Fun ideas for a family photo shoot

Forget about posing, skip the matching outfits, and ditch the studio. Today, family photos are all action, spontaneity, and being unique.

Family Portrait - Elaine Palladino Photography

Elaine Palladino

Here are several ways photographers say you can embrace these trends in your family’s next photo shoot. Not only will these ideas lead to great looking pictures, they’ll help to create an experience that you and your family will cherish memories of for many years to come.

Get Out and About

Miami based photographer, Elaine Palladino, recommends having your photos taken during a family field trip. “One of my favorite portrait sessions took place at the Miami Seaquarium. I was able to get beautiful shots of the kids interacting with the dolphins, watching the killer whale show, and observing the aquarium. Places like this are one big photo opportunity,” she explains.

Additional places Palladino suggests visiting for a photo shoot include an arcade, bowling alley, or a fair. “These places lend themselves to fun and laughter,” she notes.

Invite the Photographer Into Your Home

If an outing sounds a little too hectic for what you have in mind for your family’s photo session, consider staying home and having your photos taken in the space that’s most comfortable and familiar to you all.

“The best family portraits don’t venture far from home,” says Palladino. “Whether the portrait is in the backyard where you like to play catch or the big bed where the family watches movies, you are at your most natural when you are doing the things that reflect you as a family.”

Embrace the Great Outdoors

Skip the studio! “Try a park, artsy area of town, a railroad track—anything to get out of there,” says Evan Godwin, head photographer for Purus Weddings. “Want to bring an old couch and place it in the middle of a wooded area for your photos? Do it! Take advantage of the flexibility of today’s photographers.”

According to Godwin, there are a number of reasons why outdoor photo sessions are beneficial to both the family and the photographer. “Natural light is much more flattering for everyone’s skin and generally produces a better overall feel. It also facilitates more creativity for the photographer, and families won’t feel so cooped up.”

Pose with a Prop or Two

Props can add a playful element to photos, but it’s best to limit how many you and your family use. “Too many props are overwhelming,” explains Peggy Farren, of Avant-Garde Images, Inc.

Rather than using a handful of props, which can make a photo look too busy, pick one or two that make a statement or tie into your photo session’s theme.

Because Farren shoots many of her portraits on the beach, she often uses beach balls, Adirondack chairs, and sea shells as props. She’s also used bubble machines, sparklers, and colorful umbrellas. “Many people on vacation can’t reschedule, so we have to find creative ways to overcome the weather,” she explains.

Play with Water

Most kids relish any opportunity they can get to splash around in water, so beaches, lakes, and pools are a great place to capture your family’s portrait. For such photo sessions, Farren suggests laying right down in the water or, if your family is particularly creative, going completely under it!

Dress Like It’s Any Other Day

If you’re thinking about having each member of your family dress alike for the photo session, you may change your mind after considering Palladino’s advice:

“You don’t normally wear the same outfits, so why start now? Just like you want your pictures to be unique, let your outfits reflect your individual styles,” she advises. “Want to coordinate colors? Then find an outfit that reflects each family member’s style in the chosen color. Kids tend to cooperate more when they have a hand in what they are wearing.”


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