How To Photograph Your Own Family Portraits

Looking to save some money this fall by taking your own family photographs for Thanksgiving or Christmas cards?  I think I can help.

We all know that there’s nothing like having a pro photographer take your family portraits.  They are absolutely worth the investment.  A pro photographer will usually have a collection of work that you can see, to get a taste for their style.  And while we all would love to have our portraits done by a professional, for many of us its simply not feasible.

While taking photos of your family on your own isn’t ideal, we think it can actually be done.  You shouldn’t miss out on capturing your family’s growth because you can’t afford portraits.

Here are a couple of tips that will be useful to you so that your 2018 Family Photos are picture perfect!

Time Of Day

This is the absolute most important piece of advice.  You’ll want to photograph your family an hour before sunset.  Check your local sunset time, and plan in advance to get your family on location so you have plenty of time to get your photograph.  Whatever you do, when you position your family, make sure the sun is shining on the faces of your family or slightly off to the side.

Posing Your Family

Pinterest will be your best friend.  Create a board, and pin a few poses for your family.  It’s going to be difficult to get a candid shot with you in the frame.  Again, planning is everything, so be ready with your favorite pose.  In addition, show the pose to your family so you can communicate your expectations to them clearly.

Camera Settings

First things first, make sure you invest in a tripod.  It will save you a world of headaches from trying to find a fence post, picnic table, or other flat surface.  It will also give you a lot more creative freedom and ability to move around.  You can pick up an inexpensive tripod like this one.

Next, once you’re set up, you’ll want to put your camera on Aperture priority.  If you have a Nikon, on the top of your camera there will be an ‘A’.  Set it there.  If you have a Canon, you’ll be looking for Av on the top.   Next, you’ll want to change your fstop to 5.6.  This means you’ll rotate the wheel until one of the numbers turns to 5.6.  Basically what you are doing is manually setting your Aperture to 5.6 and allowing the camera to adjust everything else.

Finally, make sure you are focusing on your family, and set your camera to the 10 second time delay.  Every camera is different, so you may want to google how to do this on your particular camera brand.

In Closing:

Well there you have it!  I hope these tips are helpful for you and that your family portrait turns out great!  There’s obviously no comparison between having a professional take your family portrait, but if you’re crunched on time and resources, this is a way to still capture your family and cherish the season.  Good luck!

If you use these tips and photograph your family, I’d love to see it!  Tag me on Facebook or Instagram, and show me your beautiful family!


Photographer, Business Owner, Nature Addict, Coffee Obsessed, Pizza is my kryptonite.

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