If the idea of a family photoshoot makes you feel nervous, you’re definitely not alone! In fact, even the most seasoned professional photographers will admit to getting the old ‘butterflies in the tummy’ before taking family photos for someone else.
It’s a feeling Click Love Grow Advanced Grad and professional child and family photographer Sue Thorn knows well. However, after several years in the business, Sue knows that a little bit of prep work can go a long way — plus always kicking the session off with a bang.
Planning helps her ensure the shoot will run smoothly from the moment she pulls out her camera until the very last click of the shutter. And all that thinking ahead gives her confidence going in too, which is really important when directing a family photoshoot!
In this article, Sue shares her three top tips and ideas for successful, candid family photos so you too can set yourself up for success!
This might seem like a no brainer — of course, you want to make sure you’re prepared ahead of time and having a checklist of things to do before the shoot is key to being prepared. But one of the top things on that list is…wait for it…write another list. A shot list, in fact.
Type up a list of easy prompts that are guaranteed to get natural smiles and laughter and help subjects connect physically or look at one another.
Your shot list can be as broad or specific as you like. If you’re forgetful, you might need it to be quite precise. But remember, you need to be able to review it at a glance, so don’t write an essay!
Then take a photo of the list with your camera, so it’s the first photo on your card. If you find yourself a bit stuck for family photoshoot ideas mid-shoot, you can quickly flick forward to view it on your camera and remind yourself what you could do next. And your clients will never know as it looks like you’re just checking the photos you’ve just taken!
Breaking the ice at the start helps you connect with the entire family if you don’t know them. Or even if you do, sometimes, even people you know will feel nervous about being photographed!
Starting it off with movement is one of the best, fun ways to do this because it helps everyone relax. It also sets the tone for fun right from the start — which might surprise the kids or dad!
Things I might ask the family to do to kick off a session:
Anything that gets them moving is a fab ice-breaker and creates some fun!
If you’re struggling to find ideas for your family photoshoot, know that you don’t need to move to a different spot for every few shots. In fact, if you do that, you can end up with a disjointed gallery of images.
Instead, get lots of different looks in the same spot by moving yourself around for different angles. This will give you a more cohesive gallery, and it’s a fast way to get more variety.
For example, pose a mother and daughter together, and ask mum to tell her daughter something she loves about her. You know that’s an “aww” moment coming, and even if there’s not, they’ll have a laugh anyway.
During this one interaction, I take shots front on, then move to the side, then above them looking down.
So within 10 seconds, I’ve got at least 3 different shots of my subjects connecting and feeling the love.
Related: 19 Touching Photos Depicting Love
It’s almost guaranteed the next thing that happens is they’ll hug, and if not, I ask them to! Then I do the same again — several angles of a different moment but all in the same spot.
Then I might do the opposite. Ask the daughter “what makes your mum the best mum in the world?” and then do the same thing — capture the moments that follow in different frames and angles.
Then move to a new spot and try some different prompts and poses.
Many thanks to Sue for sharing these great family photoshoot ideas and beautiful, candid images! If you want to see more of Sue’s professional family photography, check her out at Sue Thorn Photography.