Start Here: Placing People

School year graduations, family reunions, summer vacation time—you could say it’s family photo season.  Put your new smartphone or DSLR camera to use and prep your best photographs of the gang. To capture the spark of the moment within the frame, here are a few family photo tips:

You may be staging a traditional line-up with folks seated or you may opt for a casual standing pose. No matter the decision, start by positioning elders first–-grandma/grandpa or mom/dad. Then start building out the gathering by incorporating family members, including pets. If you approach a group photo like this you won’t have to shuffle around the more senior members of your family.

Be sure to enjoy the moment and don't get caught up capturing everything you see

Family Group Shots: Basics

– Can you can see every person’s smile?
– Close together groups may cast a shadow on a face adjacent. Check to be sure no one has odd shadows over their face
– Wardrobe check—everyone’s clothing in the right place?
– Are all persons posing in a suitable stance?

Who are these Folks?

There are times when a formal family pose is desired, but chances are you’re out to enjoy the day, so your objective may be to capture the family event flavor. Let those personalities to come through. Is there anything you can do to get your family photo subjects to reflect the reason for being together?

Get everyone close in a group shot so they all feel the same emotions

  • If it’s a picnic, why not wave hamburgers in the air?
  • If it’s a birthday shot how about putting the cake in the hands of the celebrated and then circling round?
  • Family camping? Stand in, or aside, the lake where you had so much fun

Take a few shots, and then shuffle people around a little for variety. If you’ve for a stiff group and shots are looking too posed, tell the gang to move around, but without moving their feet. They can stretch, roll eyes, chit chat for a second. Stay at the ready because sometimes catching folks off guard makes the most genuine image.


If the group is close-knit, or the photo needs to display love (think 50th anniversary party or pre-graduation beach party), squeeze ‘em together, bunch ‘em up. Move everyone closer so they are in contact; you don’t want gaps between subjects.

Remember your special once in a lifetime moment in photos with these helpful hints

Eyes Wide Open

The more people you have in the frame, the more there’s a chance that someone’s gonna blink. Try this: tell everyone to strike a pose then shut their eyes. Reveal that you will count to three. When they hear “three” that’s a cue to open wide and flash a smile. Do a slow and deliberate 1 – 2 – 3. Be prepped to fire off a succession of photos (most cameras have a multi-shot setting). Don’t forget to review what you get on the camera’s LCD.

Shoot with a purpose that day; not just to make divine photos to upload to social sites or family Web sites, but with an intent to print-out photos and mail them this time! If you nail a few of the shots you should preserve the moment. Photo enlargements and photo prints are the obvious items, but why not think about something that will get a little more face time? Maybe Photo Coffee Mugs? Heck, if you have lots of photos you should prep a Photo Book to share.

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