Capturing the whole family in a storytelling session | 3 Must Have Shots for Family Photos

Family Photography: 3 Must Have Shots

For many photographers, heading into a family storytelling session means that the family is going to heavily control what happens in the photos. Depending on your philosophy as a photographer, you might choose to never intervene as the scenes play out (think documentary photography) or you might intervene as needed, moving people to better light and poses (lifestyle photography).

Regardless of where you stand on the storytelling photography spectrum, one thing that helps to create a well-rounded collection at the end of the day is making a list of must-have shots for every session. 

Whether you direct your clients into these situations or you just look for them throughout your time together, these 3 shots are sure to leave you feeling good about your work and the parents beaming at how perfect their family looks when they see their gallery.

Shot #1 - Photograph The Whole Family

This might seem obvious, but sometimes, especially if you are shooting entirely documentary (no-posing or interfering from the photographer) it’s tricky. 

Family Photography Photo of Entire Family

Kids can be running around and one parent can disappear for a while or be just a bit too far out of the frame. Whether they are all gathered on the couch in a tickle fight or you pose them under a tree in the park, without a doubt, this will probably be the most important image in their collection.

Make sure you take several shots of this one, from different perspectives and with different expressions. If I’m taking a documentary approach, I let them work through all of their emotions of a conversation and then choose my favorites during culling. 

Shot #2 - Photograph Individual Portraits

As family photographers, more than likely we won’t be in a studio, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a powerful portrait. These images always end up being my favorites, especially if there is a really emotional child. 

Family Photography Portrait of Young Boy

Portraits don’t have to be a face and a smile, some of my favorites are of a hard laugh or a completely serious expression.

I try to get environmental portraits of every single family member while I’m shooting a family session. Not only do they create a nice well-rounded gallery, but individual portraits are really great to focus in on the personality and stories of each person in that time.

Shot #3 - Photograph Individual Relationships

Sometimes we get so caught up in chasing the kids or capturing the whole family photo we forget to also focus on the smaller relationships. Those photos will be the treasured ones down the road as kids and parents get older.

Storytelling Photography Ideas Photo of Mother and Newborn

Showcasing individual relationships is important because every one of these relationships is different. These relationships include

That last one, especially if you are hands-off as a photographer, can be difficult to capture in a lot of sessions.

To me, it’s one of the most important because for a lot of parents, me included, our marriage gets put at the bottom of the to-do list often times, and these photos remind us just how important that relationship is.

Family Photography Photo of Husband and Wife

For parents and children, try to catch them doing something special to that relationship. You can find out what that is from a pre-session questionnaire, or you can observe it during your time together.

Storytelling Photography Photo of a Father and Son

And just because you have a pre-determined “shot list” doesn’t mean all of your session collections will be the same.

Remember, each family is different and unique. They have an amazing story just waiting for you to tell it in images and in your own special way. You got this!  

Happy shooting! XO

Do you have any questions or comments for me about Family Photography? Just leave me a comment below - and PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!  

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