Family Photoshoots: 10 Tips for Success

The hardest thing about family photoshoots isn’t finding families who want their pictures taken. It’s finding creative ways to take original, memorable photos. Here are 10 tips for making your next family photoshoot profitable for all concerned.

1. Include a free frame with every picture

When composing a photograph during a family photoshoot, you have a number of options for composition. Basics like the rule of thirds and leading lines can make an impact and improve your pictures. But you should also consider natural framing. As you look around your location, look for natural frames. Then put your family inside one of those frames. When you compose a family portrait with a natural frame, you direct the viewer’s eye to your family, and add depth and dimension to your photo. Natural framing is an easy enough technique to learn. The hard part is finding natural frames. But as you can see from these images, natural frames add a lot of impact to a simple family photoshoot.

2. Ham it up

Nothing adds charm and warmth to a family photo better than some good old-fashioned goofiness. When you get your family to act silly and play around, they loosen up, smile, laugh and let their personalities show. Sometimes you have to stage the playfulness. Other times, the family members will follow your lead, act the goat, and give you some amazing photos.

3. Replace your backdrop

You might not be tired of your studio backdrops, but plenty of your clients are. So on your next family photoshoot, get rid of the backdrop altogether and find something more interesting to put behind your subjects. As you can see, just about anything can make for a dramatic backdrop—even a bull. So don’t be timid. Get out there and find something interesting to put behind your subjects during your next family photoshoot.

4.Turn things around

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then what’s the back of a head? Or the side of a head? The reason we ask is that not every family photoshoot has to feature the family looking at the camera. Not every photo has to show the eyes of each family member. As you can see, sometimes you can capture the essence of a family during a photoshoot by having them turn away from the camera. And sometimes (see the photo of the shadows on the wall), your subjects don’t even have to be in your frame at all.

5.Get moving

Traditional family photoshoots produce traditional family portraits. Mum and dad and the kids sitting. Mum and dad and the kids standing. And there’s the problem. Most families, especially families with young children, don’t spend much time just sitting or just standing. If you want to capture these families in a memorable way during your next family photoshoot, get them moving. Get them to hop, jump, skip—anything that adds motion and excitement to their family portraits.

6.Look for leading lines

One way to add instant drama to your family photoshoot is to find leading lines and then put your family at the end of them. Leading lines are lines in your location that lead to the subject of the image. Fences, roads, railway tracks and pathways are all examples of leading lines. Leading lines make a natural path for the eye to follow through the elements of your photo to your subjects.

7.Find some props

The good news about props in family photoshoots is that they make your portraits more interesting. The bad news is that most props make your family portraits contrived and fake. They make your photos scream, “I am staged!” Since this is not the look you are after, you should look for and use original props. As you can see from these images by award-winning family photographers, props can be just about anything, from a tricycle to a pumpkin. So use your imagination. Ditch the hats and boas and hunt for something unique to make the images from your family photoshoot pop.

8.Shoot the whole family

If your family portrait clients are typical, they are a young family that owns a pet, usually a dog. And if they are typical of most pet-owing families, they consider thei pet a member of their family. Which means your family photoshoot should include at least a few photos of the entire family—that’s mum, dad, the kids, and the pet.

9.If there’s a baby, do something adorable

Babies are adorable. And you’d think it’s hard to take a poor picture of a family if there’s an adorable baby in the frame. But plenty of family photographers take plain boring photos of families with babies. On your next family photoshoot, turn things upside down, shake things up and in any way you can, make your photos originals. Put the baby in an unusual setting. Show a before birth and after birth photo. Mix it up.

10. Go the distance

Every photography instructor will tell you that in your family portraits, you should fill the frame. Your subjects should not be far away. This means that, to create a memorable image during your next family photoshoot, one that defies convention, you should consider putting your family in the distance. Maybe even on the horizon. Look at these images, and see what’s possible by not filling your frame.

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