family portrait tips
5 tips for group poses

How do you take good family portraits?  Here are 5 family portrait tips to use for families and small groups that will help your portraits stand out.  You can take beautiful and creative family portraits with just a little planning.

1. decide on a feeling

Beach portraitCasual storytelling portrait

Rather than just plop down your subject on the couch and take a quick snapshot, think it out in your mind ahead of time. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in portrait photography is not having at least somewhat of a game plan before you start posing.

What kind of feeling do you want your photograph to convey? Will it have a fun and relaxed mood? Will it be serious and posed? Perhaps you want a formal family portrait.

If you've ever viewed a family portrait and heard yourself saying, "Wow, that's a really nice portrait," then it may be that style of photograph you wish to create.

In this beach portrait above, we captured a family enjoying a walk along the beach. Although we planned the photo and had the subjects make several trips along this strip of sand, it does not appear to be a posed image.

2. look for natural ways to frame in your family pose

Look for existing backgrounds or other objects that you can use to frame the family posePavilion provided good lighting

What I mean by that is to look for ways to use existing things in the environment to frame in your subject when possible. When you're outdoors that could be a couple of trees to the left and right of your subject.

I used the wooden support posts as a partial framing device in this portrait of this couple during a family shoot in a local park.

It had started to rain a little during our photography session, so we ducked under the roof of the pavilion. I stood out in the rain while my subjects stood under cover of the roof of the pavilion.

I had to be careful to position myself so that the tree behind this couple did not appear to grow out of either of their heads.

3. look for a good background for your family portrait

Look for a good background situation behind the family when you pose themNice pose for these subjects, but
The background isn't the best.

Find an angle that gives you a pleasing background. Sometimes moving your camera sideways just a few feet can improve your background.

Avoid distracting backgrounds when you pose your group. Whenever I do beach photography, I also have to plan around the direction of the wind and direction and intensity of the sunlight.

With beach portraits, If the sky is very clear and it's still before sunset, the sun can be too harsh for me to shoot with the water behind my subjects.

On the east coast of our country, the sun sets over the land. You have to seek out good backgrounds where the lighting on your subjects is good as well.

In this family portrait, I liked the arrangement of subjects I cam up with, but wasn't thrilled with the background. Later on, we posed the family with the ocean waves as the background.

4. consider a family portrait that will convert to black and white nicely

Another family portrait tip is to consider making black and white photos.

Black and white photography can have many effects on the emotional response we get when viewing it. Black and white creates a historical feel to portraits.

Pre-visualize how they clothing, lighting and background will look as a black and white family portraitSolid colored clothing translates
to black and white well.

With digital photography, it's easy to take color portraits and edit them into black and white portraits afterward, but clothing and the brightness of the background are big factors on whether your color portrait will look good as a black and white portrait.

5. Focus on the eyes

Readers want to know where to focus when shooting a family portrait. The eyes are the windows to the soul and are the absolute most important thing to have focused properly with family portraits. If your pose has subjects at different distances from your camera, you need to use a small enough aperture to get adequate depth of field.

family portrait eyes focused

This portrait was posed at the family's place of business, a restaurant. The woman with the red sweater was several feet closer to the camera than the gentleman dressed in a grey sweater. I used a small lens aperture and focused on the eyes of the child dressed in the brown sweater to make sure everyone's eyes were in sharp focus.

final comments on family portrait tips

Just remember that patterns, textures and shapes of clothing and background can add business in a portrait. Those elements become even more prominent when the image is black and white and color has been eliminated.

If you are interested in black and white family portraits, here are the Top 5 reasons to use black and white photography.

If you have an interest in more creative family portraits, you will enjoy reading this article on Family Portrait Ideas. There is an opportunity for you to share your creative photography thoughts and your portraits with other readers.

Keep shooting. Keep learning. Keep improving.

Article published by Bruce Lovelace


Bruce is the publisher of this website. He is the author of the book "Improve Your Photography Instantly."  Read more on Bruce on his Bio Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since 1994. Read more about this website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops for kids and adults, and provides one-on-one photography coaching.

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