Tips for Capturing Creative Family Portraits

Creating the perfect family portrait can be a lot of pressure for some family members.  While a regular family portrait is always nice, creative family photo shoots can leave you with not only some fun and different photos but they also help you create some amazing and fond memories. When your professional family photographer really knows what they are doing, you can be confident that you will end up with a finished product that’s out of the ordinary in all the best ways.

A quality and creative family photographer should know how to direct family members to get the best shots, but knowing some tips going into your family portrait shoot can make their job easier and you feel more comfortable too.  Here are some family portrait ideas that will give you photos your Nana can be proud to share with friends at the hair salon!

If you are the kind of person who never says no to trying something new, creativity, and family, you’ll enjoy this post!


Tip 1: Use Movement to your advantage—create action shots!

Encourage family members to engage in a fun activity that will elicit natural reactions.  Let the children play a little game of tag, have your husband toss your son in the air, have your whole family throw some leaves in the air during a fall shoot, have everyone slowly run towards the camera! Anything to creates natural movement and real reactions to it will capture a sense of realness and a feel of “living in the moment”.

If you’re the photographer, don’t stop shooting, let the action create your perfect shot and keep the energy high so your subjects keep moving! By keeping a photo shoot moving and highlighting that movement, you will be less likely to lose people to frustration or boredom; many people aren’t overly excited to get their photograph taken standing perfectly still like a manikin in a department store.


Tip 2: Engage with one another

During a photo shoot, it can sometimes seem that as soon as the camera comes out, people often freeze up and feel awkward and uncomfortable. To ease the tension and help everyone get more comfortable, encourage people to engage and interact with each other and especially with their children. Take your time because the longer families spend focusing on just being together and enjoying each others company, the more happy moments will start to come through and the less everyone in the photo will over-think how they look. Those moments you don’t even realize are happening like a sister staring lovingly at her baby brother, or a grandpa laughing at his silly little grandchild.

Don’t force the engagement either- take your time, slow down the instructions and quiet your voice when you’re shooting. Just spend time encouraging families to engage and interact closely while you capture the real moments. Children love to be close to their parents and siblings, laughing and snuggling, so capitalize on that and praise them for doing it! Each family member engages differently so make sure you spend the time to notice each unique interaction and capture that.


TIP 3: Go With The Flow—Capture Candid Photos

Candid photos of unexpected reactions or situations can make for the most genuine looking moments. Always have your camera up and ready for anything that may happen and laugh it up to keep the energy light no matter what happens. Be prepared to capture the unexpected like a wave crashing and soaking the whole family or a kid throwing a tantrum. Forcing the engagement to be too rigid may cause you to miss out on the authentic engagements and you might miss some moments that could make for some pretty funny shots.

Some more examples of going with the flow could be sneaking half the family some water balloons for a surprise water balloon fight or capturing the look on a child’s face as the wind blows and takes her hat away with it!


TIP 4: Get Every Possible Combination of People

Be sure to capture the family in every single possible variation. You can’t go back in time if you forgot to get a sibling shot. Start with the biggest group or the entire family and then remove and add family members as you go. Get an all girls shot, and all guys shot, one with just the cousins or just mom and dad. If pets are involved, take shots with them at the beginning while they aren’t too distracted with all the movement of the shoot.


TIP 5: Have a Mini Couples Session

If you’ve got kids, or are shooting an entire family, chances are there are very few professional couple photos of the parents. Use this as an opportunity to get some good shots of just the two of them. Capture both traditional and lifestyle/candid poses while you let the kids take a break.


TIP 6: Don’t Be Afraid to get Silly

It’s been scientifically proven that smiling can create endorphins, which make us happy. Encourage the family to loosen up and have fun. Funny faces help get the family in a lighter mood and more open for creative action shots. Allow the family to goof off, laugh, and play together, and then capture the fun reactions and candid moments while it’s happening.

There you have it, 6 tips for creative and fun family photography! If you have any tips of your own, I love to hear about them. Looking for a professional family photographer who will help you creating the most fun and unique photos? I’m your woman. I am so lucky to be doing what I love and I have a passion for capturing life’s best moments. Take a look at my family photo gallery here!

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