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Taking a Family Photo Shoot

Updated on March 22, 2011

My Latest Family Photo Shoot

Not Perfection, But Perfect, Personalities!
Not Perfection, But Perfect, Personalities! | Source
Notice The Water On My Husbands Knees; Whoops!
Notice The Water On My Husbands Knees; Whoops! | Source

Taking a Family Photo Shoot

Each time I think about taking a family photo shoot I cringe on the inside; then I get excited. I cringe because I know the preparation that precedes each photo shoot. I also know the potential drama that can disrupt the photo shoot when you get so many personalities together at the same time (I have six kids).

I get excited because once I begin the process of planning everything almost always falls together so beautifully. Sure there is a kink here or there, a personality quirk, or a stain on a shirt. Remember it is not the end of the world!

Possible Mishaps During A Family Photo Shoot:

1. An Unwilling Two Year Old Participant (any age for that matter; stress down, the storm will pass)

2. A Stained Up Outfit (always have a spare outfit handy)

3. A Location That Is Under Construction Or Closed (always have a backup location in mind)

4. Uncooperative Weather (prepare for a storm; have an inside location in mind or plan to do the shoot another day)


The First Step In Taking A Family Photo Shoot

The first decision to be made is whether the family photo shoot will be held indoors or outdoors. Commonly I choose to hold the photo shoot outside because I like to make it a fun filled experience for my entire family. We will usually make a picnic lunch to take along with a Frisbee. When considering where we should hold the photo shoot I commonly lean toward locations that are luscious with grass or have water that can background the images.

Using your imagination is vital when determining the location of your next master piece.

Possible Locations To Take A Family Photo Shoot (always use your imagination):

1. A Lake, Waterfall, River, Stream, Or Creek (the water can add character to the photos)

2. A Location With A Rustic, Old Time Look (an old cabin, an old log fence, a red cinder road, ext…)

3. A Park or School (props are readily available “swing, slide, ext..” and grass is usually luscious and green)

4. Available Historical Locations (museums, grand canyon, ext…)

5. A Friend/Family Members Yard or Property (can find unique landscaping from time to time)

6. A Baseball Field, Basketball Court, ext…


A Basket For A Prop! This Photograph Was Enhanced In Adobe Photoshop
A Basket For A Prop! This Photograph Was Enhanced In Adobe Photoshop | Source
A Fence As A Background! This Photograph Was Enhanced In Adobe Photoshop
A Fence As A Background! This Photograph Was Enhanced In Adobe Photoshop | Source

The Second Step In Taking a Family Photo Shoot

The second batch of decisions that have to be considered consist of outfits, accessories, and props that will be used in the family photo shoot. As I mull over what outfits to have my family members wear I always consider the setting in which the photo shoot is going to take place.

For example if the location of the event is the park on a nice warm day I would have my daughter wear a sundress and my sons wear dress shorts and a nice but casual top. On the other hand If I held the photo shoot in a rustic looking location I might have my family dress in old time fashion.

Accessories or props also are a great way to add personality to a family photo. For example, by having my daughter hold a book an air of intellect is added to the image. On the other hand my two year old son might enjoy sitting in his wagon during a photo shoot, this is a double whammy, my job as photographer is simplified and he his content and smiley.

I find that when I open up my mind creatively the ideas just keep coming resulting in uniquely memorable family photo shoots.

Possible Accessories & Props That Can Be Used In Family Photo Shoots (always use your imagination):

  1. Most Any Toy (entertains the child, adds personality, ext…)
  2. Wagons, Tricycles or Bikes
  3. Purses or Hand Bags
  4. Umbrellas
  5. Hats and Scarves
  6. Books, Magazines, ext…
  7. Flowers (background, in hair, on a shirt collar, ext…)
  8. Musical Instruments (drums, guitars, ext…)
  9. Sports Equipment (balls, bats, mitts, goggles, rackets, clubs, ext…)
  10. Water Toys (balls, enter tubes, rafts, ext…)
  11. Trunks and Suitcases
  12. Antiques (books, vases, ext…)
  13. Tea Set
  14. French Fries (great shut up and be happy accessory)


Advice In The Moment Of Taking A Family Photo Shoot

The moment in which you are actively taking your family photo shoot can be a little overwhelming. However if you have already figured out your location (and back up location), previously have prepared all clothing (and potential clothing changes), accessories, and props you should be set to attack your family photo shoot.

You can arrange you family in positions that aspire to your fancy. Remember every format you use will not work, that is alright, just keep moving forward trying new ideas. You may have to take a break every now and then, especially if your family photo shoot includes young children. Just do not get discouraged and give up.

Every picture you take does not have to be “Picture Perfect”. In other words everyone does not have to be smiling in every picture or in order to create an awesome image. Some of my favorite family photos do not display smiling faces but they are so full of character and personality.

Rocks For A Background
Rocks For A Background | Source
At The Park
At The Park | Source

My Personal Family Photo Shoot Advice

Being the perfectionist that I am I constantly rush around fixing hair, accessories, and shirt collars during the photo shoot. I am continually rearranging accessories and props and repositioning each person in the picture. “Say Cheese If You Please” is my give me a smile constantly repeated phrase (it usually works).

Through part of the photo shoot I photograph my entire family. Tripods and camera timers work wonders in getting a complete family photo (photographer included). I take little breaks here and there throughout the family photo shoot and capture lone individuals on camera. This helps so that everyone does not get burned out before the photo shoot is complete.

Last Minute Family Photo Shoot Detail

  • Make sure to dress yourself and your significant other (all adults) for the blessed event.
  • Make sure to have a pack of wipes handy the entire photo shoot.
  • Make sure to keep a smile on your face; after all everyone has to look at you through the entire photo shoot.
  • Make sure to try and keep a relaxed atmosphere it will make a world of difference in the outcome.
  • Keep it real; every picture does not have to have smiling faces only character and personality.
  • Last but not least have FUN. Remember you are creating lasting memories not only for yourself but for your entire family.


Taking a Family Photo Shoot by Jaime Dawn Thompson is licensed under a Creative   Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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