Taking Your Own Family Pictures

I started taking my own family pictures about eight years ago, and to be honest, the first time I tried, it was kind of a disaster. I was in my first year of college, and Pinterest had just launched. I had a brother who was about to head out on a mission, so we wanted to take pictures before he left. I spent HOURS looking for poses, and thinking about locations we could use. I was so excited, but when the day arrived, in true Murphy fashion, it was windy and rainy, some of my siblings were feeling ill, and others didn’t want to take pictures, soooo the resulting images were sad to say the least. But from these ashes, I have some easy tips to help make taking your own family pictures simpler, and more enjoyable for everyone.

Choose a Color Palette

Want to look color coordinated, but not “matchy-matchy”? One thing that helps our large family look great in our pictures is my sisters take turns picking the color palette. A good rule of thumb is pick about 3 main colors, and add any neutrals you would like. Pinterest is great for finding palettes, most of which will even give you sample outfit ideas. Pantone.com is another great resource! It shows you what colors will be all over the stores that year. (So shopping for outfits becomes WAY easier).

Use a Remote

Camera timers are great, but especially when you have a large family like I do (seven kids, spouses and kids…) a remote is a life saver. Having your camera set on a tripod, and the remote in your hand lets you get posed, and not get caught running back and forth (minus checking the shot).

I didn’t do a great job of hiding the remote in this one… Can you spot it?

Start with the Big Group First

This rings especially true when you are working with little kids. If I am working with my extended family, I will work with a few small groups until everyone arrives, and then get to work. (The other small groups I can do after.) Doing the large group first makes sure I get the shots I want, and that everyone is fresher, and more focused. Then I work from largest to smallest. That allows us to make sure that we get all the shots we wanted (large group, individual families, individuals of the kids, couples, etc.) without the kids getting frustrated or worn out.


Like anything in photography, lighting is so important! Choosing a time when the light will be better automatically start your pictures off on a better foot. For indoor pictures, setting up next to an open window will give you that beautiful soft light. Planning on an outdoor session, aim for earlier in the morning, or in the evening about an hour before sunset.

Have Fun!

This is the most important step! Pictures can be stressful for some people, but the more fun the session is, the better! Have treats for bribery for the kids (and maybe some of the adults). Pick some fun poses, (Our family loves super-hero shirts), and try to get some happy candids as well.

-And of course, if you would like to simplify the process, you can always give us a call, and we’d be happy to help you out!

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