necessary to put them in a frame. Besides, their presence will help all participants of the photoshoot to relax.

31. Emphasize the Love Between Parents

family portrait photos

I don’t mean parents should kiss. They can just hug for family portrait photography and the children will be nearby.

32. Ask Them to Do the Same Actions

family portrait poses

If the family, which you photograph, has children, you can ask the rest of the family members to repeat the most frequent action of the baby. If all of them are adults, they can come up with their own moves and implement fun family photo ideas.

33. Shoot a Common Process

family portrait ideas outside

It may be leaving for a walk, cooking together or decorating a Christmas tree. The main thing is that all participants take an active part in the process.

34. Don’t Forget to Shoot Games

indoor family portrait ideas

This may be games with favorite toys or playing a console all together. Just try to capture the fun and dynamic movements.

35. Take Pictures of Common Hobbies

fun family photo ideas

If family members have common hobbies, you can use them for family portrait photography. Sports hobbies, drawing or handicrafts will be a fantastic option for taking impressive pictures.

36. Shoot the Family at the Sunset

family photography ideas

I think this is the best moment for realizing family portrait ideas outside. At the same time, all family members can either pose for the camera, or walk towards the sunset leaving their mysterious shadows in the photographs.

37. Focus Attention on the Parents’ Work

family portrait ideas with baby

The profession can also be included in family portrait photography. Especially if one of the parents has a specific job, for example, a fireman or a police officer. In this case, you will have many different accessories to emphasize it and take a unique shot.

38. Let the Kids Be Kids

unique family photo ideas

Ask the family to bring the favorite toys of the kids. Don’t forbid small model to have fun with them. Your main task is to take dynamic frames and capture interesting moments with babies.

39. Stick to the Overall Style

family portrait clothing ideas

Consider photoshoot clothing ideas. These can be identical shirts or dresses, as well as similar accessories that will make a family photo even more unique, and the outfits will be very interesting.

40. Shoot from Unusual Angles

outdoor family photography

Take a picture of people from a very high point, or vice versa, go down by locating all family members above the lens. A different shooting angle will make even the most ordinary photo original.

41. Don’t Forget to Shoot All Generations

taking family photos

The more people of different ages take part in the photoshoot, the more interesting this frame will be. In this case, you can locate the family on the steps or the bench, as well as ask them to stand in front of a beautiful background for photography family photos.

42. Keep It Natural

family photo session

Do you want to know how to take family photos which will stand out of the crowd? It is not always necessary to select hundreds of different images and stock up with a large number of costumes. If you have the opportunity to present family members with a maximum frankness well, then use it.

43. Replace Faces to Get Unique Shots

fun family photo ideas

For implementing this idea, you can use photos of relatives or any other interesting portraits of people you can find.

44. Shoot a Secret

family photography poses

This can be only children or adults, and you can combine all models in one frame and ask them to tell each other an interesting story from their lives or even a secret.

45. Make an Accent on the Baby

family portrait ideas with baby

To realize this idea, I usually place only the baby fully into the frame. His parents and close relatives are only partially in the photo. This creates a very interesting picture.

46. Go to a Picnic Together

outdoor family photography

Shooting in nature makes it possible to get not only natural lighting but also frames on the background of a beautiful view. At the same time, you can capture the family having fun, tasting the food that you brought with you or just laying under the sun.

47. Locate Someone Upside Down

photography family photos

If the children are still small enough and can take such a pose without problems for the parents, then use this moment for family portrait photography. The picture will be quite dynamic and with the most vivid emotions.

48. Ask to Toss up a Baby

family portrait photos

If parents like playing such a game with children, then it will be an excellent idea for a unique photo. However, it's better to do this in case the parents feel confident about such a frame. It is the most important rule of all family photo shoot tips.

49. Shoot an Evening Fairy-Tale

family portrait photography

You can implement this idea at any time of the day and ask parents to choose the most favorite book for reading.

50. Ask to Kiss Mom

indoor family portrait ideas

The age of children doesn’t matter. They may be even adults. The idea suits both family photography studio and outdoors.

Freebies for Editing Family Portrait Photography

I recommend using these free tools for indoor and outdoor family portraits editing to make photos brighter and deeper.

Free Ps Action “Color Tone”

free photoshop action color tone for family portrait photography free photoshop action color tone for family portrait photography

This free action will allow you to improve the color saturation of portrait photos and achieve a soft, natural look of each person.

Free Ps Action “Whitening Teeth”

free photoshop action whitening teeth for family portrait photography free photoshop action whitening teeth for family portrait photography

Sometimes a good shot can be ruined by a not very white smile. This problem can be solved quite easily using this free tool.

Free Lr Preset “Matte”

free lightroom preset matte for family portrait photography free lightroom preset matte for family portrait photography

With the help of this preset, you can add a slight matte effect to your ready-made shots and achieve greater originality. I suggest using a preset for outside photographs.

Free Lr Preset “Contrast”

free lightroom preset contrast for family portrait photography free lightroom preset contrast for family portrait photography

This preset can significantly improve the white balance and contrast in the finished photos to emphasize the color palette and the main objects in the frame.

Free Lr Preset “Nature”

free lightroom preset nature for family portrait photography free lightroom preset nature for family portrait photography

You need this preset in case you want to smooth skin a little bit, remove harsh shadows and increase the natural saturation of the color palette.

Tata Rossi

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