© Gregory Daniel

10 Tips for Taking Great Family Photos

1. Plan ahead

Capturing family moments through professional photography is a cherished experience. Yet, what is intended as a delightful occasion can sometimes turn into a whirlwind of last-minute preparations. Some important things to consider in your preparation list are outfits, makeup, backdrops, and transportation to the venue where you will be taking pictures.

2. Decide on a great location

Selecting a great location is very important when preparing for family photos, as it often dictates the mood, lighting, and even the choice of outfits for the session. The great outdoors, with its abundance of natural light, arguably is one of the best backdrops to choose from. Not only does it provide photos with a more organic feel, but children thrivein this setting. Kids love running around and expressing themselves through their environment, which is easy to capture! Beyond the conventional beauty of natural settings, consider scouting for locations that bring a unique, creative edge to your family photos. Fun textures, like the chipped paint of an old barn or the charm of a brick building with ivy runners, add depth and character to your pictures. The possibilities are truly endless!

3. Choose your family’s outfits

Selecting the right outfits is essential for capturing the essence of your family in photographs. When considering clothing options, think about the tone and mood you want for the shoot. Dreaming of soft, elegant family portraits? Opt for neutral colors with gentle, flowing fabrics. Envision your family bathed in hues of creams, soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, grays, and soothing slate blues. On the other hand, if you're aiming to capture the lively and spirited dynamics of your family, consider coordinated—but not overly matched—colors, perhaps grays punctuated with bright accents like yellow or vivid red. Accessories like scarves, headbands, and hats can introduce a contemporary, playful touch to your photos.

A word to the wise: Encourage family members to stick to solid colors and always have a backup outfit on hand, especially when the photo session involves kids and babies. Remember, it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed and have everyone looking their best. It’s also a good idea to bring a second outfit or layers for everyone involved. This allows for quick changes in the case of unforeseen incidents like spills.

4. Keep it short

Sometimes, the most captivating family portraits are achieved in shorter sessions. Extended periods of posing can become tiresome and lead to a sense of inauthenticity. Remember, most family members aren't professional models, and the constant smiling and positioning can lead to frustration. It's crucial to work in breaks and avoid drawing out the process for too long, ensuring everyone remains comfortable and the smiles stay genuine.

5. Talk to your family beforehand

Kids are smart and they love feeling grown-up and informed. Get your children interested and involved by explaining the plans for the day. Show them the outfits you have picked out or let them be involved in the clothing selection process. Tell them a “professional photographer” is coming over and that’s it’s going to be a lot of fun. Convey positivity to minimize the stress of new people and new things that can overwhelm small children.

6. Decide on a reward

Sometimes a little bribery is necessary to make sure things go smoothly during your session. If you would like to try an extra incentive to keep your kids calm, pick a reward beforehand that you would be comfortable following through with after the session is over. If your kids like ice cream, for example, the photographer and adults can talk about using ice cream as a bargaining tool with the kids when they need to smile more, sit still, or pay attention.

7. Ensure everyone is well fed and rested

To achieve the best outcomes during the photo session, ensure all family members are well-rested and nourished. Adequate sleep is key, and don't overlook the importance of a hearty breakfast or lunch, based on the timing of your shoot. While some photographers might offer snacks, it's wise to bring along a few extra treats, especially for younger family members who might need an energy boost.

8. Consider taking photos during golden hour

Selecting the right time of day is also huge! Consider scheduling your family portraits during the first two hours of daylight or the last two, taking advantage of the flattering light during these times.

9. Don’t try too hard, have fun!

When it comes to family photos, sometimes the most cherished moments are the unscripted ones. While the allure of a picture-perfect shot is undeniable, there's a unique beauty in capturing your family just as they are. A stray hair or a moment where not everyone's gaze meets the camera conveys genuine interactions and tender connections. Instead of seeking perfection, embrace these fleeting moments where family members are genuinely engaged with one another.

10. Trust your photographer

Organizing a family portrait session might feel daunting, but it doesn't need to be. Professional photographers cherish those candid moments when children burst into laughter, flash wide smiles, or even flaunt some attitude—it's these unguarded moments that capture true personalities. So, trust in your photographer and listen to their guidance. If you're on the lookout for a professional headshot photographer, our "Photographer Finder" tool is just the resource you need. Each photographer listed is a proud member of PPA, dedicated to upholding the highest standard of professional photography. Dive into their portfolios, explore their craftsmanship, and conveniently access their contact information all in one place. Find your ideal photographer today!



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