4 Tips for Taking Great Family Portraits

mother and son family photo


Taking photos of families is so much fun! And even better when you can add you own artistic touch to it. Families will come to you because of the way you view things, so don’t be afraid to develop your own style. Artistic Family photos are what a lot of families are looking for.

Avoid a formal look


artistic family portrait


In order to avoid a formal look, you’ll need to focus on the people. Instead of having your subjects stand at attention and look at the camera, have them interact with each other. Get close enough that their noses touch so that it looks like they’re sharing an intimate moment together. Try different angles; don’t just shoot from eye level—get down low or get up high! Make sure you’re using good light (for example: morning or sunset light is best).

The more relaxed the family is, the best the pictures will turn out. One great way to help everybody shake off the stress is to get to know at least some members of the family before the session. A quick phone or video call will help you get acquainted and hep you gather tons of information to use during the shoot. If you are not the phone call type, you can send your clients a questionnaire to fill. Ask them questions that will give you an insight into their lives like, what makes your kids laugh, does your partner mind having their pictures taken, what are some of your favorite activities to do with your family

Styling plays a huge role in the feel of the photos. Instead of stiff and formal clothing, encourage your clients to dress in a more romantic and cinematic way. Looking for inspiration? Here’s a blog post I wrote about styling 


Include the whole family in the preparation


Most of the time you will be in touch with one person in the family during the booking and planning of the session. While this is all very normal, it also means that you are relying on that person to pass on information to everybody else involved.

Be very clear with the client who is communicating with you, let them know that all the prep information you send should be shared with the other family members, specially other adults. You might want to create a PDF that you can send for them to print of forward to their partner or spouse.

In order to capture and preserve the memories of the family,  it’s important for you include them in the process. You don’t want to miss out on capturing that special moment when siblings are interacting with each other or when mom is having a sweet moment with the kids because the other partner doesn’t understand your style.

Things you should ask your client to share with others involved in the session:


  • your photography style and how you achieve your look
  • styling information
  • tips to prepare for the session
  • location and time required to get there



Capture everyone’s personality

portland family photographer



Take time to capture the personality of each family member and, most importantly, understand that different people will have different personalities. Use your environment and good old-fashioned humor to help them feel at ease.

Remember that asking people to smile will most likely not yield genuine expressions, focus on making them smile or laugh instead.

You can read more about why I don’t ask kids to smile for photos in this blog post.

This can be as simple as asking a child to take off their shoes or throwing on a hat for an adult. If you’re not sure what poses will work, experiment with different angles and expressions—the key is making it fun! Letting everyone play around until they find something they love will make all the difference in how relaxed they are when it comes time for actual photos. You might even want to create a Pinterest board to show them for some inspiration

If you have kids or pets who aren’t as interested in being photographed as others might be (and most do!), think about how these people may interact with each other during portraits—or by themselves! That’s where some great shots come from: capturing those moments when someone isn’t aware that the camera is pointed at them at all times during portrait sessions.


Show emotions and relationships

mother and daughter studio photo


In addition to making sure your subjects are posed properly, it’s important to show the emotions and relationships of each person in your family portrait.

  • Show the emotions of the people in your photo. If someone is laughing, make sure you capture it! If someone looks angry, try to capture that too. All emotions are beautiful and worthy of being photographed. As long as there’s a range of emotions being shown on the photos, people will appreciate it. If they’re bored or uninterested, try to get them involved with something else or change up where they’re standing so they have more energy or excitement.
  • Help people relate to one another by using body language and facial expressions that are natural and genuine—not forced or awkward-looking. An easy way to do this is by asking everyone questions about their relationship with each other (like “What do you like most about your brother?”) before taking their photo together so they can give thoughtful answers while looking at each other rather than talking straight into a camera lens without turning around to face whoever asked them the question first).

These four tips will help you improve your photography skills


These four tips will help you improve your photography skills. They are simple, easy to follow and not expensive to implement. The tips won’t take up any of your precious time either; they’re not hard to implement and you don’t need a degree in art or photography to understand them!



Focusing on each person’s personality  and encouraging them to have fun will lead you to more genuine and artistic pictures. Clients will keep coming back to you for your unique style and point of view.


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Hi, I’m Evelynne. I love finding beauty in the small things and poetic moments between people who care for each other deeply. My photos are full of love, deep feelings and imperfections. I want your pictures to show how you truly lived and loved people around you.

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