5 Tips for Taking Better Family Photos

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I fondly think back to the time I picked up my first camera — it was my dad’s Minolta film camera that I borrowed for my high school photography class. Ever since then, I’ve had this passion brewing up inside me to hold onto those precious, fleeting moments with my family and friends.

What I’ve learned is that time passes by so fast that we forget to take pictures of those big or small moments, or if we do remember, they sit unloved in a digital wasteland, waiting to be printed.

Handmade Leather Camera Strap

Handmade Leather Camera Strap

Photo by: Chelsea Costa

Chelsea Costa

One day, you’ll want to look back and see how much your kids have grown. You’ll want to remember the big moments — like graduations, birthday parties and holidays.

Your digital camera deserves to be used to its full potential. Don’t let it waste away on the shelf. Pick it up and learn how to use it. Now is the time as we prepare for those fall family photos. Need some advice? Look to these five pro tips for taking better family photos.

Choose a Color Palette

Color Coordinated Family Photo

Color Coordinated Family Photo

Picture of a young happy beautiful family having a great time during a picnic in the forest.

Photo by: iStock/Geber86


I often see those family beach photos where everyone's wearing white shirts and jeans. Try to steer away from that matchy-matchy look and choose a color scheme instead. I tell my clients that the best way to dress is to look at the color wheel and select complementary colors. Patterns such as plaids are okay as long as you don't go overboard. For instance, the guys could wear plaid and the girls could wear solid colors that complement the plaid. Avoid loud colors and prints, as they won't look natural in the final printed product.

Get the Kids Involved

Happy Kid With Confetti

Happy Kid With Confetti

Portrait of a happy little girl looking up at confetti falling on her

Photo by: iStock/wundervisuals


"One of my favorite tips for making family pictures a little less stressful is to involve your kids in the planning process. This is good for kids preschool age and older. Talk to them about where you will be hanging the pictures and let them pick a spot in their room to put their favorite picture on display. Giving them a sense of ownership in the process goes a long way! It's what I do with my own kids, and it's something I encourage all families to do. Your kids are not only likely to be more cooperative, they will actually be personally invested in all of your family pictures to come!" — Sarah McAffry, owner of Sarah McAffry

Focus on the Whole Family

Large Family Photo in Fall Foilage

Large Family Photo in Fall Foilage

Large family posing for annual photo

Photo by: iStock/pick-uppath


If you have an insanely big family like myself, you'll love this tip. "Instead of using Portrait Mode, switch to Landscape Mode for group shots. It will give you a greater depth of field to get everyone in focus!" — Jamie Weiss, owner of Jamie Weiss Photography

Work With the Sun

Family Beach Photo

Family Beach Photo

A beautiful young family have fun and play on the sands of Venice beach, California on a warm sunny day with the Venice Fishing Pier visible behind them.

Photo by: iStock/RyanJLane


"The key to a nice family picture, just like any other portrait, is the quality of light. If outside, try to shoot on an overcast day or somewhere in the shade. That will allow people to keep their eyes open and will avoid the squinty face so often seen in many a family photo. If the sun's out, try shooting the picture with the sun behind the family, exposing for their faces. That will give them a warm halo glow around them and make for a nice, creamy background. Oh, and make sure they're in focus!" — Shawn Poynter, owner of Shawn Poynter Photography

Get Close

Happy Family Close Together

Happy Family Close Together

Photo by: iStock/monkeybusinessimages


"Have everyone get close to one another and then squeeze in just a little closer. Having each family member touching one another is the key! Shoulder-to-shoulder, holding hands, heads together or leaning on one another, arms draped on shoulders or through arms of a sibling — all of these are great ways to get in close to one another without just putting arms around each other. The key to getting close is to try to get heads close to the same level. This might mean everyone sitting, or perhaps having parents or older children sit on a bench and younger children standing beside them, scooting in closely. With toddlers and babies, having parents stand and holding them so that everyone can lean in closely together often makes a fun, natural photo that parents love to show off." — Sondra Eikenberry, owner of Sondra Kay Photography

Cute + Clever Ways to Display Your Family Photos

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