7 tips for taking awesome family photos
Photo by Yulianto Poitier

We love shouting about the joys of taking family photos you’ll be proud to share. So, with World Photo Day upon us, we’ve gathered together some top tips to help you snap away with confidence.

  1. Go pro or do-it-yourself?

Do you need to get a pro to take your family photos?

Is it time to get a professional photographer in to capture your family photos? Or are you happy to get behind the lens yourself? Gone are the days of professional family portraits meaning an awkward group shot in a beige studio. Professional photographers can come to your home and capture informal pictures or come with you and your family to your favorite location. Think about whether the occasion you want to capture suits formal pictures or if going with the flow would be ok. If it’s a big day – like a birthday or a christening – would being responsible for the pictures stress you out and stop you enjoying the day?

If the only thing stopping you taking photos of your family is your own confidence, remember the old saying – practice makes perfect! You don’t need expensive equipment to take great shots and, thanks to digital photography, you can see how you’re doing as you go along.

You know your family best. And you know what you’re hoping for from your family pictures. Getting a pro in to do a special shoot once in a while can be a great way of capturing keepsake photos. But you can also get wonderful shots of natural family life yourself. Read on for pointers on making your own photos the best they can be.

  1. Have fun

Putting the people you’re taking photos of at ease is the key to awesome photos. Think of the times when you and your family have the most fun. It might be getting together for brunch at your favorite restaurant, taking your dog for a walk in the woods or just chilling in front of the tv on a Saturday afternoon. When everyone is relaxed, it makes it much easier to capture natural shots that reflect what your family actually looks like.

Even if you’re photographing a formal occasion, there’s no need for everyone to be standing up straight, looking serious and in the same direction. Experiment with different set ups. Could you take a photo on the stairs, all looking up or down, or sitting in height order on the couch? How about getting some movement into it? Jumping or striking-a-pose shots can work well if that kind of thing would suit your family. Or you could go for a group of shots, some full-length and some focusing on hands, feet or profiles. We also love the trend for recreating the same shot, in the same place, on the same occasion each year – such a fun way to see how your family changes year on year.

Here are a few fun family shots we’ve found from a quick search for inspiration. Follow photographers or family-friendly accounts on social media to spark some ideas of your own.

  1. Use the right light
Try taking family photos outdoors
Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Getting the lighting right is a big part of snapping the best family photos. But you don’t need specialist gear or a studio setting – just remember these few simple tips.

Wherever you’re shooting, try not to have the light source directly behind you otherwise everyone will be squinting in your photos!

If you’re snapping pics indoors, don’t assume you’ll need a flash. Use natural light from the windows, positioning the subjects of your photos facing or alongside the windows. If the sun coming in is very strong, try out different shots with the curtains slightly closed to see how it looks. You could also drape a white sheet up so the light is more flattering.

Play around with different ways of using the light in family photos
Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay

Outside, you could use the sun to create interesting pictures using shadows or silhouettes. Or find a spot with dappled shade to cast a lovely light on your subjects. And if the weather’s windy or rainy, don’t worry. The dramatic skies and changing light can make for some memorable photos.

Use natural light to help when taking family photos
Photo by Tim Mossholder
  1. Choose your backdrop
Look for interesting places to take family photos
Photo by Kat Jayne

Location, location, location. Your family could be the cutest, most cheerful subjects, but if you don’t think about the background too, you could end up ruining some really great photo opportunities.

If you’re taking pics indoors, do a quick tidy up so that one-in-a-million shot of your little one isn’t crowded out by a pile of laundry in the background. For close-ups of babies or pets, you could try using a family heirloom blanket as a backdrop.

If you’re outside, look for color, pattern and movement to give your photos interest. Don’t forget to check for signs, poles or anything else that might end up looking like it’s sticking out of your Great Uncle Jack’s head! If you’re in a popular spot where you want to include the views in the photo, try different angles or moving away from where the crowds are taking photos to get a fresh perspective.

Think about the background when taking family photos
Image by 5540867 from Pixabay
  1. Set the scene

Ok, so this one may take a little bit of persuading, especially if you’ve got a big family group to please. To make for some really memorable shots, you could pick a theme using clothing or props. You could ask everyone to wear their favorite hat or bring a treasured childhood toy. If you family’s up for it, you could all wear the same color, or dress up as superheroes. The theme can be as simple or complicated, as serious or crazy, as you like.

Try using a color theme for your family photos
Photo created by freepic.diller – www.freepik.com
  1. Take charge

Sometimes you’ll get the best family photos if you just let the chaos unfold around you and snap away. But there may be times when you need to take control of the herd and get a few shots of people sitting still!

Time your photo shoot when everyone’s least likely to be hungry, grumpy or tired. After breakfast is a good call or at the end of a day out when the kids are having some chill-out time and the grown-ups have had their afternoon coffee to keep them awake. You may have to offer some sort of bribe to get everyone sitting still long enough to get the shots you want. A big celebration cake that doesn’t get cut until the photos are done could be a good shout.

If you’ve got a grouping in mind for your photo, don’t be afraid to ask people to move – politely, of course! – or give clear instructions for where you want them to look. If you’re dealing with a large group of relatives, this can be quite a test for remembering names. You could either make a joke of it and refer to everyone by a number. Or get a member of your family who knows everyone to help you out, so you don’t make any slip-ups.

Include pets when you're taking family photos
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

If you’re including family pets in the frame, have a big stock of their favorite treats on hand to keep them from fidgeting too much.

  1. Show the love
Taking family photos is an opportunity to capture beautiful memories
Image by jty11117777 from Pixabay

Thinking about all of the above when you’re trying to take great photos of your family can be a bit overwhelming. But try not to let the desire to get a good picture overshadow actually spending quality time together as a family. If people aren’t playing ball with what you had planned, just go with the flow and snap whatever shots you can manage.

Just remember, the main thing is to be in the moment with your loved ones. And if you happen to get a great picture as well, then that’s a bonus.