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9 Tips for Amazing Family Photos

I am a mom of two, as well as a family, newborn and maternity photographer! When I got pregnant with my first son I knew I wanted to get amazing pictures of him as he grew up. So we immediately went out and bought a nice camera.

Image of a Dad with a daughter
All photos in this article courtesy of Holly Marie Photography

However, as I learned more and more about photography I realized that some of my favorite pictures of them were taken with my middle of the road Android phone that’s known for its horrid camera quality. While an expensive camera is helpful in getting good images, there is nothing stopping you from taking absolutely stunning pictures of your family with your smartphone or any other camera!

1. Take the Picture Outside

You want to be outside, in full coverage shade, facing towards the sun, not directly under a green tree.

Image of a boy

The easiest way to get a great picture, is great lighting. So taking your picture outside on a nice cloudy day will allow you to take pictures anywhere with everyone looking natural. However, if it’s not cloudy it’s not as simple as just standing outside. If you are in direct harsh sunlight everyone will be squinting, and your photo will likely have extra bright sunspots and the picture will probably be overexposed.

To avoid this it is best to position your family in the shade. You are looking for full coverage shade that doesn’t have sun still getting through. Trees are an obvious good choice but you need to make sure you aren’t directly under the green since the light will bounce off of the tree and give your skin a subtle but unnatural green tone.

2. Pick the Right Day

Choose a fall or spring day when the temperature is pleasant, and nature is vibrant.

Image of a family

Even the best photographer will have a hard time getting a good picture on a cold day in front of dead trees. If the weather is warm and there is a slight breeze everyone in your family will be more comfortable and look better in pictures. You will also have a lot more time to get the best shot because you won’t be rushing to get it over with. You also want to avoid doing it in the middle of summer because people will start to sweat. Yuck.

3. Choose the Right Background

Pick a colorful background that isn’t obtrusively busy.

Image of a dad with a son

The best pictures are the ones where the background frames the subject well and adds color, but isn’t so interesting that it detracts from the people in the photo. You also want to avoid silly looking backgrounds where trees are coming out of people’s heads or a bright orange construction cone is in your shot.

4. Outfits

Coordinate your families outfits so that they don’t clash with each other, make them seasonally appropriate, and try to avoid neon and pick light or neutral colors.

Image of a family

Choosing what to wear for a photo shoot can be really intimidating. You have to find something that flatters you and your family as well as having the colors not clash. When you are choosing what to wear it is good to avoid neon colors because the light can bounce off of them and effect your skin tones.

My go-to color recommendations are light and neutral colors like grey, light blue, white and light pink. However in the fall browns and red’s work nicely because the entire tone of the image is colored by the leaves anyway. One tip I always give my clients when picking an outfit is to go to google images and type in the season and then family photos and then you can find a few pictures to base your outfits off of.

5. Posing

Keep your family close together at similar eye levels or do a cutesy creative pose.

Image of a family

There are so many great ways to pose your family that will all look amazing! It’s good to have a few ideas in mind before you do a shoot. I always look through my past photos and screenshot a few poses so that I can show my families what I would like to do instead of having to describe it for them. My favorite shots are the ones where the whole family is snuggled up and roughly the same eye level. I also love pictures where the kids are sitting together and the parents are back in the distance.

6. Angles are Everything!

Take the picture at eye level or slightly above, directly in front of your subject.

Image of a girl

Taking a picture from the right angle is so important. Even if you do every other step correctly if you take a picture up somebody’s nose close to their double chin it is going to look terrible. When you are taking the picture do several test shots from different heights and angles to see which ones look best. I like taking my pictures at eye level (or slightly) above and directly in front of my subject.

7. Make the Photo Shoot fun!

Do playful poses first to lighten the mood.

Image of a boy

If you have small children starting off your photo session on the fun foot is crucial for success. My favorite go-to fun poses are holding mom and dad’s hand while swinging and having mom or dad toss the child lightly into the air. Both make for relaxed intimate pictures and warm the child up to whoever is taking the pictures.

During the more posed part of the photo session, you can also let your child hold something they find interesting like a rock, acorn or leaf. It may keep them calm and then you can also get some candid moments of them sharing with you excitedly.

8. Take a lot of Pictures

Sometimes quantity is the best way to ensure good quality!

Image of a boy

During my first several professional sessions I used to take over a thousand pictures in just an hour. Most of the pictures weren’t very good however I would always pull off at least 20 great ones. The more pictures you take the more good options you’ll have. It is important to keep switching up locations and poses though because you probably don’t need more than one good picture per spot.

9. Steady Your Phone

Brace your arms against something stable to avoid blur.

Image of a baby boy

This last step is so incredibly important and very often overlooked. You need to keep your phone STILL as a dead log in order to avoid blurry phone photos. First, you should prop your arms up against your body by locking your elbows in. Then you should make sure you have stable footing and make sure you aren’t swaying at all.

Lastly, make sure your finger is hovering over the take photo button and press it gently doing your best not to move the camera even a tiny bit. It will help to pause a moment between taking multiple pictures so that the repeated pressing doesn’t jostle your phone. It will also allow your phone’s camera to catch up if it is really slow at processing the image.


I hope that these few simple tips will help you take better pictures of your family and your kids! I absolutely love pictures because they capture beautiful memories and the stage of life you are in so that you can cherish it forever. Happy shooting!


  1. Newborn Photographer Carmel Indiana, www.hollymarie-photography.com

Holly Harris    

I'm a mom of 3 little boys with one on the way, an infant photographer, an avid writer and a dedicated researcher of all things baby.

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