How to capture the best family photo Dos and don’ts of family portrait photography


Family portrait photography can be loads of fun but poses quite a challenge at the same time. How do you get an entire family to pose for a photograph instead of running amok? A seasoned portrait photographer knows how to manage the family dynamics long enough to get the perfect snap.

Family portraits are pretty popular – indeed, right up there with wedding photography. Families realize their moments together are fleeting and try their best to capture their special time together. 

Family photography can bring in a lot of business and can be highly rewarding but still makes some photographers quiver in their boots. But with our helpful tips, it can be a fun and enjoyable job.  


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Do make it a fun experience

As a photographer, you may have dealt with shy subjects in the past. So imagine having a family of them sitting awkwardly in front of the camera. It’s your job to bring a fun element to the shoot to break the tension and lighten up the mood. 

Don’t make the shoot too serious – ask the family to make goofy faces or crack them up with jokes. This puts them in a more comfortable position and they’ll feel less reserved going forward in the shoot. 


Do not pick a random location

Scout for an interesting or meaningful location for the family portrait. The setting should match the family. Are they beach people or city folks? Are they indoor or outdoor people? Families are more comfortable in settings that match their demeanour. 


Do offer wardrobe advice

Most family portraits are taken in matching clothes. Is it necessary? Not really but you can always advise your clients to try it. Encourage weather appropriate clothing – the last thing you want is blue lips and chattering teeth while everything else looks glamorous. 

Ask your clients to dress in clothes that they feel comfortable in. You don’t want them feeling self-conscious and looking preoccupied with their outfit. 


Family portrait


Do not restrict kids

Parents often try to control their kids during family portraits which put a lot of pressure on the kids. As a photographer, make sure you can put children at ease and let them be themselves. 

Make funny noises, use props or let the kids run around and play before the shoot. Let the kids have fun and be prepared to capture this family fun on camera. 


Do plan ahead

Family portrait shoots can be unpredictable so as a photographer, you’ve got to do everything in your power to make sure it goes on smoothly. This means planning ahead. If you’re shooting outdoors make sure the weather won’t pose a problem. 

Shoots with children can go south pretty quick, so you need to take necessary precautions. Make sure the parents bring along an extra pair of clothes in case the kids stain or dirty their clothes while playing. 


Do not enforce poses

Poses have to match the mood and setting. While you can recommend poses to the family, don’t force them to follow – especially the younger members. If you don’t want to direct them to pose, ask the family to engage in fun activities and capture candid photos of them. 


Family portrait photography doesn’t just require being handy with a camera. Your social skills will play a vital role in getting families to be comfortable. You have to be good at working with children or the elderly. Family portrait photography can be challenging but being a part of this special moment can be a privilege.

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