Family Picture Ideas: 11 Tips for Posing

It’s getting to be that time of  year…time to start thinking about Christmas Cards.  One of my besties and I have been texting back and forth trying to pick a date and location to take each others family portraits.

Let’s talk a bit about Family Picture Ideas:  Tips on Posing and SLR Metering.

Ashlee Raubach Photography

I love doing a portrait swap, especially now that our sweeties are older and can manage to look at the camera (even if it takes some potty humor and a bit of a bribe).  And the good thing about having one of my besties on the other end of the lens…she knows I’m relying on her to make me look good.  (Tips on Looking Skinny & Cute for the Camera).  I don’t know about you, but my eyes naturally critique one person in our annual family portraits…me!  In effort to keep moms across the nation calm and relaxed in their family picture, let’s chat a bit about the details.

Simplicity Photography

1. Make a Plan.  Figure out where you will take the picture and when that area is least busy.  Discuss if you’ll take one family’s pictures completely and then the other family’s pictures completely or if you’ll switch back and forth through the session.

Photography by Allison

2. Lighting.  This wouldn’t be a photography tip post if I didn’t mention lighting.  We’ve talked many a times about lighting being the key element to photography.  Knowing this, it makes total sense to time your outdoor photography shoots strategically, too.  Right!  My favorite picture times are morning and evening.  Ideal is up 2 hours after dawn and 2 hours before sunset.  Cloudy days can actually be good for this sort of thing if it’s just mild overcast as the shadows are a lot softer, the time of day matters a lot less, and no one is squinting or wearing sunglasses or a hat.  Overhead sun causes shadows under the eyes and nose and makes relaxing the eyes next to impossible.  Shade is a great asset to moments of intense sun, but beware of shade from trees and objects that will cause splotchy lighting.  If your only available time slot is when the sun is shining overhead, finding full shade is pretty important….perhaps an indoor, lifestyle shoot would be a fun alternative option!?!

Laci Davis Photography

3. Camera Metering.  Use this as a rough guide or a starting point and not the final authority for your particular photo shoot…every situation will require a bit of tweaking!  Start with your SLR camera settings something like this and then make the necessary adjustments!  Set your camera with an ISO 100 or 200, your aperture around f/8, and the fastest shutter speed you can get, being sure to keep it above 1/60s to avoid blur from people moving.  If you aren’t able to reach great light with these settings, raise your ISO as high as 400.   If this is a little new for you, it’s a good idea to shoot some practice shots in the light & environment where you’ll be shooting and then check them out on a computer (not just on the back of the camera) to make sure you’re happy with the results.  Any work you can do ahead of time will help ease the tension and result in great relaxed family portraits.

Alisa Florence Photography

4. Equipment.  I’m a huge believer in a tripod.  It tells everyone where to look and it helps ensure we walk a way with a few pictures from a distance (which tend to be my favorite).  The other item you’ll for sure want to have with you during your photo shoot is a handheld remote.  I can pay attention to the details much better when I’m looking at the life-size pose in front of me rather than squinting through the viewfinder.

Alison Janki Photography

5. Take lots of shots.  Family members will look away, eyes will blink, wiggling will happen, and faces will look crazy at times (and I’m not just talking about the kids).  Take a number of shots of each pose.  And take a variety of poses to ensure you get at least one that looks totally natural and almost magazine worthy!  I love variety…some close ups, some from a distance, some with all eyes on the camera and some when the family is laughing and enjoying each other.  A variety of shots will give you more options when the buzzer rings and the flexibility of your subjects has abruptly come to an end!

Chynnesue Photography

6..  Keep it Moving.  If your family is anything like mine, Dad and the kids will loose interest before Mom does!  Do your best to not get hung up on the details.  When all is said and done, most of the time, natural beats perfection.  Have a few poses already thought out…do a little arranging….then start snapping away.  Again, take lots of pics…from the front, left, right, up high, a little lower…getting dressed again and repeating the session would kinda stink!

Studio Viohl Photographers

7. Pay Attention to Details:  Little elements can distract from an awesome picture.  Once everyone is posed and ready, do a quick scan for tangled necklaces, hair in faces, uneven spacing, too much leg showing, chins tilted down to far causing the dreaded double chin…etc.  You know your audience…try to capture a great representation of their family!

Pinkle Toes Photography

9. Posing.  Contact always looks great.  Snuggle, hold hands, rub cheeks, wrap an arm around a neck (loosely), family portraits are intended to have warmth so enjoy each other.  Hands can go in pockets, on hips, or crossed for a more natural look than just letting the hands hang loose on the sides.  When holding a baby or child, do not put them directly under your chin…looks odd in the picture.  Moms…turn your body a bit to the side, shifting weight to the back foot (the one furthest from the camera).  The knee of the front leg should be slightly bent with the toe pointing towards camera.   (Here are more photogenic photography tips).  And my personal pet peeve, don’t push a child to the back row on their own.  (Maybe I’m sensitive to this because I was a middle child?!?)  If necessary for your positioning, have dad take the back row and position the child in a lap or on either side.

4 Clicks

10.  End on a good note.  Not only is it fun for me to take pictures with one of my besties, it just so happens that my kids are besties with her kids and our hubbies totally love chilling together.  I love that our family portrait sessions will be remembered with fond memories because we are able to end them on a good note…together!  Usually we meet early, take a bunch of pictures, and then head back to one of our houses for breakfast.  My bestie and I then spend a good hour laughing and smiling at the pictures (and stressing a bit, too).  It’s a hunt to find the treasures mixed in with the bulk of shots…but no worries because that brings us to number 11…

Spectrum Photography

10.  Editing. If the results aren’t brag worthy, remember that photography skills are gained primarily through experience.  Be thankful for the memories captured and don’t give up on the portraits.  Amazing results can come from editing.  I have a few tips for photoshop and picmonkey under the photo section of my navigation bar.  And just in case tomorrow is the BIG day, here’s some more inspiration!!!

If all else fails, focus on the cute little toes!!!

Feet Photography

miska miller

Jump for Joy


Take Better Photos

Family Cuddles


Sydney Middleton

Kisses for Mommy

Family Portraits

Bret Hurston

Portrait Must for First Christmas


Judd Sather Photography

This reminds me of Jon and Kate.

Family Portraits

Krysta Moes Photography

Snowflakes that Stay on My Nose and Eyelashes


Ants Magazine

Too Much Fun

Creative Portraits Family

Tim Will Photography

I’ll be thinking of you as you try to implement these Family Picture Ideas:  11 Tips on Posing and SLR Metering!  Before you do a thing, definitely take a deep breath and try to enjoy the time spent together…some of the best pictures aren’t posed perfectly…choose to smile, smile, smile…it’ll melt some of your stress away!  Check this out for tips on picking family picture outfits.

More Portrait Ideas (here)

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  1. Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing! Angela Butler – Clarksville, Tennessee, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky Photographer

  2. Great ideas and tips. I really like #6 – neutrals + simple background + good pose = perfect family portrait.

  3. Isabella says:

    You have really made a great post that gives complete idea about photography tactics. Whatever you mentioned regarding Lighting, Camera metering, taking lot of shoots and paying attention to details are really very good and most important as well. It’s a great post keep posting these kind of helpful tips for photography.

  4. Miranda says:

    This is a great post! Your tips and posing are specific but easy to remember. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Jessie K says:

    Thank you for the great tips!

  6. Wow! Gorgeous stuff! I am your newest follower and was hoping that you would hop on over to my blog and return the favor!!


    Thank you!

  7. Great post! Our family still has the photos taken with a room air conditioner over my right shoulder among other things. Back then they were hideous. But now looking back we are glad we kept them. They give us a good laugh!

  8. Wow!!! I am so inspired! You are so amazing……
    I need you to come over and take pictures of my family……

  9. These are some wonderful family portraits! Thanks for the pointers. We are having our family portaits made next month with not just my family of six but my two sisters’ families and our parents. Should be interesting!

  10. Great tips! Totally sharing these with my bud who’s trading off family photos with us this year.

  11. Kristy @ Shona Skye Creations says:

    Great tips! Pinning this one for future reference!

    Kristy @ Shona Skye Creations

  12. Carol says:

    Thanks for the great tips! You are so lucky to have a good friend that can take your family photos. Now that my children are grown and gone those early family portraits are so much more precious.

  13. Bliss says:

    I read a alot of photo related posts on blogs and rarely comment. I just gotta say, your tips are right on.


  14. kelly arent-copper roof interiors llc says:

    Great tips!! Love your site…refreshing!! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Shannah @ Just Us Four says:

    Awesome tips! Right now, only one of my kids is old enough to actually look at the camera and smile on cue. I can’t wait until they are both a little older and we can get some awesome family photographs.

  16. Great tips, thanks! Everyone in going to be wanting to do family portraits for their holiday cards!

  17. great tips, i’m pinning this!

  18. Brenda says:

    So much awesome info!!! I am so grateful for this – the quality of our pictures in the past has not been very good. At all.
    This must have taken you so much time to put together – thank you for doing so. I have it pinned and waiting for me to study once I finally get the outfits together!

  19. Moni says:

    Love the tips on taking great family pics….I should pay close attention to this.
    Thank you for your sweet comment on my “vanilla” post

  20. Pattys Pretty things says:

    Thanks for the great tips and at such a perfect time!

  21. Anja says:

    Gorgeous photos – what a great post! My camera is really crappy, I should really get a more advanced one! =)

  22. Awesome tips, Aimee! Thanks so much for taking the time to put this post together.