How To Capture Family Photos the Easy Way

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Hello photographers!  Today let’s talk about some of the skills you need when taking family photos.  There is an easy way to create amazing photos that your clients will love!

The Most Important Skill is to HAVE FUN!

This is really so simple!  Make sure the family you’re shooting is having a great time.  Many parents are feeling pretty stressed by the time they have gotten everyone all spiffed up for their photo session.  I like to tell my clients in advance that once they arrive at the shoot, their work is done and the rest is up to me.  At this point, their job is to simply relax and follow a few basic instructions.

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What you really want to show in their photos is a happy family.  The best way to show that is to have them actually feel happy in the photos.  It’s not brain surgery…  It’s much simpler and thank goodness for that!  Unfortunately, we sometimes get so caught up in posing everyone perfectly that we forget to just capture the moments of them in their natural interactions.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s okay to put them in a posed position, but let them have fun while getting situated, and capture the fun!  You might be surprised to find that a shot like this one is a favorite over the perfectly posed shot.

Photo by pixelheadphoto from Getty Images Pro

Let’s talk about some great ways to get that family having a hoot of a time!

Let the Kids Direct

A great way to ensure the kids are having fun is let let them feel involved in the decisions at family photo sessions.  I tell them to think about what kind of pose they’d like and then let them run with it.  If they are having a tough time coming up with something, then feel free to throw out a few fun suggestions.  I call this shot the “family pile” and preteens love it!  The bottom line is this:  When the kids are involved in the decisions of how they want to be photographed, they tend to enjoy the experience much more and wear more natural smiles.

Embrace Action Shots!

Be sure and build in plenty of opportunity for action shots while you’re having fun at your session.  Little people seldom like to be corralled for too long, so take advantage of that energy and let them run!  This kind of image is a great snapshot in time showing how active the kids were at this age.

Action Photo for Family Photos the Easy Way
Photo by badski007

Everyone loves a great leaf pile shot.  Even dads get into the fun of throwing leaves.  Be ready with a fast shutter speed and put your camera on burst mode for this one.  Leaf-throwing is one kind of action that’s guaranteed to give your subjects natural smiles!

Family playing in the leaves
Photo by Veronicajune Photography

Here’s a great place to start in advising your clients What to Wear for Family Portraits

Capture Details!

Some of my clients favorite photos are the ones they don’t expect.  Make a point to capture some tiny details when you’re photographing the family.  Little fingers grabbing mom’s hand, tiny feet compared to big feet, long lashes on that sweet little one.  Parents love these shots and they are an added bonus when you deliver the final photos.

Family Feet image
Photo by Koca777 from Getty Images Pro
Detail Photo for Photos the Easy Way
Photo by Pixabay

Highlight Interactions

Be sure and keep an eye out for natural interactions.  Genuine moments between family members are the best!  If your client is feeling a little stiff, you can set them up like I did in the photo below.  Have mom and dad share a little kiss and let the kids be completely grossed out.  This is one of my all-time favorite family photos.  These boys were happily horrified that mom and dad were sneaking a smooch behind their backs, and it shows how much fun this family had.

Parents kissing with kids making ew faces
Photo by Veronicajune Photography

Don’t be afraid to let your subjects have a moment of quiet.  Some folks are wired for a more subtle kind of fun, especially if their kiddos are still little.  One of my favorite shots is one that shows a genuine moment of connection between mama and baby.

Side Photo for Photos the Easy Way
Photo by Daria Shevtsova

Bringing it All Together

I have found that most families want to see natural smiles on their kids’ faces and the best was to do that is to really let the family play and have a good time for their session.  Whether they play quietly or boisterously, when a family is having a great time, they will make great memories.  If you capture them in action, interacting, and having genuine fun, then each time they look at their photos of the day, they will remember what a great day it was.

As a pro, it’s your job to deliver great photos.  Great photos are a result of knowing how to use your equipment and then making people feel comfortable and relaxed in the moment.  With these tips and techniques, you’re off to a great start!  Now get out there and have some fun!

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