Find the best Family Photography tips, ideas and poses here. From start to finish with how to find a photographer to what to wear for family photos!
Having the ability to stop time at a fraction of a second, to freeze those moments for my clients is something I love. I think we live in a society that is so focused on perfection, that it’s become far too easy to pick at every flaw we see in the mirror. In photography, I have the honor of showing my clients what I see, that those ‘imperfections’ aren’t worth another thought. That they are beyond beautiful in every way by the way they interact with each other.
After all, family is a verb…it’s something we do, how we love and who we are.
It’s the real and raw.
My job is to show them what I see.
I’m going to give you my best tips…that are tried and true for me in my experience with family photography.
How do you photograph family portraits?
1- What time of Day is Best for Pictures:
I do not enjoy shooting in harsh or midday light and I don’t recommend scheduling family portraits during this time either. I prefer the golden hour before sunset or (even better) overcast days. I find so much freedom in having nice, soft, even lighting that allows me more versatility.
Family Photography Ideas
2- Getting the Family Comfortable!
Dad (and/or teens) are usually less than excited to get dressed up and be in front of the camera. I’ve found that if I can get them to be comfortable with me in general, then they also feel more confident and relaxed about our session as a whole.
— I ask a lot questions, “What grade are you in? What kind of music do you like? Who’s your team (I’m a Patriots fan, so this helps hahaha. No one likes the Patriots in my area)”
–I like to show the family the back of the camera as we go, so they can see exactly what we’re doing as we’re doing it. I explain, “Now these aren’t edited, of course. But take a look at what we just caught!!” It’s fun for them to see what we’re doing from my view and really does relax them along the way.
— When a member isn’t having a good time (little ones, for example), I give them a ‘break’ and move forward with other shots. When the little ones are feeling a little more relaxed, I bring them back in and try to make them laugh. The littles like to see their photos too! This is one way to get good shots, let them see how big their smiles are. Encourage them, “You’re doing such a good job!! Look right here in my lens, do you see the fairy?! No? Look again…. BIG SMILE. Did you see her wings??”
Prompts for big smiles!
If you haven’t played with these, you need to. These are encouraging phrases that help catch candid moments and real reactions for family photography.
- Look at each other and just start fake laughing
- Lean in like you’re going to kiss her, but don’t
These are so fun and get the best natural reactions.
Family Photography Poses
Always keep in mind what it feels like to.. meet a stranger and pose in front of the camera. Having experience with getting your pictures taken will help you relate to your client. Remember what it felt like to have an angry child or a tired one? It’s hard to be on the other end of the lens, trying to smile, trying to be yourself, trying not to be awkward etc.
Crack jokes. Let them see that you are confident and more importantly, be sure to get to know them. Your clients are more than one snap shot that’s tack sharp. They are beautiful, especially when they smile!
I think we can all agree “What do I do with my hands?” is a tough one. Having your clients connect with each other is key to bringing out the emotion and connection with one another.
- Side hugs
- Hand on brother’s shoulder or upper arm
- Mom needs to touch Dad
- Have a single subject – play with their hair
- Give them a prop to hold
- Lean heads into each other
Use those hands!! But watch for tension, things like making a fist or tight grips, out of nervousness, will throw your image off.
The guys tend to like to face you straight, shoulders square, arms tighter against their sides to maximize their upper body.
Whereas for ladies, they tend to prefer a softer pose where weight is all on one foot (giving a lighter, fun feel to the image), turned to the side slightly with arms held just a little away from their bodies.
Basically, no one wants an image that portrays a line up, use those hands, pop those feet, lean in to each other. I tell my clients, “Closer together. Closer. Like uncomfortably close!”
Before I end each session, I ask if there is anything we may have missed or anything else we can add. My clients have offered me the best posing ideas in the past. Their posing suggestions can create images that are amazing & a priceless addition to their gallery.
Shoot from different angles- not just the front. Pull your subjects away from the background. Move to the side when shooting a teen or mom/dad at the family session. Use a step stool and shoot from higher angles or get lower and shoot up. Back up and close that aperture down to include the background, zoom in to just catch the family with a creamy bokeh.
Ask for help. There are a million groups on Facebook full of people who are so happy to share their knowledge with you. If you know someone who shoots and admire their work, ask them to mentor you. Soak up as much as you can. One of the best things about photography, is that you will never know everything there is to know about it. It’s always learning and practicing. Keep going!!
What to Wear For Family Photos
With the different seasons through the year this can bring different color palettes that look good in pictures! Choosing what to wear for family photos can be a task and here are a few tips!
Fall/Winter – I love to suggest dark colors like maroon, blacks, navy blues for contrast that don’t take away from the scenery but make the focal point (people) pop more.
Spring/Summer – Softer colors photograph well. Stay away from green or yellows that would clash with the background. What to wear for spring pictures can look totally different than outfits for fall pictures! Choose wisely!!
Patterns and Coordinating Outfits: I think its good to have multiple people steer clear of patterns (plaids and stripes) but having one member wear one is a perfect starting point for the color palette. Consider a child wearing a navy button down but mom would wear a yellow top with a navy scarf to tie it together.
If you are looking specifically for a photoshoot dress – I’ve collected a ton of my favorites that photograph well for not only family photos, but could be used for maternity photos or couples/engagement pictures.
Maybe you are looking for a Family Photographer...here are a few suggestions to help you find the perfect fit for your family.
4- Find a Photographer:
Mom is usually the planner of all things when it comes to family portraits. She carefully coordinates outfits, and dates with everyone’s schedule in the family. It’s always important to remember how much work your clients put into scheduling and paying for family portraits. It’s hard work wrangling the family to do a session…so lets give Mama some credit.
Before you contact photographers I suggest finding at least two to three dates that work well with your family for your pictures. This helps in the process of finding the right photographer for you.
How do you Find a photographer near you? Start with a Facebook search or google search…I know that seems basic but it’s a great place to start so you can see what their family portraits look like…if you like what you see then that’s a great start! Next you need to reach out and contact the photographer near you, ask for their information for family portraits, their availability and prices.
Speaking of prices…the next big questions I get asked is: How much does it cost to get family pictures? This will be relative to where you live, what the family photographer has to offer in their packages and their experience and clientele. Set your budget and go from there – you can always budge on your budget or know what is expected for your area once you reach out to photographers near you.
The Best Camera Equipment for Family Photos
There are always great tips on what photography equipment is needed for family photography. A basic camera lens and camera body will get you onto a great start! You don’t have to fill up your bag with equipment to capture beautiful family photos. As the Expert Photography gives a guide on family photography they mention the right photo equipment – might be a good jump start to learning more.
Preparing for a Family Photoshoot
There are several ways you can prepare for a family photoshoot whether you are the family being photographed or maybe you are the photographer helping a family prepare.
- Have an idea of what kind of photoshoot you are wanting.
- Work together to pick a location that fits the type of photoshoot you want.
- Choosing a date that works well for your entire family as well as coordinating with a photographer.
- Are you using props in your photoshoot? Prepare those and gather them in advance.
- This may seem silly – but have everyone fed and bellies full! We all feel better and have more energy with full tummies!
- Coordinate your outfits and figure out what to wear!
- Have fun and make memories together!
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Hi, my name is Audrey Jorgensen. I live in Eastern Idaho and photography is my absolute passion. I shoot Nikon and have been for almost 5 years. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a husband who encourages my craft, and has pushed me to go as far as I can with it. We have three children who are real troopers in letting me drag them out for shoots. A few years ago, I took the plunge and asked a very well known and respected photographer to mentor me. Best thing ever. My friend, RaDawn, was so patient in teaching me, encouraging me & showing me how to have fun with photography.
ALICIA HUTCHINS says