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A bride and groom sitting on the stairs.

Jakrapong Kongmalai/flickr

Family portraits offer a timeless way to celebrate your togetherness — but to create a memory that you’ll really want to cherish for a lifetime, both the family and photographer should have a polished plan in place.
The beautifully candid experiences you enjoy with your family make for incredible memories, but when you flip through old photo albums, the pictures you’ll smile and laugh about the most are always the family portraits.
Brides will always be beautiful, and beaming and new bundles of joy will always make you gush, but the instant you see a family photo, those memories of huddling into a tight frame always come rushing back.
Family portraits are the ideal way to showcase your bond and capture that moment in time forever. But the effect will be lost if your photos are bland, or have some fatal flaw that makes you wish you’d done them differently.
To avoid this doomsday scenario and create a worthy keepsake, both the family and the photographer should be well-prepared for the shoot.
For the Family
Kristen Duke suggests choosing locations ahead of time to coincide with where you’d like to eventually display your photos. Keep the colors of your home in mind so that the photo background doesn’t clash with the home decor.
After finding your palette, choose a location that’s memorable. Duke says popular locations include the beach, fields, urban settings, or — as long as it’s clean and tidy — your house!
Beyond location, photographer Simon Bray emphasizes that positioning is equally important, according to tuts+. Be sure that everyone is in easy, plain view — don’t let shorter people get blocked out, or have everyone clumped together on one level. Vary the picture’s composition by staggering your family, and get the kids on a lower sightline so they can be easily seen.
Also, be wary of light placement in your photo: when the sun gets in your family’s eyes, expect a lot of squinting and unhappy faces, so find a good light for each of your portrait’s subjects!
Creativity also plays a crucial role in family portraits, so if your kids have an idea, let them run with it. Think of your picture as a game in which you’re not allowed to say no! Even though you’re looking to capture something serious, silly poses and ideas can sometimes look great, and they might even offer an honest perspective on your family’s dynamic.
Looking back, you’ll always have a good laugh remembering how a particular picture came to be.

For the Photographer

A closeup of a photographer and their camera.


As a photographer, the family you’re photographing trusts that you have a keen eye and know how to take a great photograph. You might already know the best lens to use, or which puppet tends to be most effective at making the baby stop crying, but there are a few extra things you can do as a professional to make your photos truly stand out and impress your clients.
Of course, the posed portrait shoot will turn out great results, but don’t be afraid to keep your eye behind the viewfinder even when the family isn’t posed and ready to go.
Bray says that personal moments make great photographs — be sure to capture those special moments as they happen, like mom and dad sharing a loving moment behind the scenes, or siblings playing together off to the side.
On Pinhole Pro, Jessica Washburn adds that it’s important to put your clients at ease. Explaining your plan for the session as a whole can calm parents’ nerves and keep children comfortable.
And make sure the family knows they don’t always have to be stiff and smiling — interacting and conversing between the flashes of the camera can generally make things more smoothly, and make for some great, candid shots.
Washburn says that a photographer can further help families by encouraging flexibility. Stress and anxiety at a photoshoot will come from unmet expectations, with many clients expressing frustration because they can’t achieve that impossibly perfect vision.
Plans change, but flexibility will keep the session light and fun, and it might lead to photos that exceed even the highest expectations.
Photographers should remember that the family needs to be comfortable if the shoot is going to be productive. Everyone should come to the session well-fed, rested, and ready. If parents want their children to pose a certain way, the children have to be comfortable with that pose and should have practiced it before the shoot.
Make sure the kids know what to expect, and that this is a fun experience, not a frightening one. By making the kids feel comfortable, parents are more relaxed, making everyone more ready to be photographed.
Whether you’re taking the picture or starring in it, preparing your family for their portrait will put everyone at ease, get them excited, and make for a truly beautiful memory. When it’s time to turn that memory into something that will last a lifetime, both professionals and families know to trust Printique.
Our white-glove quality checks and top-of-the-line materials will ensure that your portraits are made to be viewed for generations, so that all parties involved are guaranteed satisfaction.