3 Steps to Cuddly Family Photos

Photographing families can be a challenge, but photographing energetic families with only 15 minutes to nail the shot can be downright exhausting! This is the scenario when I host Minishoots, my twice-a-year mini portrait experiences.

Parents, kids, dogs…
15 minutes.
I need a nap just thinking about it!

So how does one wrangle families into perfect portrait presentation within a short timeframe?

One doesn’t. I don’t. I don’t wrangle. Wrangling only leads to squirming and squealing and trying to get out of it. Kids hate being told where to stand, where to look, how to smile. And the more you boss them around, the less likely you are to capture a genuine moment. 

Here are 3 steps to making cuddly, quick family photos:

1.) Don’t fight the light. Instead of battling in a difficult lighting situation, photograph your family in open shade – this is the soft, even light that you find in the shade of a building, for example. Tree shade is fine as long as the shade coverage is complete; you don’t want speckles of light dotting anyone’s faces!

2.) Pose the parents. Now that you don’t have to worry about your light, it’s time to get your family in place – sort of. The ONLY people you should be directing now are the parents. Let the parents know that you want them to completely ignore their children (unless, of course, one of them begins running pell-mell for the lake or digging in the fire ant bed.) Get the parents close and cuddled, then…

3.) Shoot the moment. I PROMISE you, promise-promise-promise, that 9 times out of 10, after a minute or two, those kids are going to sidle right up to their folks. They didn’t want to be bossed around, but they REALLY don’t want to be left out. Now, casually, calmly, the parents can draw the kiddos into this sweet family moment, and YOU can begin making pictures.

Want to experience Minishoots for your own family? Sign up for one of my last few Spring Minishoot days!

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