10 Best Family Portrait Photography Ideas

Family portraits are a very popular form of group photography. When photographing a group it can be difficult to make sure that everyone looks their best.

10 Best Family Portrait Photography Ideas

You need to feature each person equally and avoid making one person the focal point of the photograph. You also need to make sure that each person is evenly lit. 

There are lots of different styles of family portraits, and different ideas that you can use to capture the perfect photograph.

Make sure you speak to your clients to understand what they want from the photo so you can all be prepared for the shoot. 

Here are 10 of the best ideas that you can try out for your next family portrait (see also: 10 Best Portrait Photography In Nature Ideas). 

1. Color Theme 

Choosing a color to focus on helps to introduce a sense of cohesiveness to the family portrait. It still leaves room for individuality, as each person can choose their own outfit or item of clothing that fits with the color.

Make sure the color is a good choice for all of the family members as you want everyone to look their best. 

If the subjects of the photograph are going to be dressing in the same color, it is best to choose a neutral background that contrasts with that color without clashing.

This idea works best when the family is positioned quite close together, so try not to leave gaps. Consider the layers of the photograph – try to create some variation in height with a mixture of seated and standing poses. 

2. Black & White 

A black and white family portrait is sophisticated and timeless, and will look great in any room.

Black and white is also very flattering, as it can help to even out skin tone without the need to edit the photograph in any way. 

When creating black and white portraits it is best to ask the subjects to stick to neutral colors in terms of clothing. Black and white is best, or dark gray, as this maintains balance in the photograph.

Choose a light background to make the subjects of the photograph stand out, or a darker background if you want to create a more serious mood for the photo. 

3. Use A Couch 

Using a couch is a great way to set up a family portrait. It gives you lots of opportunities for positions and poses, and generally makes the subjects more at ease than if they were standing.

You can easily create layers and interest by having some subjects seated on the couch, others on the arms of the couch, and some standing behind the couch.

If there are small children involved in the photoshoot they can sit on the floor in front of the couch or even be on someone’s lap. 

Couch photoshoots are very versatile – you can choose a neutral background or even place the couch in an outdoor setting. You can switch the positions of the subjects around to create different dynamics until you get the perfect shot. 

4. Holiday Theme

Themed family portraits can be really fun to shoot(see also: How To Shoot Full-Body Portrait Photography (+ Best Lenses)). You can choose Christmas, or any other holiday that is significant to the family such as Easter, Diwali, Eid Al Fitr, Pesach and many more.

You can use themed outfits or props, a sign, or create a themed backdrop for the studio. You could also make it a more intimate photoshoot and use the family’s home as the location. 

Holidays are very personal and important to the family so you need to do your research and have a thorough consultation with the client to make sure that you meet all of their expectations and needs. 

5. Hugging 

A lot of photographers avoid directing their subjects into a hugging pose as it can sometimes look awkward. If you get it right, it can create an intimate and touching family portrait that captures a lot of emotion.

If you can catch a candid moment in between posed shots, this can be great. If not, you need to consider the height of the different family members to make sure that they can all be seen.

Put the smallest in the front, the tallest in the middle, and the medium height family members on the edge.

The people standing on the edge should turn their bodies inward so the camera can see their side profile, and nobody should have their back to the camera. 

The trick to getting a good hugging photograph is to close the gaps. Any gaps between people in the photograph look awkward, so everyone needs to be stood close together.

6. Use A Staircase 

A staircase is an ideal setting for a group photograph and it can work very well for family portraits. If the family is small you can stick to the bottom few steps, but if it is a large group you can use the entire staircase.

The gradual elevation of the stairs means that everyone can be seen clearly, even if they are at the back of the photograph. 

To really make the most of the different layers, have some people sitting down on the steps. You can also have some people facing forward and others at a side angle, perhaps leaning on the bannister or the wall.

This can make the photograph feel more casual and relaxed. Don’t be afraid to switch people around and try out different positions until you find the perfect shot. 

7. Candid Photos

Family portraits don’t have to be posed and traditional. It can be nice to get some candid shots of the family doing a group activity.

This could be home baking in the family home, playing a board game, throwing a ball around the garden, or any other activity that puts the family at ease and gets them interacting with each other. 

This idea works particularly well with family groups that include small children.

It prevents you from having to spend lots of time trying to get the children to look at the camera and stay focused, and you are much more likely to capture the children smiling. 

8. Get Outdoors 

You don’t have to stick to a studio or a home setting to take a family portrait. You can get outdoors and use nature as your backdrop. This works all year round, as long as the weather is dry and you dress appropriately for the temperature.

You could try a fall photoshoot with falling leaves, or even get some shots of the family throwing leaves into the air. Spring is a great time to shoot outdoors as you can make the most of the blossom trees. 

The biggest challenge with shooting outdoors is getting everyone’s face evenly lit, so keep this in mind and bring whatever equipment you might need. 

9. Matching Outfits 

Matching outfits can be a fun idea for family photoshoots, especially with small children. It also provides a sense of uniformity and balance to the photograph, and creates a sense of togetherness which works well for family portraits. 

10. Fun Poses

You don’t have to stick to the traditional seated or standing poses for family portraits. You can throw in some fun poses to mix it up, especially if you are working with a young family with children.

Try out some piggy backs or jumping to introduce movement into the photograph. 


Family portraits can be fun and varied if you try out these great ideas. Remember to take plenty of shots in case someone has their eyes closed or is looking away from the camera.

Laura McNeill
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