Pin Me

Family Photography: Preparing for the Photo Shoot

written by: Lori Soard•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/25/2008

Family photographs present a unique challenge. Often, there are family members of varying ages and sizes. With a few tips, family photos can turn out truly fabulous and rival those taken in studios. With the advantage of digital photography, many different angles and shots can be taken.

  • slide 1 of 3


    The family that matches together stays together, or at least they won't clash horribly in the photographs. Although family members don't have to wear all matching clothes, such as everyone in tan slacks and white polo shirts, they should wear colors that are in the same color family or do not clash with one another. Here are a few ideas for color combinations that work well in family photographs:

    • Black and white - This combination works well, because one person can wear black slacks and a white top, while another wears a black top, but no one will clash. This looks especially engaging against a colorful background.
    • All the same colors - Although this may seem overdone, it is a tried and true. You really can have everyone wear black slacks and red tops or a particular shade of green. Just be careful here, as a slight variation in hues can create a clash. If you plan to use a color such as red, blue or green, it is probably best to shop for all outfits at one time to ensure the colors all match perfectly.
    • A variety of colors - Another idea is to let everyone wear what he/she wishes, but ask that certain colors that clash not be used. This typically requires a "dress rehearsal" meeting before the photography session.
    • Neutrals - Neutral colors tend to not clash with one another and are a good choice when you don't have time for a dress rehearsal. Neutrals include white, black, tan and some greys.

    A little preplanning with all family members to make sure everyone knows the color scheme can make a huge difference in how the family photographs turn out.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that you don't want some family members to be dressed very formally while others are dressed informally. It is much better to have everyone in blue jeans than to have everyone in dresses and dress slacks except one lone blue jean wearer. This will throw the balance of the photograph off.

    Better yet, since this is a digital photography session, you may want to allow for several clothes changes to get a nice combination of different looks for your photographs.

  • slide 2 of 3


    No matter how well a family matches, if they are not arranged properly, the photos may not turn out as well as they could. Remember that your goal in photographs is always to create a point of interest and some sort of balance. With this in mind, try arranging family members in the following ways:

    • Taller people should stand in the back and shorter people (such as children) should be in front. If you are photographing a small family of say four people, then Mom and Dad would stand in back and the kids in front. This may not work if you have teenagers, who are often taller than their parents, so use your best judgment.
    • Try to arrange the family in a pattern that creates an oval facing the camera.
  • slide 3 of 3

    Unique Settings

    One of the truly exciting things about taking family photos yourself or having a friend or family member take the photo is the ability to use many different settings. Indoor locations, such as the local zoo, park or a favorite museum work just as well as outdoor locations. Here are a few ideas of settings to use:


    • Family couch
    • In front of fireplace
    • In front of Christmas tree for seasonal photos
    • Piled on living room floor
    • In front of a favorite painting
    • In front of a blank wall


    • Park bench at a local park
    • Nearby playground, perhaps at the local school
    • Ponds and lakes
    • In front of a large tree. If there are low hanging branches, perhaps on the tree as well (but don't forget to do a background check!)
    • In a barn with bales of hay (do you know any farmers?)
    • In the front yard with home in background
    • On your own front porch
    • Local amusement park

Family Photography - Learn How to Take The Best Family Pictures!

With digital photography on the rise, more and more families are choosing to take their own photographs or have a trusted friend or family member take the photos. Whether you are a professional freelance photographer or an amateur, these tips will help you capture those special memories.
  1. Family Photography: Preparing for the Photo Shoot
  2. Tips on How to Take the Best Family Pictures
  3. How to Take Family Photos with Pets