3 G's for Photographing Families

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I know for many photographers they find it challenging to capture families,
and so I wanted to share a few quick tips in this area today!!
It is easy to approach a family session by getting overwhelmed by the multiple people that you will need to direct, I hear ya!
Honestly I still get nervous photographing families, and with all my sessions in general.
And that is okay!!
It means you care about the images and want to do a good job for your clients,
but ultimately you have to put that aside and step out in confidence even if you are inwardly freaking out! :)
I can't give you advice for every specific situation, but here are three things I have learned over the past couple years with doing family sessions, and I hopefully this will be helpful to some people!! :)

+ Get people close. When I position people, I am CONSTANTLY telling them to move closer, lean their heads together, squish together, etc. And you can't just say this once, tell them over and over!! If I generally say to have everyone move closer and there is still some space separating people, I will tell someone specifically, "Susie, move closer to David -- put your arm around him!" etc. This makes a WORLD of difference in your photos, as the closer you have people (especially faces) the more connective 
your images will look.
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+ Go with the flow. If something isn't working, move on and do something else. If one kid is having a meltdown, leave them with mom and take dad/little sister off to the side and do some shots of just them. You want to keep things moving! I don't ever push things, and multiple times moms have told me how they appreciated how flexible I was with their kids. If you want everyone to skip and walk down a path and one kid refuses to do it, suggest something else - like collecting leaves and throwing them in the air! Also, don't get 'set' on certain shots you were wanting to get, as you could miss something magical happening 
that you didn't expect.

Example : Prior to this photo below, the mom, Gina, had brought a wooden rocking horse and wanted to do some shots with the baby girl on it. The problem was that it was towards the end of the session, baby Aoife was getting tired, and it was really windy at the location we were. So she was fussy and wasn't going to cooperate and sit happy on a wooden horse at this point. I suggested they could grab her binky if they wanted, so Dad grabbed it and I had them sit down in the grass. Aoife snuggled right up and this image below is one of my favorites from that shoot. I just love how simple and homey it is -- I actually have it printed and hung up on my wall in my room! We still did some shots with the rocking horse in the photo, I just knew it was best with how Aoife was doing to not force her to sit on it, and I would have missed these magical 'binky moments' otherwise.
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+ Give people things to do. Some of my favorite images at sessions are when people are running and playing! But you can't just say, "okay, I want you guys to play together!" Instead I say something like, "okay, I want you guys to play together here - you can play tag, do ring-around-the-rosie, throw leaves in the air, Dad can put baby Emily on his shoulders, etc." People will draw a blank if you just tell them to 'play', so you need to give them suggestions and then they have something to pick from,
or can be creative and do their own thing!!
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Photographing families can be very difficult at times but don't let yourself give up!!
Focus on small steps you can take to get better at them, and your work will steadily improve.
Documenting a family is super rewarding and a huge passion of mine. :)

happy Monday, guys!!
get excited for an awesome blog interview tomorrow, can't wait to share it!

~H. Elise

p.s. Chelsy is back blogging this week at daughterwithavision.blogspot.com,
so be sure to go check out her post today, so challenging!!
connect on


  1. Great tips, Hannah! I'm so glad you are doing posts like these! I need them!! :) I will def. keep these mind mind! Thank you for posting!

  2. Thank so much, Hannah! You do such a fabulous job with family sessions and it was such a JOY to see you "do your thing" at the workshop. So flexible and fun and profesh. :) These frames are awesome, too! Thanks again.

  3. Loved this! I love photography so the 3 tips really helped me tones! Thanks so much for sharing with us!! I'll definitely keep this in mind for next time!! Lovely gorgeous photo's you are so talented!


please leave a comment -- I would love to hear your thoughts on this post!! :)