Taking the perfect family portrait yourself is HARD – so hard we’ve had to dedicate a two part series to the subject. But it’s absolutely doable if you go about it right… So here’s how to achieve a photo worthy of being shared with the relatives – without having to make an appointment with a professional.

In Part I of ‘Take the Family Portrait Into Your Own Hands‘ we learned about what to be aware of in terms of planning, technology and the necessary challenges which are a part of it.

Now we’re going to answer all the questions that’ll come up during the photo shoot itself. But no worries, proper planning is half the battle. 🙂

Not sure exactly what to use your family portrait for, even if you DO end up creating the perfect one? We have 10 DIY photo gift ideas to get you feeling inspired.

Natural poses for a family portrait

Glückliche Familie posiert im Park
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / Monkey Business Images

Sure, it seems like this should be easy, but oddly, this topics is at the top of many people’s minds: Creating a natural pose for the camera. Photographers as well as models are often stumped on this. But no worries, a few tricks can solve the problem without too much trouble.

Rule number one: If everyone in the family is enjoying themselves then they won’t just be having more fun, but also increasing the chance of an authentic family portrait. As the photographer, you also have the responsibility to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Another trick for making the photo shoot as natural as possible – instead of directing and demanding different poses, the models could interact with the location, walking though the scenery together, hugging each other or even playing a game (a great solution if you’re doing a photo shoot involving small children).

The aim should be taking ‘real’ photos! Because then it’s not just a really nice end-result, but also a day which the family will remember as a great day spent together!

Searching for a guide on cool and aesthetic poses? Say no more! Here, you’ll find some great on ideas and examples which are easy to copy.

Give clear instructions during the family portrait shoot

Glückliche Familie durch den Park spazierend

Hang on… a second ago you said I shouldn’t go all Master of Ceremonies on them? True, but clear instructions are still important – particularly for your models and in turn to create the best family portrait possible.

Clear the way for a relaxed atmosphere, have fun and, as you casually take your photos, give some clear instructions on what people should do: someone should move slightly? Show them with your body language. Someone’s clothes needs patting down? Say it. There could be a few more smiles on faces? Not a problem, lead with your tone.

Straight away you’ll notice that your instructions can be easily be misunderstood. Something like ‘a little more to the left’ is the opposite for your model. Use your body language and turn yourself in the right direction instead to stay efficient. Objects in the setting can also be used to help; “look to the sea” or “turn towards the tree”…

And at the same time keep in mind the smaller details, like the hand positions of your models, how they’re holding their head and if their clothes are sitting nicely. Don’t worry, with time these things will strike you immediately.

Take loads of photos

Zwei Kinder Kissenschlacht spielend

Now that we’re done with how to communicate during the photo shoot, we can forge ahead with another topic. How many photos you should be taking…

Of course, there’s no exact number, but our tip goes like this: don’t be stingy with your photos. There’s no downside. A lot of photographers out there are familiar with that sinking feeling that comes when they’ve done a group portrait only to realize afterwards that someone in the photo has their eyes half closed, or someone’s in the middle of speaking.

Taking lots of photos increases the chance that everyone looks picture-perfect in at least one of the photos.

One way to deal with this is by setting up your camera so that it takes a series of shots automatically. Make sure you think about the exposure time too, so that you avoid getting any unwanted blurry spots if someone moves. A good starting point is 1/250 seconds.

Be open to new family portrait ideas

Perfektes Familienfoto: Vater und Kinder spielend am Strand im Sonnenuntergang

This is especially true if you’re working with kids. If you have ideas already in mind before the shoot – well, great! But if your family isn’t really convinced by them or the kids are excited to try something else, roll with it.

It’s always a better result if you manage to take a nice, unplanned – but perfect family portrait showing a happy family.

Speaking kids, here’s some great ideas on capturing the little ones’ personalities on camera

Keep it simple

The idea of a perfect family portrait is that is has earned its place on the wall for a while to come. They should be photos which you still want to show off in 10 years time, or even show to the grandkids.

If you’re trying for a timeless look, then avoid wearing trendy edits or accessories (unless a kind of decade snapshot is what you’re going for!) – because they might look very weird to you in 20 years time.

If something does catch you as plain wrong, well thankfully there’s such a nifty thing as photo editing… Find out the best online tools here.


Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them than on a postcard?

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