Tips and Tricks for Great Family Portraits

If your family is large, like mine, you have limited opportunities to get EVERYONE together in one place for a new family portrait.  When the occasion arises, you want the best possible outcome for your effort and a great portrait that captures the memories and fun of your family-time.  While I am not even as talented as a photography novice when it comes to actual shots, when it comes to composition and planning for your photo, there are definitely a few things that I think help to create better pictures and fun portraits.

  1. Coordinate what everyone is wearing.  Having clothing colors that are the same color or at least overlap in the same color palette will prevent one person, in a field of 4 or 8 or 45, sticking out like a sore thumb.  You’ve all seen the pictures I’m talking about.  A great portrait that’s warm and fun, and then second from the end, in the front row, there’s Aunt June in a hot pink and turquoise Hawaiian print top or Uncle Don in a t-shirt with a local restaurant logo.  It’s a distraction from the unity and flow of the portrait.  Selecting monochromatic colors (varying hues and shades of the same color) and avoiding busy patterns can create a gorgeous picture, with focus on the faces and a color scheme that allows for some fun dramatic edits, post-shoot, like easy conversion to black and white.


    I may be slightly partial, but I'd say they are over-the-top adorable! And their coordinated outfits, not only look cute, but put the focus on those smiling faces!

  2. If you will have little ones in your pictures, make sure tummy’s are full and everyone has had a nap.  Photo shoots, especially of large groups, can take awhile to set up and coordinate.  Tired, hungry kids have a hard time being cheerful for a picture.
  3. Formal pictures can be really nice, but they can also be really stiff.  Most of the really great memories you will have of your family will be of you having fun together.  Try to capture that in your portraits with a few poses that are more natural and real.  Get the pristine, perfectly pressed formal pictures out of the way and then try something a little more “outside the box”.  Snapping pictures as kids and family just naturally interact, laugh and play may net you your favorite shots of the day.  Your two sons giggling and wrestling on the floor, with your daughter standing by, hands-on-hips will bring a smile to your face every time you look at the picture and be a depiction of a “real” moment in their lives.  A good photographer will capture the movement and the fun in their faces, and record a “memory” with a story, rather than just a picture.  Some of my favorite pictures of our kids and grandkids are with chocolate-covered faces or laughing and playing — just being who they are.  Let the photographer at your JCPenney Portrait Studio know a little bit about your family and your “style”, so they can make your photo shoot more custom and personal.  I’ve pinned some great shots from their gallery.  They may give you just the inspiration you need for your next family photo.


    Even sitting miles away, in the dark, in an auditorium, with yellow lights glowing off of her, this picture is more special to me because it's "real". She is doing what she loves and totally in the moment -- completely natural. Her very first dance recital.

  4. Be sure YOU are in the pictures.  Something I’ve learned the hard way is that if you’re the one who is always behind the camera, your family will regret not having pictures that include you.  Pass the camera to someone else, now and then, even if you don’t like your picture being taken.  Find a creative professional photographer or portrait studio that will help you to get comfortable and be part of the memories your family is creating with pictures.  JCPenney Portrait Studio would be a great option for that!  They can provide everything from a very formal portrait to a really fun and unique picture of your family moment; and right now, the price is definitely right!    You still have time to take advantage of their April promotion, only $20 for six traditional portrait sheets (mix & match size and images) as well as one free $9 sitting fee!
  5. And finally, I haven’t tried this one, yet, but it sounds like just the ticket for our next big family portrait with 12 people.  The suggestion was to have everyone close their eyes, just before you take the picture and then open them wide after you count 3.  The theory is that if you snap on “3”, you won’t have anyone blinking in the picture and eyes won’t look squinty, but wide and bright, for the portrait.   That one is definitely worth a try!

You can find a JCPenney Portrait Studio near you by clicking the Schedule Appointment button, at the top right of their homepage.  Enter your zip code into the box that appears and hit the ENTER button on your keyboard to find the store nearest you.  Check out the photo gallery on the JCPenney Portrait Studio website and you’ll see, right away, that they have options to fit whatever portrait style you’re looking for – from formal to fun and everything in between!

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of JCPenney Portrait Studio. I was asked to create a Pinterest Board and pin at least five (5) pins. I give JCPenney the right to repin any or all images/original content from this board. I received a promotional item as a thanks for my participation.



    • says

      It sure can, Ellen. It seems like the more people you have in the photo, the more difficult it becomes, but I love having group pictures of the whole family, so it was fun to research a few tips that could help us pull it off. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Brn2lisn says

    Great tips – and even thought you may be partial – the example picture’s are wonderful (*and they do all look adorable).

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