Unless you use flash you will need to learn to use natural light. It can sometimes be tricky to use but does provide the most natural looking photographs opposed to using flash. Try and avoid shooting in the midday sun if possible and also look for shaded areas outdoors. These areas can provide cover so you avoid big shadows on faces and people aren’t squinting in the images.
One memorable one had a set of parents with 3 daughters and a son. They had decided to all wear green, but their son was at that obstinate age (gotta love 3 year olds!), and insisted on wearing his favorite orange shirt. The mom was very apologetic, but would rather have smiling portraits than tear stained, sullen glares. I laughed and told her it wasn't a problem. We set him in the middle of a loose circle, and did a few other fun things with them. If you're creative, and by what I see on your site, you are indeed, you'll be fine.
Thank you so much for this post. I’m also a newbie to the world of professional photography, but I’ve been a photographer for most of my life. I would usually simply do shots with friends and their families, or just my own, but I’m actually starting to get paid for it now. I had the privilege 3 days ago to shoot my friends newborn son and her older 2 kids. It was my first newborn shoot, and I was thrilled at how the pics came out, but I felt like I could have done better. Fortunately, I get to try again tomorrow, because Daddy was working last time! Your list and examples are fabulous, and I can’t wait to put then into action!

I’m no lighting expert but have found that my best results have been when I’ve used my flash in a ‘bounce flash’ way – shooting it up into a ceiling so that it’s indirect. This diffuses the light a lot which leaves Xavier less washed out in the shots, and more importantly means he’s not blinded by the light from it (we don’t want to blind our little ones by our photographic obsession – I actually asked a pediatrician about camera flashes and his advice was that it wouldn’t do damage but that for a babies comfort that indirect flash (ie bounced and/or diffused flash) would be advisable. I’m sure different doctors would advise different things but I play it safe with my bounce flash – and avoid flash altogether where possible). It also gives a fairly natural looking shot.
I live in this dichotomous world in my head.  I’ve always been a thrifty DIY gal who loves to shop garage sales. However, I’m also a professional photographer who charges according to my expertise, which aren’t necessarily garage sale prices.  I think that every 2-3 years, investing in a professional photographer is ideal. There are many price ranges out there, and with a little researc, you can find someone in your area that meets your needs. I also know that taking Family Pictures just isn’t in the budget each year for most people, so I’m going to share some tips on How to Take your Own Family Pictures.
Hi there fellow San Diegan and fellow Charger fan ;-), I don’t think there’s anything I can say that hasn’t been said already. Wonderful tips and insight especially for newbies like myself. I can’t even call myself a photographer considering I’m still getting to learn my camera. But I will say that after reading your post, it definitely seems more doable and less scary. Not saying that it will be easy. I’m hoping to get together with a photographer and go on a “ride along” so to speak and maybe get some hands on experience before I venture out on my own. I literally came across your post about an hour ago and I’m looking forward to reading and learning more!

We asked a dozen successful amateur and pro portraitists for tips on better family photos. Our interviews turned up a surprising number of common strategies for succeeding with this classic subject. Here’s how they suggest you capture your family’s personality in pictures. *Keep It Real*Small reminders of daily life are more precious than posed images. The family pictures that will mean the most to you (and others) will be the most candid. Try to capture family members interacting with each other and the world around them. Keep from directing or posing people—it may vex your subjects and reduce your chances for good photos. (Above Photo) Pro Sue Barr chose a Coney Island location for this family portrait. It lent color to the background and coaxed lively expressions from the kids.Sue Barr

K-Rae Images is a luxury MATERNITY, BIRTH, and NEWBORN portrait business located in Frisco, TX. Clients are provided with heirloom quality art designed to last for generations. Parents are treated wonderfully from the initial consultation to the final Reveal, with a closet of maternity gowns to select from as well as newborn props that are sure to create stunning images. Documenting Birth Stories is another way Kristin (photographer) captures the raw and fleeting moments of a new baby’s arrival. Parents can relax knowing that Kristin will take care of their entire portrait experience. K-Rae Images has received the prestigious “Best of Frisco Portrait Studio Award” for 3 consecutive years, and is a Premium Member of INP (International Association of Newborn Photographers) and Best Newborn Photographers. Set up your complimentary Portrait Design Consultation today, and come see why clients continue to choose K-Rae Images for all their portrait needs!

The best photographs are often the ones where everyone is engaged or interacting with each other. Understand that not every picture needs to have everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. If you are engaged as a family and loving on each other, your eyes will be on your family members and your smile with be natural. These are the photographs that you will cherish most because they depict your family connection and your love.
Talk to each other: (Duh, right?) DON'T match. But DO coordinate.  Wearing clothes that are the same level of dressiness is really as matchy as it needs to be. You guys already look like a family. Don't hamper each person's individuality by forcing the matching.  Let's be honest: You guys always look awesome together, you don't need special matching outfits for that. 
You may wonder why we called our studio JaNa? Well, let me clarify. Once up on a time, there was a Jafar and a Nasim (this lovely couple to the left of this picture). After exploring the world with their bikes for 2 years (while promoting peace), they chose to call Vancouver their home and bought their many years of photography experience with them. They are the ones who put the wheels on the business and got it up on its feet. They started their dream job by doing lifestyle photography, on location newborn and maternity photography, ect. A little while later they found the perfect home (studio space) right on the corner of boundary and hasting They decided to expand their all-star team so they could create sweet memories for many more family all across the Vancouver lower mainland. They looked to the sky and wished upon a star for 2 amazing photographers. Then came along Maryam and Jacquie (The lovely ladies to the right) and their happy family was complete. Their professional caring hands and artistic abilities were exactly what they wished for! Together they Rock Maternity, Newborn, Baby, and one-year-old cake smash photography day in and day out. Now the happy JaNa family is living their dream one baby at a time with clients coming to them from all over Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and sometimes even from all over the world. Read more about each of us here…
Dana Menendez Photography is a Carrollton-based photographer, dedicated to capturing organic, heartfelt moments within family interactions. Owner Dana Menendez specializes in newborn, maternity, and family photography, and offers additional services such as wall prints, canvas gallery wraps, and keepsake albums. Her studio is equipped with different hats, wraps, blankets, and props for producing colorful, lively images. Dana Menendez Photography is highly rated on Facebook.
Blankets or fabric to use as backdrops. If you are going to invest in one thing, I’d say go buy a few yards of the cheapest black stretch velvet you can find (use a coupon at Joanns!). Black velvet works really well as a backdrop because it doesn’t show wrinkles and generally shows up as solid black in photos. Otherwise, walk through the house looking for any blankets you might have. Blankets with lots of texture also do a good job hiding wrinkles, like this one:
PORTRAIT PHOTOS: these are the traditional posed photos, shot in studios or outdoors. They are usually posed and have eye contact with the camera. You can find this kind of pictures if you search for family portraits. When it’s in a studio, you can shoot a single (or a few) photos, but it can be a complete essay as well. It is easily identified because they have scenarios or situations specially set up for the photos (traditional newborn photography is an example).
Have your clothing chosen way in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive.  What do your dream family photos look like?  If they are soft and elegant?  Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics…. think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, grays, and slate blues.  Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family?  Choose coordinating colors (but not matchy, matchy) with bold accent colors, such as hues of gray with yellow or bright red accents.  Adding fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.
Not sure where to begin with your wedding planning? Take our Style Quiz and we'll pull together a custom wedding vision and vendors to match, just for you. After that, create a free, personalized wedding website to keep your guests informed (and excited!) about your plans, and a time-saving Guest List Manager to organize your attendees. Even better? You can sync your Guest List Manager and wedding website to update everything at once. 

This comes up a lot, and I’m more than happy to talk through your ideas and offer suggestions. I LOVE coordinating outfits (take a look at my family portraits). My biggest suggestion is coordinate, not necessarily match. Pick 2 or 3 colors that you want to use, keeping in mind the room in your home that you want to display your wall portrait. If you have red walls, do you want to wear greens and have it look too “Christmas-y”? Do you want to wear orange and browns if your family room is teal and grey? I spend a lot of brain power in planning our outfits. But be yourself, and the personality will shine through. *Upon booking your session, I will email you a link with style and color boards with lots of ideas for what to wear, like this:

I live in this dichotomous world in my head.  I’ve always been a thrifty DIY gal who loves to shop garage sales. However, I’m also a professional photographer who charges according to my expertise, which aren’t necessarily garage sale prices.  I think that every 2-3 years, investing in a professional photographer is ideal. There are many price ranges out there, and with a little researc, you can find someone in your area that meets your needs. I also know that taking Family Pictures just isn’t in the budget each year for most people, so I’m going to share some tips on How to Take your Own Family Pictures.


Patterns can add visual interest and texture as well as a good dose of personality. Just make sure that either just one person is in a pattern with the rest of the subjects in simple, more solid color pieces or the patterns are subtle and complementary (for instance, a teeny tiny polka dot tie on a little boy next to his sisters bold color blocked pattern can look very complementary).
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