It’s nice to, at least once per year, to bring your family together for a nice portrait photo – but if you’ve ever tried it you’ll understand that it can be a delicate balance of patience and planning. Since the holidays are coming up when you’re all together, here are a few tips.

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Know your Camera

Half of the frustration of family portrait photography is getting the settings right – so spend some time with your camera before you head out for your photography session! Learn how to set shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc. as well as the timer on your camera – it will save you time and result in happy photos, rather than tired and cranky kids who just want to get it over with!

Pre-Scout a Great Family Portrait Location

What location works best for your family portrait? What you really want to ask yourself is what location will best suit your family? Is it the park, the beach, somewhere fun, or somewhere relaxed? A walk in the park, a picnic, or even just a brick wall can be a great location if it suits your family’s personality. But the important thing is to scout beforehand and know exactly what type of weather and time of day is going to work best for your photos.

There’s also nothing wrong with a nice family-room photo, if getting out of the house isn’t on your agenda : )

Time your Family Portrait Session Wisely

You’ve probably never thought about it, but the time of day that you choose to photograph at can make a huge difference to how your photos turn out. On a cloudy day it’s not quite as important as you’re dealing with even lighting, but on sunny days an overhead sun is going to cause some significant shadows, as well as squinty eyes. Aim for late afternoon or early morning – you’ll get softer light and better colors.

Dress for Success

A coordinated look for your family portrait helps it look more like, well like a portrait, and less like a candid, haphazard photo. Choose light colors combined with white and khaki to create a cohesive image, but don’t aim for a perfect match or it looks a bit cheesy. It’s also a good idea to stay clear of noticeable patterns and shirts with logos on them, as they draw too much attention away from the focus of the image – your family.

Keep it Simple

You don’t need fancy lights, or even really a fancy background to make a great family photo – all you need is your family! Eliminating distractions can help too, which is why it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in the background to ensure that the focus is on your family. A large aperture can help to blur out some of the background details, but if there’s a lot going on you might be better off finding a new location.

Do you have any family portrait tips (or horror stories!) that you would like to share? Please do!

5 tips for better family photography by Jane Goodrich

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