How to Take Good Family Photos

10 Simple Tips for Taking Better Family Photos

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How to Take Good Family Photos

it's a snap

Family photos are not cheap, and costs can creep much higher depending on the photographer, their experience level, number of photos, and length of the shoot. That feels worse when the proofs that come back aren't good. One way to cut the budget is to get a tripod, camera, and timer and take the photos yourself, though the initial price of equipment can be high and there's even more risk of bad shots. Follow a few simple principles to get better photos for the time and money.

Pick a Good Time

pick the right moment

Find a time for family photos when everyone is likely to be in a good and cooperative mood. This is especially important for families with small children who might get tired or hungry. Pick a time when everyone is well rested, with full bellies.

Don't Match

don't match

Picking the right outfits is important. Don't all wear the exact same thing, because matching won't showcase everyone's unique personalities or show off their best features.

Coordinate Colors
Aldo Murillo/istockphoto

coordinate colors

Instead of matching exactly, coordinate: Pick three colors and have everyone wear something in one or more of those colors -- black, maroon, and gray, for example. If going for a traditional look, choose a few pastel or natural colors. For something more playful and energetic, go for bright, bold pops of color.

Coordinate Patters and Fabrics

coordinate patterns and fabrics

Avoid having all the men wear button-down shirts and all the females wear a sweater. Mix it up. Instead of a sweater and jeans, have one woman wear a dress or skirt, and put boots on one person and booties or heels on another. Stick a coordinating colored bow in a little girl's hair. Find a common color or pattern to suggest coordination.



Nervousness and tension shows through in pictures. Try to relax. Take a few deep breaths, count from 10 backward, or start up a conversation with a family member to distract from the task at hand. Enjoy the time with family and focus less on the camera.

Have Fun With It

have fun with it

Have a playful attitude going into the shoot. Goof around with the family, make silly faces, tickle each other, and laugh. Keep everyone laughing and smiling and good shots are certain.

Use the Right Lighting

use the right lighting

Ideally, use an area that isn't too brightly lit, but isn't dark. When inside, drape soft fabric over windows until achieving a good light. When outside, try using a shaded area.

Avoid Immediate Sun

avoid the immediate sun

Facing into the sun will make you squint at the camera, and full sunlight outside can play odd shadows across faces. Inside, direct sunlight streaming in a window can be too bright and alter complexions. Instead of standing in front of a window, stand to the side or across the room.

Include Props
Johnny Greig/istockphoto

include props

Use props, but keep them simple and functional. A little red wagon is a simple and fun way to highlight the playfulness of young kids; a chair, bench, or blanket puts family members at different levels and adds dimension to photos.

Don't Plan Every Shot

don't pose and plan every shot

The best pictures will be candid. Sure, some posed photos are great, but you don't have to stress over posing every time the camera clicks. Instead, move as normal, walk, run (or race), hug each other, let the kids play, etc. A good photographer will be clicking away the entire time you're together, so you should get plenty of good posed and non-posed pictures to choose from.