Tips for Shooting Family Photography

Family photography is a wonderful way to preserve memories and create lasting keepsakes. For those just starting out, here are some important tips to help you shoot natural family photos with minimal stress and maximum result that your clients can cherish for years to come. 

Choosing your Setting

For controlled conditions and to maximise lighting and image quality, a studio setting is often best for family photography. It also means your images will often be more consistent and means you can replicate the same result for different families without having to worry about changeable weather conditions and makes for an easier shoot in winter. Some families may prefer a white background shoot that makes for easy printing and wall decorations at home. 

However this can depend on the family! If it helps, allow them to choose a location that is meaningful to the family or reflects their personality. This can be a park or forest if they'd like to bring family pets perhaps, or can be a beach if it's warm. This can help the family feel more natural and relaxed, and can make for more colourful images as well that they can show off at home. Consider the time of day for the best lighting conditions, such as the golden hour before sunset which makes for very flattering and pretty images.

See similar: Baby and Maternity Photography Kits

Capturing Natural Posing 

When it comes to posing for family photos, it's essential to create a natural and relaxed atmosphere, unless you're aiming for a very formal image (for formal images, a traditional age based seating plan might be best, with elder members of family such as parents or grandparents at the back, with the youngest kids at the front). For it to feel natural and bring out each family member's personalities, encourage the family to interact with each other, whether it's through a hug, a laugh, or a playful gesture.

You can also lighten the mood and encourage the family to let their guard down by getting to know them before shooting and cracking a few jokes to put them at ease. The more comfortable they are, the more they will show their true selves!

This will help capture genuine emotions and expressions. Candid shots often capture the true essence of a family and result in more authentic photos that families can look back on with fondness. 

You can also suggest to families to plan their outfits ahead of time so that the images look coherent and match together, and so that no colour clash with some people standing out more than others. Discuss your background or setting options ahead of time too so that you can help curate a full shoot story and style. 

Pay Attention to Composition

Consider the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing to create visually appealing compositions. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to add interest to your photos.

See similar: Tips for Making Maternity Shoots Fun & Memorable

It's also best to avoid cluttered backgrounds or distracting elements that take away from the main focus of the family. Keep the focus on the family members and their interactions and consider the setting in which you're shooting. If you're on location, can you find a quiet area such as a path surrounded with trees which can help frame the shot and create leading lines? Or can you find something to draw the eye a little to the background that can help to provide some depth and texture against plain sky? 

For Christmas themed family images, or Christmas minis for the kids, adding themed props can be a great addition and the colours can aid the theme of the image. Fairy lights mounted in the back of the frame can also be a great way to add some depth with bokeh, and can add a lovely cosy warmth to the image. 

Photography Lighting

Lighting is crucial in photography, especially for family portraits. If shooting in a studio environment, natural light can be a great addition to your image, though can be unreliable and inconsistent depending on the weather. However, you can replicate natural light with lighting equipment with very little fuss.

As a general rule, family photography tends to be quite light and airy, so harsh dramatic shadows are best avoided. To help produce this effect, shoot-through umbrellas or softboxes with diffusion will be very useful and will help to soften and spread the light further. It's also important to remember that bigger modifiers = a wider spread of light. White modifiers, or softboxes with white interiors may also help to provide a bright, slightly warmer quality of light compared to a silver modifier. 

If you shoot exclusively in the studio, mains powered studio lights can be a very affordable option and a multi-light setup will give you all the tools you need for quality lighting. Check out some of our mains powered lighting kits:

SK300 II Studio Flash Twin Umbrella Kit  SK400II-V Dual Studio Flash Kit LUMI200 Twin Umbrella Kit
2x 300w mains flashes
Translucent shoot-through umbrellas
Roller case included 
    2x 400w mains flashes
    1x Silver Umbrella, 1x White Umbrella and 1x Softbox
    Trigger included
      400w combined
      Mains Powered Flash
      Translucent shoot-through umbrellas included


        If shooting on location, you generally have to work with the natural light provided, however if you're finding it inconsistent or you're having trouble properly exposing your shot, some basic speedlite flashes can go very far to fix this and give you control over the lighting on your clients. A single speedlite on your camera or on a separate stand can light your family properly against a bright sky, and help to diffuse and even out the lighting on their faces. 

        LI-ION580 II Speedlite Shoot-Through Umbrella Kit Li-ION580II Speedlite with Speedlite Accessory Kit  GIO1 Speedlite Shoot-Through Umbrella Kit

         Rectangular-head speedlite

        Comes with Umbrella and Stand

        Trigger required separately 

         Speedlite with mini AK-R1 modifier kit 

        Perfect for mounting straight to a camera

        No trigger needed

        Flattering round-head speedlite

        Comes with Umbrella and Stand

        Trigger required separately 


        Avoid harsh midday sun and opt for early morning or evening light for softer, diffused golden light for flattering results, or you can also diffuse natural lighting with flags and diffusion sheets to reduce harsh shadows, though this can add more bulk to your location shooting kit. 


        Edit with Care

        Use editing software to enhance your photos, but avoid over-editing! Aim for a natural look that enhances the beauty of the moment with minimal major changes and a complimentary filter/grade.


        By following these tips, you can create stunning family photos that capture the love, joy, and connection within the family. Remember to have fun and be creative, and you'll be sure to create memorable images that will be treasured for generations! Still looking for some more advice on picking lighting for family photography? Get in touch with our team at for more help.

        Shop now, pay later with Klarna at EssentialPhoto.

        Related Products