10 Tips to Photograph Your Family


Whether they’re the ones you’ve chosen or the ones you were born with, those we’re lucky enough to call family are never too far from our side. They're with us in the mundane, in the messy, in the magical. In all the beauty that slowly adds up to a life. And because you spend so much time together, why not capture that time in a way that does justice to the story you share? We spoke with a few folks who know a little something about what it means to photograph a family — hear their tips below and put them to practice with yours this year.

Tip 01

Gather Around

Image by @billyjackbrawner3

When you have a handful of people that you're aiming to get in one frame, coordinating can be overwhelming. Phone a friend (i.e., your self timer) to do the hard work for you. Balance your phone on an object about ten feet away, and make sure that you're using the camera on the back of your phone (as opposed to the front) to take a higher-quality photo.

Tip 02

Focus On Joy

Images by @lamblovesfox

The images that you'll look back on with tears in your eyes are the ones that capture the personalities of your family in a true light. With this in mind, focus on their joy and you'll never be led astray. Use the burst mode on your camera to document a moment as it unfolds — pick your favorites from the burst right away and favorite them so that you don't have to think twice about them being in your favorites folder.

Tip 03

Capture Candids

With @kera_thompson

Just because you’re grabbing a candid shot, that doesn’t mean you should forget about basic photography principles. For a standout candid photo, make sure your background looks clean and uncluttered and your shot is set up properly. You’d be surprised how much you can fix in post, but a good photo will always have these basic elements.

Tip 04

Record for Them

With @heatherthegray

When my children grow up, I want them to be able to look back at the photos I took and remember; their favorite stuffed animal, the shirt they insisted on wearing every day for a week, learning to ride their bike, the proud look they had after figuring something out. It’s their history and ours as a family, and I want to record as much of it as I can.

Tip 05

Snap Away

With @hannahacarpenter

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a million times...TAKE A TON OF PHOTOS! The likelihood you’re going to get a great shot of your kids in one take is minuscule. If you think you have the photo you want, take 10 more. You’ll often get something better.

Tip 06

Catch Them Off Guard

Image by @lauraschmalstieg

Those split-second moment reactions really do portray real life in a way that little else can. And in favor of all that's candid — why not be an orchestrator of them? When your loved one isn’t paying attention, catch them off guard by calling their name to make them look your way. You’ll get a real take on a face that you love most.

Tip 07

Make Room for the Mundane

With @erinmayholmes

We hear it again and again — the days are long but the years are short. I end up coveting photographs of my family's mundane moments the most. These are the times that our own parents and grandparents speak so wisely of and reflect on with emotion and gratitude. Extra special outings or vacations taken afar are always valued — but never lose sight of an average day spent at the home doing nothing yet everything with those you love. Sneak out your camera only for just a few quick moments in these times so that the moment stays genuine and continues on without interruption.

Tip 8

Start With A Photo

With @kera_thompson

If you and your kiddos are at an outing, and you know you’re going to want to capture a group shot, get it out of the way! Your kids will be cleaner, and hopefully less grumpy at the start of an adventure versus the end. I like to be very clear in stating my expectations for what I’m looking for before we are even out of the car. Try saying something like: I’d love to get one shot of the whole family, and if we can cooperate, then we can have a treat as a family! Make it fun!

Tip 9

Let Them Be

With @hannahacarpenter

Let them be them, even if them is annoying ;) Sometimes my favorite photos come from when my kids are driving each other (and me) crazy. You get real emotion that way, more of a story. And at the end of the day, a story is always more interesting than just a pretty picture.

Tip 10

Be Original

With @erinmayholmes

In a world filled with social media, it can be easy for anyone to want to replicate an image that they saw and admired. While I personally find it wonderful to seek out inspiration, I also urge clients not to expect to take the exact same image they saved to their Pinterest board. Instead, let the moment naturally unfold before you. I use this at home with my own children — our photographs and homes are uniquely ours and at the end of the day, we should feel comfort and value in that.