Tips for Photographing Families

Tips for photographing families — a  Top 10 List from Kate Craft, natural light custom photographer based in Duluth, MN/ Superior, WI.

  1. Go with the flow. I like to have an idea of what poses and setups I want to use, but sometimes you have to let preconceptions go and just go with the flow! Not every family is the same so not every session will be the same…and who wants to shoot the same over and over!!
    tips-for-photographing-families go with the flow
  2. Provide plenty of time for breaks and horse play especially if the kids are younger. It’s easy for them to burn out fast. I like to set the camera down and play from time to time.
  3. Get to know the kids make them comfortable with you. Tamara Lackey says “for 2 hours we are not raising moral human beings.” I like to tell parents let them be. As long as the children are not 100% out of control it’s all good.
  4. Get your safe shots. For me, these are the posed smile at the camera portraits. Then, let your creativity fly free. Get in close, snap away as sand is thrown and twirling is happening. Capture moments that you as a mom or dad would love to have someday!
  5. Shot the in between!! I like to have Mom and Dad tickle or everyone make funny faces and catch the in-between moments. The giggles and smiles are true and real!
    tips for photographing families in between
  6. Gage the kids’ personalities when you arrive. Some kids love to run free right away, others are more reserved. If the kids want to stay close to Mom and Dad,  do the group shots first.
    tips for photographing families shy kids
  7. Take in to account children’s ages and personalities when planing locations. Ask the parents if their children are runners or good listeners, etc. and explain why you need to know. Taking a wild child to a busy urban location with heavy traffic may not work well. Scout a quiet corner and bring a ‘kid-wrangler’ along if Mom has her heart set on an urban setting.
  8. Keep it professional. I have a detailed contract that explains my expectations and requirements which EVERY client must sign before their session. I am all for fun and games during the session, but I want everyone on the same page as far as expectations and delivery of goods and services. When I know all questions have been answered, it makes me more at ease which plays into my next point…
  9. Let yourself be there mentally and emotionally. You need to be interacting and present to capture true emotion. You also have to get out of your head and move beyond the the technical and business aspect of the work.  This means practice, practice, practice before you take on clients. The technical process must be second nature.
  10. Under-promise and over deliver!  This is a motto to live by and keeps everyone happy :)=20

Bonus tip : Be sure to tell Mom and Dad “just keep looking at the camera no matter what happens” when trying to get the kiddos to look at you for that group shot with everyone smiling at the camera!
tips for photographing families keep everyone looking

Thanks Kate! Be sure to check out Kate’s work at or on Facebook. What are your favorite tips and tricks when photographing families? Leave your comments and questions below!

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