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 🙂

Maternity Photo-Shoot Tips and Ideas

As a photographer, having a maternity photo-shoot set up of a client can be a great opportunity to take some creative and fun pictures for your own portfolio.   However, much like some other types of photo-shoots, it can be difficult to deal with a client who is pregnant and about to give birth.   I have had the pleasure to photograph pregnant friends and even the most intimate and precious moment of the actual birth.

As the photographer, you must always keep in mind the safety and comfortableness of your subject, the mommy to be and her baby.   It might be a great opportunity for you to get some amazing pregnancy shots for your portfolio, but you must always keep your client’s needs in mind.   Here are some great tips for both the mommy to be and the photographer, as well as some cool photo ideas.

Bump

Bump

Preparations For the Mommy

– The Spa Treatment: Mommies need to be relaxed and worriless the day of their photo-shoot. Having their photos taken, may bring up emotions of how much weight they have gained, and feel like they don’t look their best. Mommies also have a hard time reaching lower parts of their bodies, because of the shape of their bellies, so they couldn’t be able to paint their own toenails, for example.   A good idea is to have a full day spa treatment the day before or a couple of hours before the photo-shoot.   That way the mommy to be can have her hair done, manicure and pedicure, everything waxed, and even professional makeup.   By the time the camera turns on, the mommy-to-be won’t have to worry or feel self-conscious about her nails, hair or makeup.
– Moisturize: Mommies should prepare their skin for the photo-shoot by moisturizing with lotion the most troublesome areas like knuckles, elbows and knees.
– Skin Marks: The day of the photo-shoot, mommies should refrain from wearing any tight clothing or underwear that would have elastic bands that could leave marks on the skin.   This includes socks, because they will leave marks.
– Tannin: Some mommies have the luck to have gorgeous sun-kissed skin.   For those who feel self-conscious about their skin being too pale, there is an option.   Of course I am not recommending that you sunbathe all day before the photo-shoot.   You are pregnant! And the most important thing is the safety of your baby.   However, you can consult your doctor on the safety of spray-tans.   I have read that home spray tans have been ruled completely safe for pregnancy, but I would still research and ask your doctor.   You can also make sure you read the product’s label before you use it to be sure.   There are also some other at-home tanning products, which seem less harmful, which include some tanning wipes.   It is also a good idea not to try a new product the day of the photo-shoot, just in case it doesn’t work just right.   Ask your doctor, and make sure to try it a couple of weeks before the photo-shoot.
– Daddy: If the daddy will be included in the photo-shoot, lets remind him to shave and prep as well.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Props

Odds are that most of the props needed for the maternity shots, the mommy-to-be already has.   Ask her to bring them to the photo-shoot, but if you think you will have more maternity shots in the feature, it would be a good idea to invest in some of these props.   For example, you can get baby blocks to spell out “baby”, “boy”, “girl”, or even the name of the baby.   Get a measuring tape, preferably pink for girl, and blue for boy.   Get the mommy to bring some baby booties or shoes.   Get a large picture frame, just the frame with nothing on the inside, either gold, black or silver would do.   Get a mirror.   Ask the parents to bring something special they have purchased or inherited for the baby, like a special toy that means something to them, they favorite sports team logo, a blanket, etc.   Buy the mommy-to-be’s favorite flowers.   Solid colored blankets are good to have, especially plush ones, so the mommy can sit on and not have to get her outfit dirty.   Outfits that they have already bought for the baby, the sonogram picture of the baby, a scale, blue or pink ribbons, and a label that reads “Do not open until___” (Baby’s due date).   Of course the mommy to be can bring her hubby, her other children, and even her pets to the photo-shoot.
Always think of the mommy’s comfort, and remember pregnant woman can be bothered by the weather.   Be prepared and bring an umbrella if the shoot is outdoors to shield her from the sun.   A little hand-held fan can go a long way.   If the weather is cold, then bring a sweater or two.   Paper towels would be needed if it is hot outside to wipe off any sweat and fix makeup, extra makeup would be good, too.   Mommies also get hungry most of the time, so cold drinks and healthy snacks are good to keep handy, and keep her in a good mood.   An iPod with some relaxing music can put our mommy-to-be in a relaxed mood.   It is also a good idea to have the mommy-to-be search the internet for maternity pictures and have her send you the ones that she likes.   Then on the day of the photo-shoot print them out and bring them with you for inspiration.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Clothing

For outdoor photo-shoots is best to stay away from WHITE outfits.   Suggest that the mommy-to-be wear clean and ironed outfits that are mostly solid colors, and nothing that is too big on her.   The idea is to accentuate the belly; so buttoned shirts are good, because buttons can be opened if she wishes to take photos of her bare belly.   Tops that completely reveal the belly are good too, so something that would be like a cardigan covering only the breasts and arms could be a good option.   Wraps and scarves can be used as a top without covering the belly as well.   If the hubby, siblings and other family members will be joining the mommy in the photo-shoot, their clothes should be color coordinated as well.   Something like a solid top (blue, black, green, etc.), and jeans or khakis is always a good combination.   Long shirts and dresses that wrap the belly are a good option for mommies who don’t wish to bear too much skin.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Location, Location, Location

Maternity photo-shoots could be very private in the client’s home.   The privacy can allow for the mommy-to-be to feel more comfortable showing off her baby bump.   Pictures can be taken inside the baby’s room, in front of a well-lit window, a solid color wall or even in bed.   In this case, is good to have the client prep the house so that everything is in order and the baby’s room is ready and clean.   Taking it outside can be fun too.   A park, a botanical garden, or the beaches are great places to start.   Local historical buildings and areas are a good too.   Be sure to discuss this with the client and decide on locations before you head out.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Common Shots

Some mommies like the cliché, more traditional pictures; you know the ones everyone gets. Like the silhouetted belly, the hand-hearts over the belly, the baby blocks spelling the name or gender of the baby, the due date tag with the ribbon, the ribbon by itself, the measuring tape, the daddy kissing the belly, the daddy listening to the belly, the sonogram picture, the baby outfit on top of the belly, the booties on top of the belly.   Even though, you as a photographer wish to be different, you shouldn’t limit your clients by telling them to stay away from cliché shots.   If your client wants the common and overused shots, then provide them.   Afterwards, you can suggest some more unusual shots for them and for your portfolio.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Unusual Shots

To spice things up in a maternity photo-shoot, you can’t just read a list of unusual shots on the Internet, because that would mean that those photos have already been done, and most likely other people are reading those lists too.   Go with your instinct and take photos of anything that seems interesting and different.   Try zooming in and not using your flash, try different views, your view, mommy’s view, dad’s view, the pet’s view, anything you can think of.   It may not work, but you may end up with something amazing.   You just have to take a chance.   You can try to modify some of the already common ideas.   Like instead of using baby blocks to spell the baby’s name or gender, you can write it on the sand and then position mommy and daddy’s feet on top.   You can play with silhouettes and shadows, reflections on the mirror or the water, change the focus, take the shot from outside or inside an odd spot, like from a window looking in or out.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

***Special Thanks to Jennifer for allowing me to share images of her pregnancy on this post 🙂

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