How To Take Successful Family Portraits

When you’re taking family portraits, you have to STOP thinking so much about the photography and start thinking about smart posing and interacting with the kids.  Just make sure you get what the MOM wants from the shoot, and allow your desire for technical photographic expertise to go on the back burner.

1. Shoot in continuous high and shoot a burst of four or five shots for each pose. This will be a life saver when you have to Photoshop eyes and faces from blinking dads and grumpy-faced toddlers.

2. Do not expect to get as many poses in as you would in a normal shoot. Just focus on getting 5 or 6 poses where you KNOW you nailed it.  Most clients with kids won’t be able to convince the kids to do too many poses, so keep the number low, but make sure you nail each one.

3. Place women with long hair on the downwind side of the family. The purpose is to keep her hair from blowing across the face of another family member.  It’s a simple thing, but Mom (the real client) will NOT like a picture where her hair is blowing over her face.

4. Find a staggered seating area. The toughest part of posing a small group is to find a way to make their head levels uneven but making them feel like a tight group.  If they are all lined up, the head levels can be distracting in a photo.  Finding a staircase where the family can sit, or boulders along the beach, or a small hill can be a perfect setting for a small group photo because the people can be staggered in height to create interest in the pose.

5. Give the kids breaks for candids. When you can see that the kids are starting to wear out after a few poses, ask the parents to let the kids run free in the park or on the beach.  This is usually a relief for the parents so they don’t have to wrangle their kids for a minute, and it gives you the opportunity to shoot candids of the kids for 10 or 15 minutes.  Once the kids have had a good break, you’ll have smiles for the next few poses.

6. Don’t make grumpy kids grumpier. The parents will most likely be more successful in talking with the kid.  The photographer’s job is to support the parents in making the session happy for the kids.

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