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Family photography is one of the most rewarding genres. The photos that you take are without a doubt going to be in that family’s life forever. They will hang on the walls on their home, be posted to their Facebook pages, and be used for Christmas cards, as gifts, and imprinted on coffee mugs.

As cheesy as it sounds, family photographs are probably one of the most important shoots that you will go on because it will remain as an heirloom in the life of a family for generations. It can be a very rewarding project for a photographer as well, and can make a great addition to a lifestyle portfolio! The thing is, when you are working with people that are not professional models—you have some interesting challenges to keep in mind.

To make the shoot as smooth as possible read on for these do’s and don’ts before your next family photoshoot.

(1) DO: Consult with the Family Beforehand

It is always a good idea to speak with the family a in advance. Talking to them before the shoot will help to make sure that you avoid some of the pitfalls that happen when you actually arrive to photograph them, and will make sure they get the kind of portraits they want to get. Remind them that to get the best photos you are going to want them in a location (more on this in #4) and at a time that is going to make them feel the most comfortable. While it is really tempting to try to get photos that are unique as possible, it should be your priority to capture the moments with everyone in a positive mood! Make this your priority.

(2) DO: Request Certain Clothing

There is nothing worse than showing up to take family photos with everyone in different patterns, shirts with crazy writing, or just looking completely unready to be photographed. You want the photos to look cohesive and the best way to do this is to make sure everyone is wearing solid colors or matching in some way. You do want them to look put-together on some level—this doesn’t mean that everyone has to wear jeans and a red shirt, but it is a god idea to give the family some suggestions for how they can look cohesive in a group shot together.


If there is one piece of advice I could make known on this blog, it is a tip that comes directly from one of our photographers. When we were talking in the studio about this post, he explained to me that as a photographer, it is really important not to get stressed out on family shoots—kids are going to cry, throw-up, scream, etc, you just need to let it happen and remain calm. When you are calm as a photographer, and you are willing to go with the flow since nothing is going to be perfect, thing wind up going a lot more smoothly.

(4) DON’T: Put the Venue Above All Else

In many cases, having a creative venue can make or break photos. However, in family photos, you want to make sure the people you are shooting are familiar and as comfortable. Kids are especially important to consider in this. Children, especially young children, take a while to adjust to their new environment. Putting them in a random forrest or in an overwhelming park could take them longer to adjust and calm down than you actually have time to shoot.

When you consult with the family, talk about a venue that will give them the photos they want, but also somewhere their kids will feel the most comfortable.

The one thing you do not want to compromise on is lighting. Shooting early in the morning or at the “golden hour” of day will make your photos beautiful and give them an uplifting feel—which is really the goal of family photography.

(5) DO: Consider Children!

If this hasn’t been covered sufficiently in the other do’s and don’ts, here is a whole section on it! Always consider when you are working with kids and teens in family photography. Advise parents to make sure they are well-rested and fed before the shoot. Obviously, certain circumstances are unavoidable with children, but try to make sure that you have their parents position them to be in the best possible mood and be willing to cooperate ahead of time. If the kids are older, it is even reasonable to ask them where THEY would want to take the photos or what colors they think the family should wear. If they have some input, they are more likely to enjoy taking the photos. You might also want to consider having the parents bring an activity that they all like to do together. Getting photos of everyone dancing, or reading books, or playing with the family dog can make for really natural looking and fun photos.

The Takeaway

There are a lot of unique issues to consider when you are dealing with a family photoshoot. A lot of the considerations do revolve around children, and making sure that the family is actually geared-up and ready to go before you take their pictures. If you follow these do’s and don’ts you are very likely to have a successful shoot with an amazing photo outcome!

What do you think of these tips for family photography? Let us know by getting in touch with us here – we would love to hear from you!

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