Large Family Photo Shoot (Tips & Ideas)

One of the most difficult photo shoots are the ones where you have a large group of people, like a large family photo shoot.   As the photographer, not only do you have to be assertive and control everyone involved, but you also have to make sure everyone looks great in one single shot.   Unless you plan to spend hours in Photoshop and select everyone’s perfect shot and compile it into one.
The first time I had to take a large family photo shoot, I was a bit nervous at first, but I realized the best way to deal with that was to have fun.   Have fun with the family.   I had to take a photo shoot of a family of 6 adults and 3 kids, for a total of 9 people.   Adults are easy, but mixing in the children into the large family photos it’s a bit tricky.   You have to get them to look at you, all of them, at the same time.   The adults will try to help you when it comes to making the children look at the camera and smile, but by doing that THEY will end up being the ones not looking at the camera.  It is tougher with younger children, but if I could do it, so can you!

So here are a couple of tips and ideas for your own family photo shoot, whether you are the photographer or the family.

Color Coordinated Clothing

Color Coordinated Clothing

Clothing

The most important tip I always give my photography clients before I photograph them is to color coordinate their outfits.   The second tip, is don’t dress in white! Having a color-coordinated family looks cute, and also makes everyone in the photo look like they belong together, as a cohesive family unit.   But you don’t have to look boring or too similar.   You can create a cohesive look by deciding a color scheme first.   You can base your color scheme on the seasons, the location of the photo shoot, the family’s favorite sports team, fashion trends, or even a family inside joke.   Usually casual styles are better, and jeans are a favorite so everyone is comfortable.   However, you can always go more formal for some Holiday photos or studio shots that will probably end up on your Family Holiday Greeting Cards.   Just make sure you all follow the same style, whether it is casual or formal.   You don’t all have to wear jeans and a green shirt.   If your color scheme is green and blue, then girls can wear green skirts and a blue shirt, and guys can wear jeans and a green shirt.   Also play with layers, a sweater over a shirt, a scarf, etc.   Matching everyone’s outfit doesn’t mean the same shirt and pants for everyone, but the same colors over all, in different pieces of clothing.   Different shades of the same color are good too.   For these large groups it’s good to stay away from too much patterns.   It is best to select pieces that are solid colors and that don’t have distinctive words, like the brand’s logo on them.   Remember that your shoes will show in some pictures, so make sure they match your outfit!

Different Levels

Different Levels

Posing

Great family photos usually feel like everyone in the picture loves each other and are happy.   But we all know that is usually not the case in real life.   Setting up the family in a pose to create the “Perfect Family” photo might be difficult.   Different heights, age, hair color, couples, kids, and clothing can help you decide how to place each person in the picture.   The tallest people behind the shortest people, the kids in the middle, the oldest in the middle, each couple on a different area.   All of these are good possibilities, but a bit overdone.   Think outside the box, group people in two’s or three’s and compose the larger group with those smaller groups, and even separate each group in a different level, one group behind another, or on a step above or sitting down below.   However, make sure to “angle” everyone, meaning don’t line everyone up one next to another with their shoulders touching each other’s.   Make sure they stand at an angle so their shoulders overlap instead.   Also, make sure they don’t tilt their heads towards the person next to them; people tend to do that when taking pictures.   You can also split the group up and take a moment to take some shots of each individual section of the family, like only the kids, or only the grandparents, or only the couples.   Also remember to take Candid photos.   While the family is repositioning, moving to another location, taking a break, keep taking pictures and catch them when they are not looking.

Beware of Funny Faces :)

Beware of Funny Faces :)

Taking the photos

Make sure you adjust all your camera settings before you begin shooting.   If you are not sure about a certain pose, or background, test it with the adults first, and then include the kids when you are ready, so they don’t get restless while you are taking the shots.   Make sure all the subjects are lit in the same manner, so that you don’t have some people in the shade and others in the sun.   Focus on the person in the middle, or right next to it.   Make sure you continue shooting even if everyone is moving or changing places, you might miss out on something fun.   However, make sure you continue to check your photos after you move on to a different pose or location, and check to make sure no one blinked or made funny faces.

Keep Shooting, Even When No One Is Posing!

Keep Shooting, Even When No One Is Posing!

More Tips

- Always check the weather!!!
- You might need some shade for the children while they wait, so bring an umbrella.
- Bring a toy or something that usually catches the kids’ attention, so you can get them to look at the camera.
- Ask your clients to think of different poses that they would like and to practice them. Also, if they have a sample of something they want, they should give it to you. Like if they want a particular pose they’ve seen somewhere else, or if they want a particular toy or thing in the picture.
- Let your clients know that if you keep shooting pics when they are not really posing, not to be caught off-guard, sometimes the best pics are the ones where they are not posing.

Unexpected Angles & Poses

Unexpected Angles & Poses

*Special thank you to the beautiful Hunt Family for allowing me to share their large family photo-shoot with the world :)

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About mwolowicz
Venezuelan born newly-minted US Citizen. Graphic Designer & Photographer. I love art, music, good food, traveling, talking, dancing, cooking and board games. I I have self-diagnosed OCPD. I am a geek.

2 Responses to Large Family Photo Shoot (Tips & Ideas)

  1. Cassandra Frasure says:

    Do you have any tips on what type of camera to use?

  2. mwolowicz says:

    Cassandra,

    I think that one should buy a camera after researching for many hours and understanding what one will be using it for. Initially I had shot with an Olympus E-300, which I just occasionally borrowed from a friend, but that was when I knew very little about photography, and found it to be confusing and hard to figure out. Then, in class we used old Nikon E5400, which I though wasn’t really advanced, because they were old cameras they had in there and I was already playing with the Olympus, which I thought was more advanced. Later, while working as a Graphic Designer I got cross-trained into the photography side of the company and they handed me a Nikon D200, which I… of course… fell in love with.

    I wanted to purchase my first SLR after being able to use that one at work, but a Nikon D200 (I thought) was way too good for me, because I was only a beginner in Photography. I got an incredible deal (because I got Nikon Employee Discount) for a Nikon D80 (I got a deal for 3 lenses and a flash, too). I think for me, that was a great way to start, and perhaps when I “graduate” to Intermediate or Advanced, I will reward myself with a newer model with better options. But all the photos you see here were taken with my Nikon D80. And I love it.

    Check out some camera reviews online to make an informed choice when it comes to purchasing a camera that is right for you. This one works for me, but every photographer is different, and the types of photos they want to take are different. It all depends on what you want to shoot.

    A good website to check out is:
    http://www.dpreview.com/

    Hope it helps!

    MW

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