Pointers in Taking Your Own Family Photos


While in the midst of capturing beautiful fall photos for my clients I was able to find time to capture some photos of my own family.  Let me say, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  As I navigated the process, I learned a few key pointers for a successful venture in taking your own family’s photos.  Now I know this advice may seem counter intuitive to my own business, but I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to have their family’s story captured and not everyone out there can afford a professional photographer.

1.  Let Your Children Pick Their Own Outfit  

Many photographers will offer the suggestion that you should let Mom chose her clothing first and the rest of the family should dress around her.  I have always suggested that you dress the children first.  In the case of small children, you can certainly give them a couple of choices of outfits otherwise you will end up with polka dots and stripes!   In the case of my daughters, I simply told them they had to coordinate their clothing and they should focus on two main colours.  They decided upon royal blue and white.  After sharing their clothing choices with me I was easily able to coordinate both my husband and myself to match.  I loved that I was able to bring in the third defining colour of teal.  When choosing colour always think in threes.  Two main colours and then a coordinating colour to add that extra pop.  They way I see it:  Happy Kids = Easier Photo Shoot.  If you are already fighting with your children over what to wear, the rest of the experience will most likely prove frustrating as well.

sisters photo

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father and daughter photos

2.  Use a tripod and Self-Timer or Remote

Always keep your camera safe.  Don’t be tempted to balance your camera on the surface of a rock or bench.  Always use a tripod (or even beanbag) for stability and safety.  In the case of our photos, I used my tripod and the self-timer feature on my camera.  The photos were taken just off of a public pathway close to a river.  I was able to set my equipment up right on the pathway so I knew it was safe and steady.  I positioned my family, leaving a spot for myself and then did the self-timer dash to get into the photo in time.  It was not glamorous clambering through the silt, but it did the trick.  Next year though, I’m purchasing a remote and going that route.  It will save me from filling my shoes with silt, leaves and dirt!

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3.  Allow your Children the Opportunity to be Themselves

All that I asked of my family was that I get at least one nice photo for the Christmas card.  We took care of that first and then the pressure was off.  I was then able to snap some fantastic photos of my husband and girls.  Some are formal; you need those for the grandparents, plus they look nice framed on the wall.  Interspersed amongst these ‘smile nice’ photos I allowed my girls to be silly and have the photos taken that THEY wanted.  This goes back to the Happy Kids motto.  By allowing them to be silly they were more receptive to the ‘smile nice’ shots.  Plus the candid images are usually the ones that are my client’s favourites.  So if that meant the thirteen year old got to wear her tiara then so be it.  All too soon they will grow into adults and I know I will look back upon these silly photos will a smile and tear in my eye.

funny family photos

Moustache Sisters!

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Little Model Pose

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We just HAD to take one with the tiara!

4.  Be Willing to Give Up the Camera

This is often the area that I struggle with, but it is important to remember that you are part of your family’s story as well.  Throw the settings on auto and let them snap away.

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I love this photo my husband took of me

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Sharing a laugh with my girls

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My daughter caught this image of my husband and I – LOVE IT!

Bottom line, if you have the money hire a professional photographer; do it!  They have the equipment, expertise and experience to best capture your family’s story.  If not though, I hope these tips will help you.

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13 thoughts on “Pointers in Taking Your Own Family Photos

  1. Wow, these portraits are so very beautiful Sherene ! I love the poses, the location, the light is wonderful, I love each one of these photos. Your daughters are beautiful, I just love the photo “moustache sisters” and “Little model pose”. And how beautiful is the photo of you and your husband !
    This was a very interesting post and good advices. I have read somewhere that we shouldn’t use a 50mm lens when doing portraits and I don’t know why. That’s what I used when I did a session with an acquaintance of mine this past September. Do you know the reason why we shouldn’t use this lens ?

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