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How to Take your Own Family Pictures

This time of year is the busiest for Taking Family pictures, and I know I personally get excited at the idea of picking outfits, deciding on a location, and dreaming about how I’m going to display the pictures in my home. So today I’m going to talk ALL about those topics. I asked a few blogger friends if they’d allow me to post on their site for a little blog hop all about tips for Taking Family Pictures. Scroll to the bottom to HOP!

I live in this dichotomous world in my head.  I’ve always been an uber thrifty DIY gal, who loves to shop garage sales. However, I’m also a professional photographer who charges according to my expertise, which aren’t necessarily garage sale prices.  I think that every 2-3 years, investing in a professional photographer is ideal. There are many price ranges out there, and with a little research, with a little research, you can find someone in your area that meets your needs. I also know that taking Family Pictures just isn’t in the budget each year for most people, so I’m going to share some tips on How to Take your Own Family Pictures.

How to Take your own Family Pictures

{Image of my taken by my friend Jennifer Polson, more of me from my Birthday Shoot HERE}

For many years, I took our family pictures. Now, I’m blessed to have a handful of photographer friends that we trade services. {FYI–Lots of photographers are up for trades, so if you have a skill, offer it up. I personally love to have meals brought to me as a trade from friends–it doesn’t have to be an expertise!}

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think it’s more important to have the time in your life captured…than making sure it’s captured professionally. I want to cry when I hear that some families have never had an official family photo, and so many moms just don’t get in pictures at all with their families. I’m here to offer some advice on how you can get it done this year–promise me if it hasn’t happened for a while, that it will happen for you this year!

Use a Tripod

Ok, this isn’t a novel idea, but I use this a lot (even still) and think it’s worth the small investment for the random times it’s used.  I have this one with a bag carrier, found on Amazon for $14.99. It’s a handy tool for years to come.  Many times I’ve set my tripod up, and RUN into the picture. The toughest part about this method is making sure all the kids look in the right direction, and not at you running back.

~~If you have a remote, you can snap a few shots in a row, instead of running, but the distance is limited.

~~You can also tape a stuffed animal or something else on top of the camera to encourage the kids to look at that object. In the family photo below in 2008, I set up the tripod and camera on a trail near our home….and ran in (fun little fact: I was expecting #4).

Tripod Family Picture

{More pictures of this session HERE, a friend came later and took a few more}

Last summer at my extended family reunion on the beach, I went into it knowing I was going to have to figure something out. I decided to find a kind soul nearby on the beach, and ask for a big favor. I set up the entire family, got the tripod/camera in place, then nervously looked around. I thought to myself, “who is the lucky person that I will pluck from their family fun to do me a favor?” There was a nice lady not too far from us, who was in her chair reading a book. I went up to her and asked if she’d mind snapping a few for us. The reason I didn’t do the running thing this time is because there were so many of us, I needed her to just snap 30 in a row to make sure we were all looking. I said that, too. Just take a bunch in one minute, then you’re done!

Below is a collage of 3 images taken that day, and I’m in all three. The first, the kind lady on the beach took. The second with the trucks, I ran back and forth for a few (didn’t have my remote). The third action shot, I took a bunch of the fam throwing the ball, then my  husband took one of me, and I pasted them together later.

How to take your own family pictures

{More pictures of the beach session HERE}

So it can be done, you just have to work at it a little bit! It’s worth it to me, because I want my life to be documented, too. I want to be in the pictures with my family, not just take them of my kids! See more about that in my push to Capture the Joy in front of the lens.

Click “next” for more ideas, plus a “recipe” for taking your own pictures!


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  1. I liked the How to Enjoy and not just Endure Family Pictures. I think my family needs to have more fun and relax during the shoot.

  2. I have to admit that this post was very helpful for me!

  3. Great Tips for family photos. I like how you talk about the ISO speed based on weather factors.
    Thank You

  4. My favorite was How to Take your Own Family Pictures

  5. I liked the reminder to get out from behind the camera and get in a few shots!

  6. My fav is how to take your own family pics!

  7. Rebecca G says:

    Saying No to Auto. I have been trying to use my manual settings more and more but I will have a great photo but blurry subject. Not to sure about how to change my settings on my camera. Need to practice more.

  8. Thanks for sharing the great tips! I appreciate that even though you’re a professional photographer that sometimes moms just want to snap a few photos on their own too. 🙂

  9. Julie Pike says:

    Great post…thanks for the tips!!

  10. I want to learn!!!!

  11. Great tips!

  12. These were all great ideas! I liked that you gave which settings to use based on location and what colors everyone is wearing. We’re DIYing family pics this year, so I hope I win! 🙂

  13. So many great tips Kristen! I really need to try to do some family pictures and SOON! Thanks for the motivation 🙂
    Trish – Mom On Timeout recently posted..Petunia Pickle Bottom Carryall Giveaway!My Profile

  14. Love these tips! Thanks!

  15. How to take your own family photos

  16. What a great article. Thanks so much. Plus I love your use of colors in your pictures

  17. My favorite was learning how to take family photos!

  18. I’ll bet running into the picture is a good way to get the kids to smile 😉 That’s probably my biggest challenge.

  19. Love this article. I have the expensive camera and only use auto. Any tips on shooting active three year olds? I had to buy a camera because every photo shoot I took my twin boys to was a nightmare. Someone always doesn’t smile so I do a lot of photoshopping. Help….need ideas.

    • Here’s somewhere you can start: Try shooting in Shutter Priority Mode, and pay attention to the shutter speeds that are necessary to freeze the action of your boys. Also, don’t forget to make sure that your drive mode is set to continuous, and that your focus mode is AI-servo (as opposed to one shot autofocus). If your photos are too dark, or the apertures needed to capture the light for your shots results in too shallow of a depth of field, don’t be afraid to boost up your ISO – a grainy shot is often better than a blurry shot. Also, flash can be your friend if your boys are really quite fast :).

      To the author, thanks for this article. Useful!

  20. This couldnt have come at a better time. We are having extended family pictures done in the spring but I need something for my Christmas cards, so we are headed to the park this weekend to do our own pictures. Thanks for all of the tips.

  21. SO cute; I love your family pictures and am always needing tips on how to get in the pics myself! haha

  22. This is good 😀 Great tips. I just wish I could get my family to cooperate 😛 They hate it when I point a camera in their direction and they run (which is why there’s nothing but dolls on my site).
    Jenny recently posted..Chibi Miku Fun TimesMy Profile

  23. Hi Kristen, love your posts, I have a question, I just purchased a remote how far from the camera can you be I noticed you said that you can’t be that far, any suggestions on using one? thanks Sue

  24. What time of day is the best for taking pictures outside

  25. I’ve learned so much from this post. I use a tripod to take my pictures. I have a great camera but my pictures don’t always come out great. This makes me so sad. Because I want to provide great quality pictures for my readers/views. Thank you so much for sharing

  26. Wow Kristen, we’ll said 🙂 the entire article made me smile so many times :)never knew family pics hav so many dimension 🙂 I’m glad I found your page 🙂 keep writing and yes I’m going to take your advice on documenting life.

  27. I love to take photos and often miss out being in them. Love all your tips and I’ll definitely be experimenting more with the manual setting, setting with your recipe! Thanks!!

  28. Thank you for your tips! I am never in pictures with my family and I want to change that.

  29. I love how to take family pics.

  30. Michelle Huegel says:

    Thank you for the tips!! We’re definitely in that position this year, can’t afford pro pics but I still want to do something!

  31. Love these tips!

  32. The photos on the beach, what were the settings there? And if you don’t mind me asking, what lens did you use? All three photos seem to have come out so well, and everyone’s in focus. I always end up with someone out of focus.


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