back to top

The Ultimate Guide to Family Photography (67 Great Tips)

Last updated: September 21, 2023 - 37 min read
ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little money. Need more info? See how it all works here.
Subscribe Below to Download the Article Immediately

You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training:

Your privacy is safe! We will never share your information.

Family photography celebrates the people we hold most dear in our lives. We shoot family photography to capture special moments we share with our loved ones. Whether your family photos are candid moments or posed portraits, they are treasured above all.

Taking pictures of your family is a great way to capture moments and create memories. But family photography could be a career option for photographers. Family photography is very popular all over the world. And people are willing to pay for professional pictures of their nearest and dearest.

This article covers everything you need to know about family photography. From choosing the right gear to posing the family members, we have it all. Here’s some photography fun for the whole family.

A family all wearing denim captured from a behind perspective

What Is Family Photography?

Family photography might sound self-explanatory. It’s just pictures of family members together, right? While that is true, there are many different types of family photography. And many different combinations of family members can come together for emotional photos.

Family photography can involve large group shots of the entire clan. This includes aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandkids, and step-siblings.

Family photos can also be smaller, involving just two or three people. You can take pictures of siblings together. They can be children or adults. It could be shots of parents with a child. Or one parent with one child.

Newborn photography also falls under the family photography umbrella. Families often want to show off their newest members at their cutest. And photographing the parents together while the mother is pregnant is another popular choice of family photo.

There are tons of different ways to photograph families. And if it were as simple as pointing the camera and shouting “say cheese!” we’d have no need for photographers. But it can be a complicated business. And creating images the family will cherish takes skill, knowledge, and dedication.

Often, family members are inexperienced models in front of the camera. You need to make them feel comfortable and at ease. And you need to control them without ruining the friendly atmosphere.

You also have the choice between posed portraits and candid shots. The posed portraits can involve any number of family members. And they can also have a candid feel while still being posed.

Then you have truly candid shots of family members interacting with one another. These can make special and unique family photos.

A family photograph is not one set type of photo. It can be anything and can involve any family member. And there are many ways to achieve success in this field of photography. We’ll take a deeper dive into the nuts and bolts of family photography, so keep reading.

A family of four posing outdoors
Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels

Camera Equipment

This section will look at the best equipment for family photography. We’ll give you something to get started on each subject. Click on the links to the full articles so you can get the best advice on family photography.

Best Camera for Family Photography

Families are an ever-changing unit. New children arrive and grow up. Older relatives move away or depart for good. Time moves quickly. And it can be hard to stop and appreciate the time you have with loved ones. That’s why having a good camera for family photography is so important.

Taking pictures of special family moments helps you appreciate them all the more. And if you have a quality camera, you’ll have something extra special. You can create photos to display in your home or send to loved ones far away.

The Canon EOS Rebel T8i is the best camera for taking pictures of the family at home. It’s easy to use, but the results are far better than anything you can produce with a smartphone. It also has good video options and creative features.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D
Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D
A feature-packed entry-level DSLR. The family-friendly usability and fantastic image quality make it ideal for family photography.

Family photography is also a lucrative business. And you’ll need a pro-level camera if you want to succeed with it. Families are paying for something above and beyond anything they can do at home. That’s why you need the best camera for professional family photography.

The Nikon Z6 II is the best camera for professional family photography. It’s a sleek mirrorless camera with advanced features. The results are fantastic for photos and videos. It has everything a professional photographer needs to succeed.

Nikon Z6 II
Nikon Z6 II
Nikon’s most well-rounded mirrorless with advanced features for photos and videos. The brilliant multimedia results make it the perfect option for pro family photographers.

The Best Cameras For Newborn Photography

Photographing newborns is no easy task. Newborn babies may not be able to move much, but you still have to take the utmost care. They can squirm and roll. This can cause them to fall off surfaces or for things to fall on them. You need a baby-proof space to shoot in.

The camera you choose is another important part of newborn photography. It needs a good range of settings including ISO and shutter speed. And you’ll need a lens with a wide aperture range.

Newborn babies are fragile creatures. Using strong artificial lights can disturb them and hurt their sensitive eyes. That’s why you need a camera that works well in low-light situations.

Thankfully, most DSLR and mirrorless cameras have the capacity to shoot different scenarios. That gives you plenty of choices.

The Nikon D5600 tops our list of the best cameras for newborn photography. It’s a fantastic DLSR with a compact body and excellent low-light settings. Click the link above to see the full list of cameras for newborn baby photography.

Nikon D5600
Nikon D5600
A small and light, low-cost all-rounder. It has an easy-to-use interface, excellent resolution and autofocus, and great low-light performance.

A portrait of a baby chewing a wooden block

Essential Family Photography Equipment for Better Portraits

The camera is the most important piece of equipment for any photographer. But it’s not the only thing you’ll need. A good set of photography accessories to go with it can help you take your photography to the next level.

Selecting the right lens is important for family portraiture. A 35mm lens is a good option for group portraits. And a 24-70mm zoom lens gives you creative versatility.

You also have a choice when it comes to lighting equipment. You can use a flash if you need a lot of illumination. And there are plenty of external flashes to choose from, especially if you have a Nikon or Canon camera.

Reflectors are a handy tool if you’re using natural light. They allow you to manipulate the light you have without additional lighting. And they give you more soft, natural-looking light that’s ideal for portraits.

A tripod is another important piece of gear for family photographers. It gives you more stability and allows for more flexibility with exposure settings. You can use slower shutter speeds with no camera shake. They also give you a fixed point to work from. This is helpful when using a carefully designed set or location.

Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
An affordable 5-in-1 reflector set that gives you more lighting options with no additional lights.

Manfrotto 055 Aluminum 3-Section Tripod Kit
Manfrotto 055 Aluminum 3-Section Tripod Kit
A top-quality tripod with a strong build and excellent stability options with adjustable legs.

How to Photograph Your Family

Now that you have your camera and gear, we’ll look at how to make the most out of them. You’ll be able to master your camera so you can maximize the magic moments when the family is together.

How to Choose the Right Camera Settings for Portraits

Many cameras have excellent auto modes. Auto mode is the easiest way to take pictures with most cameras. And you can get really good results. But shooting in auto mode can also hold you back creatively. For unique and personal family photos, you need to go manual.

Using manual mode on your camera means you control the main exposure settings. The main three settings are ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. They make up the exposure triangle.

You want to keep your ISO at a lower setting. The lower your ISO, the better the image quality. If you push the ISO setting too high, you’ll start to see digital noise in your images. This gives your images a faded and grainy appearance.

Your aperture is a useful setting when it comes to family portraits. When you use a wide aperture (or a lower f-stop), you create a shallow depth of field. This means your subject is in focus but the background has a nice blurred bokeh effect.

The shutter speed setting determines how long the shutter is open. A faster shutter speed is useful for action shots because you won’t see any motion blur.

You can use slower shutter speeds when necessary. But you will start to experience camera shake when it is set too slow. Using a tripod allows you to use slower shutter speeds. And cameras with image stabilization also give you more options with your shutter speed.

Shooting in RAW is a must if you want to edit your photos. JPEGs are great when shooting in auto mode. But RAW photos are uncompressed. And that means you have more editing options in post.

Read the full article above to learn more about camera settings for family photography.

Casual family photography of a mother and daughter hugging on a street

Family Cheat Sheet

A cheat sheet gives you all the info you need to capture the exact type of photo you want. The information is simple, easy to follow, and digestible. It gives you the tips and techniques you need to master the shot.

It’s a great idea to print them out and take them with you on family photo shoots. That means you can take any type of family shot without hesitation. All the info you need is right there with you.

You can also put them on your phone or tablet. Paper-free versions can come in handy during certain photo shoots. One of the best examples is photographing indoors in low light.

Each cheat sheet starts by determining whether you’re using natural, artificial, or flash lighting. You’re then able to follow the tips in the correct path.

Read about all of the family photography portrait scenarios you may encounter. And they have tips on how to photograph them effectively, too.

Two kids sitting on a kitchen table eating grapes
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

Top Ten Rules For Portrait Photography

In all areas of photography, there are rules. Rules can be helpful when you’re starting with portrait photography. They give you a solid foundation to build on. And they help you improve your techniques.

But photography is like many other areas of life. And rules are there to be bent, broken, and ignored. As your skills grow and develop, you can try new things. Eventually, you’ll have your own set of rules for portrait photography.

One of the most important rules to follow relates to aperture. Aperture is how wide or narrow the diameter of your lens opening is. It is determined by your lens, not by your camera.

Aperture is something that affects the depth of field of your scene. It decides how much of your image will be in focus or not.

Using an aperture between f/8 and f/16 ensures your subjects are in focus. This is still small enough to make sure that the background can still be blurred for maximum effect. And the focal length you choose goes a long way in determining the outcome of your portraits.

The direction of your model’s eyes is another important part of portrait photography. As do your model’s clothes.

You can read about all the 10 rules of portrait photography. And once you’ve mastered these rules, it’s time to break them and make your own.

Seven Creative Family Portrait Ideas

Photographing your family doesn’t have to be a serious occasion. You can experiment with different ideas to add more fun, emotion, and meaning to the photos.

Props are a great way to add a playful element to your family photo shoots. Kids always have fun with props. But you can also use extra features in adult photo shoots.

One very creative way to look at your family is to utilize the foreground and the background. It allows you to compartmentalize different sections of the family. You can have the parents in the background and the children in the foreground. It adds visual layers and depth of meaning.

Including pets is always a fun option for family photos. They are beloved family members just like any other. And bringing the dog, cat, or tortoise into the shot will put a smile on everyone’s face.

Visual interaction between family members heightens the emotional impact of your shots. The members can be talking, laughing, or hugging. Different interactions promote different emotions in the models and the viewers. You have a lot to play with.

Here are our best creative family portrait ideas.

Cue family photo of four kids shielding their eyes from their parents kissing behind them

Black and White Portraits

Black and white photography has a timeless quality. And that’s certainly true of portraits shot in black and white. A great black and white portrait is deep, engaging, and eternal. That’s why shooting in black and white is a great option for personal family portraits.

You need to look at different elements when shooting black and white photography. You can’t rely on vibrant colors to make your photos pop.

Texture, shape, and form take precedence. Light and contrast become more important in black and white images. You can create powerful black and white portraits by combining these visual elements.

Read our full article on how to make a statement with black and white portraits.

Black and white portrait of a couple kissing by the sea

Taking Fun and Natural Family Portraits

Taking fun and natural family portraits can be challenging. You are working with normal, everyday people who aren’t used to posing in front of a camera.

The photos will appear rigid and stiff if your models aren’t relaxed and at ease. They will lack the warmth and emotion you need for powerful family pictures. There are many ways to create a natural environment that allows true feelings to be expressed.

The more pre-shoot work you do, the less you need to do when shooting. Spending time with the group can help them relax around you, bringing out their warmer side.

You also have to be adaptable. Things can change at any moment on a family photo shoot. And that’s especially true when working with children. The key is to remain calm and adapt to the changes. If you become tense, so will the family. And that will affect your photos.

Read our full article for a deeper dive into how to take fun and natural family photos.

Family portrait of a man holding his young son

12 Dos and Don’ts of Family Portrait Photography

As you photograph families more often, you will start to see which images work. Some ideas are good for some scenes. But the same ones might not translate to other environments.

It all comes from practicing and critical evaluation. Our article can save you time and help you with a bunch of dos and don’ts for your family photography.

Bunching groups together is a handy “do” for family photos. A group that’s close in a photo will appear close emotionally. It’s a simple yet effective trick.

But don’t have them tilt their heads together. This has romantic connotations that might not be appropriate for all family shots.

A family of three posing by a wall

What to Wear for Family Photographs 

Knowing what to wear is half the battle in family photography. There are many options for color, texture, and patterns.

Matching outfits can be a fun visual demonstration of the familial connection. It’s a common theme in twin and sibling photography. But you can use this simple trick with any type of family photo.

You don’t always want matching outfits. That might be too kitsch for many families. And having family members wear comfortable clothes will help you create natural shots.

But some specific clothing choices can be beneficial. If left undirected, different family members might wear clothes that clash. And too many random colors and patterns might make for a messy and distracting set of images.

You can suggest colors to wear. And you can offer several colors that pair well together so they’re not all matching. Check out our article on color theory to make the most of color in your photography.

You can also use costumes and themed outfits. This is great for child photography, but it’s fun for the whole family too. Don’t force families to dress up. Some might not feel comfortable. And that won’t help you get the best family photos.

A family of seven posing outdoors
Photo by Karthika Gupta

How to Take Documentary Family Photography

Documentary family photography shows the natural side of your family. Nothing is posed or prearranged. Every shot is candid. And the set of photos gives an insight into your family’s real life.

Photos of our natural moments with our loved ones can be the most special. They are more intimate. And they depict a unique moment in time. The photos tell a story that relates to your family and your family alone.

Capturing good documentary family photography has many challenges.

You must shoot with an open mind. Don’t have too many pre-planned images in your head. If you do, you’ll try to direct the subjects. But you actually want them to act naturally.

You also need patience. It might take time for the family to get used to the camera. Some might feel tense with the camera around. And these could lead to stiff, unnatural pictures.

Bravery is another important part of documentary family photography. Giving a natural impression of the family involves shooting the highs, lows, laughs, and tears. Don’t shy away from emotion. Let it flow and be ready with the camera.

Here are our tips on how to create beautiful documentary family photography.

A monotone family lifestyle portrait

How to Easily Focus for Sharp Group Photos

There are few things more annoying than taking a whole bunch of family photos only to find some are out of focus. They might look sharp when you review them on the camera’s LCD screen. But on closer inspection, they might be blurry.

One tip is to have everyone in the same row. That puts everyone the same distance from your camera sensor. This means that if you focus on one person in the center, the others will also be sharp. This ensures an overall sharp focus for everyone.

You can also use a wider depth of field. This means more of your shot will be in focus. And you can achieve a wider depth of field by using a narrower aperture setting.

Here’s our article on how to get sharp group photos every time.

A large group posed on a wall

Family Photography Inspiration

If you are stuck for inspiration, there are many places you can look. Pinterest has the largest collection of images for searching for group or family photography.

They will show you images of groups of friends, wedding parties, and even work colleagues grouped together.

This article gives you a few great examples of how different artists see families.

A couple posed by a mirror
Photo by Daria Sannikova on Pexels

11 Best Techniques for Taking Family Portraits With Pets

We all love our pets. And they are true members of the family. And that’s why you should include your beloved animals in your family photos. They put a smile on our faces and give family photos a lift. But working with animals has extra concerns you need to be aware of.

A photo shoot involving animals is fun and tricky at the same time. You might have everyone in the perfect position when the dog decides to run away. They’re unpredictable and they don’t always understand the concept of a photo shoot.

If it isn’t your pet, always communicate with the owners. They can tell you if the dog is unsettled or has any triggers. You want to create a safe environment where the animals feel comfortable.

Having a few toys and treats on hand is a useful tip. They’re handy to have on you to help control the animal. They are more likely to behave if they get a tasty treat.

Here is our full article on how to take family portraits with pets.

A family walking their dog

How to Use Golden Hour Photography

The golden hour is when the sun is low in the sky at the beginning or end of the day. The sunlight becomes rich, deep, and golden. And you also have long shadows for dynamic contrast and composition. It’s a fantastic time to shoot family photography.

Unfortunately, the golden hour doesn’t happen at a set time every day. It depends on the time of year. The golden hour is the first hour after the sun rises or the last hour before the sun sets. That means it will be later in the summer and earlier in the winter.

There are calculator apps that give you accurate golden hour predictions. The Photographer’s Ephemeris or Helios Golden Hour works for iOS. Blue Hour Calculator is for Android. These will give you the times of this golden hour in a particular location.

You have to be prepared for a golden hour shoot. It doesn’t take long for the sun to sink below the horizon, taking the golden rays of light with it.

Our article on golden hour photography will show you how to capture your family in some of the best light possible.

family photography of a couple dancing in a field
Photo by Hillary Grigonis

Best Poses and Shot Ideas for Family Photography

This section looks at the best poses for family photography. If you’re tired of using the same old poses for your family photos, these articles are what you need. They’ll spark your creative fire. And you’ll be able to create fresh and fun family photos.

15 Best Poses for Photographing Families

There’s nothing better than having the whole family together. That’s the perfect time to get the camera out for a special family photo. But after a few shots in the same poses, the photography can get stale.

That’s why every family photographer needs a list of poses in their back pocket. With a good selection of poses, the photos will stay energetic and exciting. And poses that build on each other allow the photo shoot to flow.

Both parents walking hand in hand with a child is an excellent pose for a small family. It shows togetherness. And with the parents on either side, it shows how they protect the child.

Group hugs are always fun with close family members. It’s a simple pose that can generate genuine emotions and reactions.

Here’s our article on the best poses for photographing families.

family photography of a couple and young child walking on the beach
Photo by Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

Best Photo Ideas and Poses for Sibling Photo Shoots

Siblings have a special bond. It’s unlike any other relationship they have in their lives. It isn’t always without trials and tribulations. But they always have an unrivaled connection. That’s what makes sibling photography so emotive and powerful.

Photographing siblings together is a great way to snap kids together. They have someone to interact with. And it’s someone they trust. This creates a natural chemistry you can’t easily replicate.

The children can be sitting together. You can have them pull funny faces. And you can snap them when engaged in an exciting activity. You’ll get results the kids and parents will both love.

Sibling photography isn’t just about children. Being brothers and sisters lasts a lifetime. And family reunions are exciting times for adult siblings too. And they’re a great opportunity to photograph the siblings together.

Read the full article for more ideas for your next sibling photography shoot.

Older brother and baby brother holding hands in matching outfits
© Janko Ferlic

Tips and Poses for Children and Toddler Photography

Working with children can be a daunting task. They are bundles of energy. And they are prone to mood swings and bouts of uncontrolled emotion. This can put people off working with kids. But if you’re prepared, children can be a joy to work with.

While the photographer has to stay in control of the shoot, you can give children some freedom. You can encourage them to play and then follow their lead. This makes them feel relaxed. And that allows you to capture fun and authentic child photos.

Children move quickly, so be ready with your camera. You need to treat a child photo shoot like a sports shoot. You need a fast shutter speed and a good burst mode. Those settings help you keep up with the child without missing a shot.

Male child running through a field towards the camera

A Photographer’s Guide to Posing Men In Portraits

Traditionally, men have been the head of the family. And for many, this is still true. And it’s something you can bring into your family photography. You can pose the male family members to match their position in the family unit.

That’s why male poses often involve highlighting angles and emphasizing implied power. The photographer can also use strong and sharply defined lines for more emphasis.

This means emphasizing the V-shaped torso and the jawline. Concentrate on these while downplaying round shapes and non-dominant body language.

The prominence of these lines, as well as the features in the subject’s physique, can be controlled. Do this by adjusting the positioning of the subject in relation to the camera. The effect of the pose should be to show broad, stable shapes with a clear structure.

This gives the composition a visual strength which communicates the idea that the subject himself is strong. Check out our article on posing guidelines for men.

A casual posing gentleman

Best Female Poses for Portrait Photography—Posing References and Tips

Women’s portrait poses highlight the curves of the female form. In contrast with men’s poses, women’s poses avoid straight lines and hard angles.

There is one key thing to remember when posing women. The viewer’s eye should move around the portrait with ease. You guide it along with the curves that you introduce throughout the pose.

You can create subtle curves by bending parts of the body. The wrists, elbows, and knees can all be placed independently. They will work in harmony with the model’s form.

The “S Curve” is a classic pose. It guides the viewer’s eye down the frame from the face to the arms and hands. From here, it follows the flow of the image down to the model’s legs.

You can also employ these themes in maternal photos. Pregnant women are particularly curvy. And these new curves can bring more life to your female poses. You have new lines and shapes to work with. And you can use them to celebrate the female form.

Here’s our guide on how to pose female models.

A girl facing away from the camera on a road

Capture the Romance—Photographer’s Guide to Couple Poses

Knowing how to pose couples is one of the biggest advantages of all portrait and group photography. When you gather a group for a group shot, you often start in the middle.

You pose the married couple first. Then everyone else fits around them. Try a series of triangles and shapes. The focus is on the couple, after all.

By interacting with them and not only photographing the couple, you also help to calm them. Your images should reflect their happy, comfortable side with each other.

Here are all of our tips on how to pose couples successfully.

A couple posing on rocks by the beach

15 Best Poses for Photographing Families

At its most basic, the family portrait is a group photo. It’s like a record of who’s part of the family and highlights the relationship between the people in it.

The classic family portrait shows the family in a studio posed as a group and facing the camera. However, recent years have seen a trend toward more creative family portraits.

These could highlight the personality of a family. They can even present the family members posed unconventionally. A visually interesting setting keeps up the same mood and theme.

The important thing to remember is to keep the composition balanced. You’re working with many people in a single image.

This article presents some ideas that will help you create poses that break the mold of traditional family portraits. This helps to show the unique family dynamic of your subject.

A family of 5 posing outdoors
Photo by Hillary K Grigonis

Wedding Poses—The Ultimate Wedding Party Posing Guide For Beginners

Posing a family of dozens of people you have never met before is daunting. They might already have had a bit to drink. Sometimes this helps, but it often does not.

The best way to approach this is to have a vision. How do you want to portray the two sides of the extended family? Where is it going to take place?

Scouting the area is hugely beneficial to achieving the best photograph possible. Look for areas that can hold a large number of people. It’s great if it gives you a warm, happy mood.

Read all of our tips here on how to get the best from your wedding poses and family photography.

Posing is necessary for wedding and family photography

12 Composition Tips for Family Portraits

Just because you’re photographing someone’s family doesn’t mean it has to be at eye level. Most of the images you will see are like that, so change it up.

Showing a different perspective helps create something interesting and creative. And let’s face it, all families are different. They all have their quirks.

Use these to your advantage. If the group has small children or even toddlers, get the adults on the ground too. It’s a great, playful way to capture the family.

Here are all of our composition tips for family portraits.

Close up family photography of the legs of five people by a swimming pool

Newborn Photography

How to Photograph Newborns

Newborns are great to photograph. They sleep a lot and don’t move much. But they need a lot of attention and cooing when they are awake between shots.

They are both your easiest and toughest clients. It goes without saying that safety comes first. You will see many images where the newborn looks completely on their own. But this isn’t the case.

It comes down to clever placement of the mother and image stacking. You can create this effect in post-processing.

Here are all of our tips on how to photograph newborns.

a newborn baby posed with fireman paraphernalia

Posed or Lifestyle Newborn Photography—Which One Is Right For You?

Posing newborns should be quite easy. Wait for them to fall asleep and position them as you like. But always be careful and take your time.

Start slowly and make sure the baby is comfortable and, most of all, safe. Posing a newborn is not the same as posing men or women.

The things you try to hide in a photo of an adult is highlighted in newborn portraits. Fat rolls and wrinkles are the focus. Look for facial expressions. And be patient for animated moments like yawns and stretches.

A black and white portrait of a newborn baby

Newborn Photo Ideas

Newborn babies are precious and fragile. And newborns don’t stay newborns for long. They grow up quickly. And that’s why newborn photography is so important to parents. They capture those precious early moments. And they can be heart-achingly cute.

You can take pictures of the newborn with both parents. Or you can shoot one parent holding the baby. Their tiny features, like hands and feet, also make great subjects on their own.

There are plenty of costumes and themes you can play around with. You can even make sets for uniquely themed shoots. The possibilities are endless. But always make sure the props are soft and nothing is dangerous.

Newborn baby in striped trousers and hat on a furry blanket
© Katrina Elena

The Complete Guide To Newborn Photography—67 Tips

Newborn photography is a popular and lucrative niche. You need a lot of practice to stand out from the crowd.

But don’t worry, we have a complete guide to newborn photography. It includes 67 amazing tips to help you improve your skills.

A close up portrait of a newborn baby

Studio Photography

Tips for Setting Up Your Home Photography Studio

The studio is a photographer’s safe space. You have all your gear in one place. And you’re in command of your domain. That gives you the freedom to create incredible photography.

A home studio allows you to shoot portraits in the style and manner that suits you. If you’re only getting started with studio portraiture, you’ll want to set up your own studio.

This is the most affordable situation. It saves time, energy, and the cost of renting a space when you need it.

Of course, setup isn’t everything. You will still need to work with the subjects in the studio. After all, you still need to get the look, feel, and effect that you want in the portrait.

The sooner you can get comfortable working in the studio, the sooner you’ll be able to improve your family photography.

A photography studio

Best Lighting Equipment to Get You Started

Whether you’re working in a rented studio or building your own, you will find a lot of different choices for lighting. Flashbulbs are the most common as they are cheap and widely available.

But there are other forms that will provide constant light, rather than a flash. These are incandescent and fluorescent and are often used in studios.

Godox V860II-N Flash for Nikon D800-D70S
Godox V860II-N Flash for Nikon D800-D70S
This Godox flash has plenty of power and a good array of functions. It’s good value, versatile, and will improve your flash photography.

How to Use a Beauty Dish to Create Beautiful Lighting

A beauty dish is a great piece of studio equipment. It is a dish-shaped lighting modifier. It is often painted silver on the inside.

The light bounces into the back of the dish and reflects around the sides and then out the front. This provides a beautiful, soft light that falls on the subject at equal strengths.

You will see that compared to a flashbulb, a beauty dish spreads its intensity over a wider area. It can be used with a “grid,” which allows a more directed light source.

Our full-length article explains why and how to use a beauty dish

A portrait of a female model

10 DIY Speedlight Flash Modifiers

If you have a Speedlite, why not try some DIY projects? Store-bought modifiers can be expensive to buy. And you might find you don’t use them all the time.

Creating them at home means you get to try different ways. You’ll need a few to light your portraits without spending a lot of money.

You can try before you buy or keep the ones you made. This lets you be very creative in getting the lighting look you want.

With a few small pieces of plastic, you can create a few different modifiers. You might even have a few useful items laying around the house.

You might need to buy a pack of Pringles. But then you can enjoy them too! Check out our tutorial on how to make DIY flash modifiers.

A can of Pringles and straws

How to Use a Photography Reflector for Perfect Lighting

Reflectors are a cheap and easy way to add more light to your portrait photography. They are cheap, lightweight, and easy to use.

They don’t require batteries, meaning they can go anywhere.

There are many different types you can buy. Most will come with a combination of colors, such as gold, silver, and diffused.

They all have a different effect on how the added light hits your subject. Here is our article on the best ways to use light reflectors.

Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
An affordable 5-in-1 reflector set that gives you more lighting options with no additional lights.


Portrait Lighting Terms—A Concise Glossary

Studio lighting is a vast topic. And there is a large amount of terminology that you’ll have to understand to make progress in this area of photography.

Being familiar with lighting vocabulary will help you become better at working with different types of light. And the more gear you know, the more you’ll be able to incorporate into your work.

This short glossary of lighting terms is a handy reference that you can refer to when assembling your lighting kit.

Portrait of a female model

Lighting Patterns and Tips

Entire books have been written on the many lighting patterns that photographers can use in different scenarios.

Portraiture is only one area where very basic lighting patterns can work wonders. These are:

These patterns are among the most useful and easy to create with basic lighting gear. Many advanced lighting setups are actually variations of these basic ones.

Memorize these and you’ll have a solid foundation of lighting choices when you need to take a portrait.

After mastering the basics of portrait lighting, you’ll be better prepared. You will start to assess more advanced facets of lighting such as the quality, direction, and ratio.

Positions of lighting setups for family photography

Utilizing Natural Window Light

Using the natural light that shines through a window is a great way to get soft light. This is an often overlooked light source for an indoor subject. And it costs nothing. It gives you softer tones and lines.

The effect from the window on the outdoor light is almost the same as that of a softbox on a flash. For example, the intensity of the light is lessened.

If the light itself is done right, the effect can be impressive and professional-looking while maintaining soft light conditions.

You are harnessing the power and intensity of the light. Moving the subject closer to the window gives the scene more light. Moving away from the window gives you less.

But this is exclusively a natural light source dependent on the time of day and weather. You’ll need to pay close attention to the quality of the light. Read the full article to learn more about using natural window light.

A couple posed in a cafe

10 Things Your Photography Contract Must Include

A photography contract for family photography is to ensure both parties retain their rights. Both parties need to understand their position before any shooting takes place.

The contract ensures neither party can use the images for anything that has not been discussed. It’s important for the photographer so the family doesn’t sell the pictures as their own. But it also provides security for the family. They can rest assured that the photos of their family will not be shared without their consent.

One rule for photographing people is to get a model release. This is a contract between both parties that allows the use of the model’s image. But this is only necessary when using images for advertising.

Here is our full article on 10 things your photography contract should include.

A girl posing sitting on the ground of an outdoor carpark
Photo by Natalia Robert

ShootProof—An Image Sharing Platform 

As a professional photographer, you must deliver your images in a timely manner. That’s where ShootProof comes in. This is a platform that allows you to easily share large files with your clients. This all comes at a monthly fee.

This means your clients will be happy, satisfied, and likely to work with you again! It’s one of the top options for file sharing.

Here’s our full article on the best way to share your photos with clients.

A screenshot of pixieset website
Photo by Natalia Robert

Post-Processing Family Photography

Portrait Workflow

We can all benefit from using a workflow. It gives you a solid structure to the way you work. It saves time and helps you create consistently great results. It’s also ideal for editing large sets of photos, as you would with a family photography shoot.

The best advice we can give you is to make sure you upload your images correctly. Organization is such an important part of the process. It isn’t glamorous. But keeping your workflow tidy and correct is the first step to success.

Create unique folders for each shoot. And make sure they are clearly labeled. Remember to back up your work using an external hard drive.

Here are all of our tips covering how to create your workflow.

A smiling man posed for a headshot
Photo by Italo Melo on Pexels

Editing Portraits in Lightroom—What You Absolutely Must Know

Adobe Lightroom is perfect for the majority of your portraiture post-processing. The Lightroom toolset is smaller than Photoshop. But it’s ideal for portrait touchups and enhancements.

The smaller program allows for more straightforward workflows. And Lightroom presets help you produce consistent results. You can develop your own style. And you can give each set of photos a distinct look.

Lightroom helps with batch editing and photo organization. It’s the best software for photographers in any field.

This guide to editing portraits in Lightroom gives you a solid overview of how to organize your portrait files. And it shows you how to perform the major corrections and edits that portraits usually need.

Diptych of a portrait edited with Lightroom successfully process your family photography shoots

How to Use Photoshop for Portrait Photography

Adobe Photoshop is the program you need to make more complex changes to your photos. It has all the tools you need for retouching portraits. That includes tools for removing wrinkles and softening skin tones.

It’s often the final stage of portrait photography before you have a finished product. The amount you retouch your photos is up to you and your client. And retouching is not something common in family photography. But Photoshop is a tool you can use to give your family photography a lift.

This article has tutorials on some of the most used retouching techniques. These include spot healing, frequency separation, and dodging & burning.

Here’s our tutorial on how to edit portraits in Photoshop.

A screenshot of retouching family photography in Lightroom

10 Awesome Photo Editing Tips for a Faster Workflow

Time is money for professional photographers. And an effecient workflow helps you do more work in less time. And that means more money at the end of the day.

Often, your images only need a little tweaking with local adjustments such as exposure and white balance. That doesn’t take long with one photo. But the time adds up when you have hundreds of photos to edit. That’s why improving your workflow is so important.

One of the best pieces of advice we can pass on is to work on all images equally. It is very easy to get sidetracked, come across an image we like, and edit it for two hours.

Treat all images loosely the same. And use set workflows and presets to speed the process along.

Check out our tips for a faster photo editing workflow.

A black and white wedding portrait

5 Beginner Blunders in Post-Processing Portraits

When it comes to post-processing, don’t overdo it. A good artist knows when to stop, take a step back, and admire their work. Restraint is key to good photo editing. You want to enhance your photos. But you don’t want to overdo it.

There are certain things photographers tend to do when editing their work. One mistake is putting too much midtone contrast into their images.

This type of contrast is found in Lightroom under the Clarity slider. This gives the edges a little pop. It also helps to pull out details in the skin. It works well, but don’t overdo it. It’s easy to see when someone has used too much of this effect.

Read our article on how to avoid post-processing blunders for more information.

lifestyle family photography of a couple with a little girl


Family photography is a genre that requires knowledge of different photo genres. You need to know how to take good portraits and group photographs. You also have to be able to show the connection and relationship between people.

Use this guide to improve your family photography and capture precious moments and memories for your clients.