5 Tips for Dynamic Family Portraits

Shooting whole families can be a hassle: the kids are bored, the babies crying, the parents anxious, the grandparents falling asleep. Well, Michelle Ford is here to help with five quick tips for planning your next family shoot that can keep the process as quick and fun as possible:

Five Quick Tips for Family Portraits

  1. Create levels. Bring a stool or chair to transform boring old all-in-a-row shots into dynamically staggered shots for more depth and visual interest.
  2. Bring props. Kids are more comfortable around their toys, and they can become part of the photo’s story. Invite the parents to bring a book, blanket, or doll if they think their child will react better with it, and aim for naturalism.
  3. Consider grandparents. Find out in advance of the shoot how easy it is for them to move around. Be considerate of their limitations. If it’s an issue, sit them down first—you might want to bring a stool.
  4. Consider infants. If the little one can’t stand on her own, plan who’s going to hold her before the camera starts shooting. Make the child an anchor to capture the right moment–position everyone else around the person holding the baby.
  5. Monitor your time. Michelle recommends nothing over 45 minutes to an hour for young children. The first five minutes should be a basic warm-up, then focus on safety shots for 10 or 15 minutes, and after that you should have fun. Don’t wear your subjects out—end on a high note.



The goal here is to take different shots every time you meet a new family. Don’t just swap out one family for another and take the same shots again and again. Work with them individually and find out what works: the result is more fun, more unique, and you’re more likely to get noticed by new clients.

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