Family Portrait outdoors

Tips for taking Great Family Portraits

Family portraits are some of the most anticipated and dreaded photos of the year. As the years go on, however, family photos become priceless memories, each with a story of its own.

Like the time your dad pulled your brother’s ear across the grass to be in the perfect position. Or when the bird flew across the yard and unleashed on your heads. Or when your sister had a meltdown because she hadn’t finished her makeup.

These situations are normal, don’t worry;  it makes the photo memorable. Families aren’t perfect, and while there’s no such thing as the perfect photo, there are lots of things you can do to make the picture look nice.




Introduction – Family Portraits with Michele Celentano (FREE video)

Here are a few things to make the picture taking go a little smoother:

Pick Locations in Advance

The quicker pictures can be taken, the better, because the longer you wander looking for a spot, the more anxious people get to leave. Don’t be afraid to change up the locations. It is convenient to take pictures in the same spot every year, especially with younger children, however, a different landscape can greatly enhance your picture. Be aware of backgrounds that could obstruct the picture, such as trees or branches that look as if they are coming out of your child’s head.

Coordinate Clothing with Family Members

When you have family clothing coordinated, the picture looks tens times better. It helps when the family chooses one or two of the same colors to wear, with consistent pants or shorts, or whatever you choose. Some families prefer the casual look, others the semi-casual, or formal. Avoid shirts that have logos or designs. Add accents to the photo with different colored scarves, headbands, shoes, etc. Don’t be afraid of color contrast in a photo, as it can add depth to a picture and help its overall composition.



Communicate Clearly with Subjects

Photographers, in order to move quickly, need to communicate clearly with subjects. Be specific who you are talking to, where you need them to be in comparison to others, and use good descriptive words.

Strategically Place Subject Hands

What is the first thing you notice in a picture? Are hands a distraction in the picture? Hands can be placed behind the back, in pockets, around family members, etc., but if they are placed in front, make sure to get a different angle other than front on.

Family Portraits

Choose Flattering Poses

Be aware of angles and poses that do not compliment those in the portrait. Be sensitive to height and weight differences, to not overemphasize either of these personal differences. If there are significant height differences in the family, maybe sitting would be more preferred than a standing pose. Maybe a close up picture shot might be the most flattering for your family, than the more posed and arranged pictures.

A Complete Guide to Posing with Julia Kelleher (FREE video)

Have Fun and be Real

Pictures that turn out the best are those where the family is having a good time, laughing, and acting themselves. Although family pictures can be stressful at times, and it’s difficult to have everyone’s cooperation, enjoy the moment. It will make the picture look better. Smile your natural smile, and allow yourself to feel good and it will show through in the photographs.  

Be Aware of Shadows

Finding the right lighting in a photo can be tricky. In attempts to find shade in bright settings, be aware of overhead shadows. Sometime dark shadows can be cast underneath the eyes, or other parts of the picture.



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