I LOVE photographing families. Family portraits are some of the absolute cutest! There’s just something special about capturing the love families have for each other… and the fun they have! It reminds me of the feelings I have for my family.
So, I put together this guide! I wanted to gather as much advice from experienced professionals as I could! I went and contacted some of the best family photographers from different states across the U.S. to get their take on family photography. Included in this article are tips for photographers and even some tips for families. So whether you fit into one category or the other, this was written for you!
A few months ago I also wrote about collaborating with other photographers and why it's important. If you haven't read that article read it here!
Family Photography Infographic
As I reached out I noticed a few trends. I’ve put them together into a fun little infographic here:
How Top Family Photographers Capture Great Family Photos: 25% mentioned tickles, 38% mentioned laughing, 25% talked about getting candid photos, 32% mentioned walking as a prompt, 56% said to get families close to each other, and 32% suggested families need to be playful with each other.
How to Pose Families
“Posing” is out and “prompts” are in. Candids and natural photos are popular. The trick to taking these types of photos is knowing ways to make mom, dad, and kids comfortable. Lots of the photographers I contacted like to get families interacting with each other. Good ways to do this include telling jokes, having family members look at “the funniest person, the person with the messiest room, the stinkiest, etc.” These types of prompts usually get some great reactions from kids and adults alike. While the “Grandma’s fridge” pictures are classic and, I believe, necessary for a photoshoot, candids are what many clients like to post on social media and hang on the living room wall.
It can certainly be difficult as a new photographer to use the prompt method instead of traditional poses. My advice is just to practice. Watch other photographers and learn from them as well. Reach out to photographers you look up to and see if they’re interested in having you second shoot at photoshoots they have scheduled. Learn what you can and keep practicing!
How the Pro's Pose & Prompt
The first question I asked each of these stellar photographers was about their favorite way to pose. Here’s what they had to say:
“My favorite family pose is the candid welcoming of a newborn to the crew. The shutter will flap away as smiles, tickles, kisses, and embracing love transpires. If I'm shooting families with older kids, I prefer a blanket down in a scenic setting and getting them in close together, and it usually starts with seeing how flexible dad is.” -Nathan Cornetet | Fusion Photography
“Start wide!! This will get you those awesome wide shots we all love, then move in closer and get detailed, crop shots.” -Alicia Padilla | Alicia & Co
“I prefer more candid shots as opposed to "posed" shots. Walking, tickles, and laughing are all good ways to get some great candid photos. “ -Lauren | Lauren Cherie Photography
“One of my favorite poses is a walking pose. I line them up from Oldest to youngest and have the leader of the family lead them through while holding hands. While they are walking, I have mom and dad look at their "favorite person". Most times this generates quite the response and laughter, making for the perfect lifestyle image.” -Lavel Nordin | Lavel Marie Photography
“I love candid!! Getting families super close and having them laugh together is always a big winner!” -Kate Buckles | Kate Buckles Photography
“My favorite way to pose families is to get everyone snuggled up together and looking at their favorite person smiling up or down at them. Then move on to tickles and you will get some fantastic smiles!” -Ute | Ute Christin Photography
“I usually like to break the ice with something easy to start with. I just have them stand close together without too much posing. I take a few shots and then move to another spot and keep adding to the posing from before by making sure they're standing at the right angles etc. I'll also throw in having them looking at each other from time to time or tickling the kids. By the end, it's become easy for everyone and they're much more comfortable. When little ones are involved, I love to capture a lot of playing and candid shots of the family. I'll prompt them with games they can play or I'll have them walk together adding in variety such as swinging the child.” -Kacy Hughes | Kacy Hughes Photography
“To be perfectly honest, I don't pose families very often. Most of my family photography is more documentary, but there is one pose I like! It's very visually pleasing to try to form triangle shapes with your subjects. You can do this with three or more people. A simple example is having the parents seated and a small child standing up behind them and between their shoulders. The child can playfully wrap their arms around their parents' shoulders or simply place hands on shoulders. This works great if the child is under 4 feet tall (any taller and the distance between them is a little awkward).” -Jennifer Alsabrook-Turner | Bang Images
“I love to get families interacting with each other and laughing. With small kids, I love to get them in parents' arms or on shoulders. I love to have the kid(s) held between their parents, and then just have a cuddle. From here, I can have the parents snuggle in super close to their kids, kiss cheeks, try and make them laugh. It's always my favorite shot.” -Sarah Freije | Blueberry Hill Photography
“Dad sitting and mom with her back relaxing into him with the children sitting surrounding them. Everyone is so close, no spaces. I like to see the connections between them all. From there you can transition into many unposed captures.” -Melissa Hartigan | Melissa Hartigan Photography
“My favorite way to pose a family is the “walking pose”. This is where I ask the family to get in one line and walk towards me while they look at each other. I invite them to talk or make jokes. This is one of my favorite poses because at least one photo results in a natural looking photo. Many times, families laugh at each other as they walk, so that also makes for a great photo.” -Heidi Garcia | Heidi Garcia Photography
“Walking, holding hands, and swinging child. Always get's some cute natural laughs! “ -Amy Dunn | Amy P Photography
“I love having the family sit and snuggle together in a big bear hug.” -Jessica | Jessica Lee Photography
“I favor the "unposed method". I always start out my sessions by having them stand as close together as possible, the less space between them the better! I start with the basic shots of them looking at the camera and then we get silly. I have them all look at each other and smile, tell them to look at their favorite person or the smelliest family member... I never really go in with a game plan, because each family is different. I really try to read the vibe of the family instantly and play off of each person. With families you can usually get the best poses with them just cuddling in tight and connecting, I always tell them to connect with each other-grab a hand, snuggle in, hug! I can usually get what I need within the first 15 minutes and then I just capture what unfolds in front of me!” -Tasha Boin | Tasha Boin Photography
“Dad is always my anchor. I get mom and dad together, and then arrange the kiddos around them. I try to vary the height of the heads, so they're not all lined up.” -Kim Jaeckel | Kim Jaeckel Family Photography
Tips for Photographing Families
The second question I asked America’s best photographers was if they had any general tips for family photography. I got some more great responses. Here are a few highlights!
“I've found that the most successful sessions are when children are allowed to play with little interruption. Also, I encourage parents to keep a physical connection with at least one family member during the session and to play with their children as if I'm not even there. These things usually lead to really fun, natural interactions documented between family members.” -Jennifer Alsabrook-Turner | Bang Images
“Make sure you know everyone's name before the session and learn a thing or two about each kid to connect on their level.” Stevie Cruz | Stevie Cruz Photography
"'Does daddy wear a diaper?' Always gets laughs, even from the dad that is obviously not totally into the session already!" -Amy Dunn | Amy P Photography
There are so many great ways to photograph a family. If you’re a photographer, just know that there is no “right way” to pose or prompt your families. Work with them and get them comfortable. Develop your own style!
If you are someone who has been wanting to get photography for your family in Utah, feel free to reach out to me! Or, if you live outside of the state, check out one of the many talented photographers linked within this article. Know that your photographer has your best interest at heart. Don’t put off having photos taken! As Lauren from Lauren Cherie Photography puts it "Your family is growing very fast and right before your eyes. That's why I believe it's so important to capture these moments before they're gone. We can always come up with some excuse to wait. What should we wear? I don't look good in pictures. My husband hates having his picture taken. Will the kids behave? My best tip is to try not to stress too much. It will all be worth it in the end!"