Taking Family Pictures

Looking through old family pictures is something most people enjoy. It can be a great deal of fun to look at how styles change through the years and also to see the smiling faces of your ancestors. If you are planning to take a family portrait, there are a few thing to consider.

Make it Affordable

Many retail chains have photography studios located within their stores. Typically, the photographer chooses the poses and backgrounds and all portraits are taken at their site, limiting the picture selection. Although this option doesn’t allow for much input from the subjects, the photos are generally of a reasonable quality and are quite affordable.

Professional portrait studios will usually allow the family to have some say as to how they want their pictures to look. Many will even schedule a photo session in your home or other remote location. Although not quite as inexpensive as the retain location studios, this option is normally fairly reasonable.

If you’d like to have complete freedom in choosing the location of your photo shoot and the specific poses, you’d be best off hiring an independent photographer. Many offer a complimentary consultation and will offer advice on taking photos that you will be proud to display. Prices range dramatically, as does talent. If you plan to hire an expensive photographer, ask friends and relatives for referrals, or, at the very least, check references by asking to talk to a few satisfied customers.

Capture Your Family’s Personality

Since the goal of a great family portrait is to preserve a moment in your family’s history, you want to be sure that it reflects who you really are. If you are a fun-loving, casual bunch, you don’t want your picture to be stiff and formal. Try to choose a wardrobe and location that allows your portrait to be uniquely yours.


Choosing flattering clothing makes a big difference in the final product. In general, try to dress the group in a similar, but not identical fashion. You don’t want one member to be in formalwear while another is wearing jeans and a tee shirt. At the same time, try to avoid dressing everyone too much alike or you risk looking like you are in uniforms. Some families find that wearing jeans or khaki pants with different shirts gives the portrait a connected look without sacrificing the individuality of each family member.


Try to choose a location that suits your family’s style. If you are outdoorsy types, consider a wooded setting or even a local park. All business? Then maybe a big oak desk would make the perfect backdrop. Even if you opt for studio pictures, you can help to set the mood by selecting a background that tells a little bit about who you are. For a simple, yet dramatic effect, consider an all black or all white background. In these types of pictures, there is nothing to distract from family members.

Helpful Tips

  • Be sure that children are well rested and well fed. Trying to settle a tired, hungry toddler will make the experience trying for everyone.
  • Look kids over from head to toe. Small children will likely be placed on someone’s lap, making their entire outfit visible in the pictures. Make sure that shoes are clean and in good condition or remove them and allow the kids to be barefoot.
  • In general, choose solid coloured clothing. Bright, flashy clothes tend to be distracting.
  • Dark clothing is slenderising!
  • Ask the photographer to take colour shots. You can always convert some of the shots into black and white if you’d like.
  • Try to take a number of shots – just the parents, siblings only, and maybe some of the kids with each parent separately.

Finally, remember to relax. The portraits will reflect mood, so enjoy yourself!