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And, it’s no surprise that one of my favorite photography sites, i heart faces, has a bunch of great posts on the subject as well! Getting the best family portrait photography results are the surest way to make great moments memorable. A photo session can turn chaotic if you find your destination is booked and have to wait for hours. When you get out for family photos, it is advisable to take several for comparison and diversity. If you are travelling for some distance to take the photos, grooming items will be helpful to reset your hair and appear perfect. The area you select to take the photos should be lovely for all the family members; dinner at a major restaurant, holiday at a favorite destination or even at your new house. To get the best family portrait photography results, you need to be as relaxed as possible. Getting great results from your photography will make your family stronger and remind you of the great moments you have had in the past.
You must have your Twitter user name entered in the "General Settings" tab of your themes options for this to function properly. I also have a large black faux-satin sheet and some interesting fabrics which I can drape over the white or black if I want a different effect.
Now obviously I took these photos at night with no other lighting on just the worklights from behind.
If I’ve missed anything or you have questions or comments please leave a comment below. With a little planning, doing a family portrait should be fun for both you, and the family you’re photographing. Assuming that you are setting something up, choosing the time of day and the location carefully, you have control of all the elements.
Inconsistent exposures create more work in post processing, as you have to even them all out. Just as you do not want the exposure to change from frame to frame, neither do you want the focus to be adjusted.
Set your camera up to do one of the following: use focus lock, back button focus, or use manual focus. Bonus tip: If your camera has video capabilities you have a neat way of doing manual focus. You may or may not have heard this one before, or perhaps you weren’t 100% what it meant.
If someone has a bigger bottom half, don’t pose them walking away from the camera using a wide angle lens.
When you have a couple that has a huge height difference get the man (usually the taller one) to stand with his feet further apart. For really heavy people (or those overly self-conscious of their weight) use the lying down in the grass pose and pile the kids on top. Avoid using an overcast day simply because the lighting is even and less harsh than bright sunlight. Just as important as getting some light in the eyes is having it come from a good direction. I volunteered my time at an event called Help Portrait last year that has photographers, make up artists and organizers giving their time to create portraits for people that otherwise couldn’t afford a professional one. In posing families, I ask them to touch each other’s shoulders, arms, waists, depending on the overall pose and composition.
My only other comment on the author’s examples, which are overall quite beautiful, is that to my taste she is a little to far away from her subjects.
Thanks also for the what to wear ideas – it’s amazing how much difference a quick word can make before the shoot to eliminate crazy pattern clashes and colour nightmares!
You need to give space around them and allow for some composition and negative space otherwise they’ll feel crowded. Right now, only one of my kids is old enough to actually look at the camera and smile on cue.
Whatever you mentioned regarding Lighting, Camera metering, taking lot of shoots and paying attention to details are really very good and most important as well.
I really like #6 – neutrals + simple background + good pose = perfect family portrait. Here are just some ideas to get the ball rolling after compiling the best information available on the net.
For example, mom may want to look slimmer, elder sister want to be further from camera and dad does not want his bald to appear obvious. You should therefore have children carry items such as toys and teddy bears to make them satisfied.
Changing clothes will help to give you important breaks and make the photos different even when taken on the same environment.

This helps to capture the moments in the best way possible without creating a sense of exaggeration. Our family room has lovely big windows which let in lots of natural light so I simply slide the lounge out of the way to expose a blank wall (besides the hanging art) which faces the window and I’m good to go. I have two painters extension poles (pics 1-4) which I have added a rubber stopper to the ceiling end (pic 5). The backdrop sheet is simply clamped to the poles with a couple of small clamps (pic 4) – too easy! The lights I use (pic 6) are simply $25 (Bunnings again) workman lights that pump out a massive 500w each. That’s really great to know that there are such people like you who do their job very well and with such enthusiasm. They are very real people and they feel even more uncomfortable staring straight into your lens than they do looking at you.
It also can cause a slight color shift, increase noise (if underexposed) and other undesirable things.
Try and position them so that no head is directly on top of, or beside (same level) another. People tend to stand stiff and rigid when you position them, so you need to get them to bend a few body parts to look more natural.
The best way to get someone to do any of this is to do it yourself and have them mirror you.
The girls did a much better job here than the guys but even the arms bent at the elbow helps.
Again this is a whole other class on lighting but learn to know when you need more light on their faces. It even helps to have an assistant, tell them to bring Grandma along or a friend to help out. Create a few really whacky shots at the end of the session (or even in the middle if the energy seems to be fading). They ended up sending most of the families to me, initially because I had the biggest area to do the group photo and later because the other photographers said I was the best with the kids. She is also an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles, online photography classes, and travel tours. While this may be her preference, and often for good reason, it really depends on your location’s light. This not only gives them something (natural) to do with their hands, but creates a warmer, more loving appearing group. These are family portraits, not landscapes, so ideally, the faces should be larger and more prominent.
Out of interest, were the locations fully public places or did you have control of passers by?
Getting your flash off camera will give you more directional light, from camera will flatten out your subjects.
The further away you get the harder it is to relate and even talk to them, you end up shouting at them or running back and forth a lot. There is a misconception that just diffusing your light with one of those plastic spheres will make it softer – not true. I can’t wait until they are both a little older and we can get some awesome family photographs. Now that my children are grown and gone those early family portraits are so much more precious.
We are having our family portaits made next month with not just my family of six but my two sisters’ families and our parents. I absolutely LOVE  the way the newborn features collage came out (the first picture in the post).
If you are having a night out or getting the photos indoors, the lighting could be limited and compromise the photos quality. If it is too coloured or have objects that distract the viewer, it becomes the centre of attention. Unfortunately it has a seam through the middle but I can usually cleverly hide this in this pic or clone it out with PS afterwards if necessary.
We got a good book on that matter from our local library and most books where not as influensive as your information. You can check your settings, review the composition, and exposure to make sure you’ve got everything right.
But if you put it in Aperture or Shutter priority, depending in the metering mode selected, the camera could choose a slightly different exposure for each frame. You do NOT want that!
Likely if you’ve posed your group in a relatively static position, they will not be moving. Diagonal lines are more dynamic and add interest to an image, so try to do that with the people in your grouping. Hides tummies, stretches out chins and makes the kids closer in size because it’s just faces.

The biggest thing you want to make sure you do for portraits is get light into your subjects’ eyes. Why because the sun is lower on the horizon and you don’t get the harsh overhead light you do at midday. Overcast days give you direct overhead lighting and dark eyes, especially anyone with deep eye sockets. If you cannot see a catchlight (the lightsource reflected in their eyes) then there isn’t enough light in their faces. I used a flash, bounced into an umbrella also to the left to add light to their faces, without it they’d be in shadow. But what always happens is you get the kids all looking and smiling, and what are the parents doing? Get her free ebook 10 Photography Challenges to help you take better pictures or save $50 OFF on her Photo tour to Nicaragua - by using the discount code: dps50nica and join her on an adventure of a lifetime! I have had some mixed experiences where subjects have felt a little self conscious with random people stopping to see whats going on, especially in cities.. When you block the overhead light it IS darker for sure but the direction of light changes to coming from the front instead of overhead, so you don’t get dark eyes. So you end up having to dodge on every single image and causing yourself a lot more work in post production. Most of my portraits are done late evening and there tend to be less passers-by at that time of day. If you are bouncing indoors off the ceiling or a wall then yes it will – but outdoors it will not make the light any softer. But, I’ve never done any newborn shots since having my dslr and I was SO excited to have the chance to take pictures for her! You can get even lighting by taking the photos during the day or provide adequate artificial lighting. The trick here is to have the subject stand away from the backdrop so that it is out of focus or over expose it so that it blows out … I do love high key photography. They come with halogen globes which give off a yellow light which works if you want a warmish feel otherwise you can get white light globes for them. I am very glad to see such information which I was searching for a long time.This made very glad! All to often it’s easy to get carried away once you put the camera up to your eye and forget to check something only to see later you had the wrong White Balance, or ISO was 6400, or you accidentally shot Small JPG. But you’ll get way better expressions by interacting with them than you will looking through the viewfinder. Just remember that each time you change the pose, location, etc, you need to check exposure again. The image on the screen will zoom in (your lens doesn’t) so you can see what is in focus which allows for much most precise manual focusing. There are many ways to do that and that’s a whole huge topic but there are a few things you can do to set yourself up to start off with good light. That’s why if my faces are dark I add a flash (bounced into an umbrella or bounced off a big reflector) off to one side to add light into their eyes. That all may be true and in some cases (like photographing kids running or doing more documentary style photography) it may be better to shoot hand held.
I just took another look and of all the images the only one that’s maybe a bit looser cropped is the family in black sitting on the rock (3 young kids). You see, we have SHORT toes, My Grandma, My Dad, Myself , my Son and BOTH Grandsons have the same pudgy feet with short toes. Use what is naturally in the environment to pose them, or if you have nothing available just arrange them so the heights are staggered. You want the light to come from the side more, 30-45 degrees from camera is a good starting point. The dad in the photo above by the brick wall pretty much has the same expression all the time. Once everything is all set up as Darlene says, just shoot as many shots as you can in a very short amount of time.
For me showing more of the scene that they chose around them it gives more of a sense of who they are as a family. To learn more about this read my article on the 6 Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know. A portrait for me isn’t about what they look like, it should give insight into their personality too.

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