Family portraits with children can be real fun and produce great results. I have been photographing children and families for years. On occasion, we started the photo session with unhappy children. At the end, we always were able to turn things around and have fun during the shoot.
I learnt some lessons along the way, which will make your family portrait session more fun and more relaxed.

Make it playful

Children are by default, playful. Photo sessions are fun. Why do children arrive and are unhappy? There are many possible reasons for that. Some kids experience going for the photo shoot as something they have to do and don’t expect fun. Some parents put subconsciously pressure on the children as they want them to look their best on the photo shoot day. There is cost involved and you don’t want to waste your money on a photo shoot, where the kids don’t look their part.

They easiest way of achieving this, is by being relaxed and realistic. Children bring with them an element of unpredictability. That is okay. During my photo sessions with children, I give them lots of space to explore the environment and run around. It is one of the reasons, I prefer on location sessions for family portraits.

Bring a change of clothes

Anything can happen and clothes, will get dirty one way or the other. Just bring some extra clothes with. Dirty pants can also add character to the portrait. If your child tends to come home full of sand after a day of playing outside, it can be something you want to capture in your portrait as well.
I do not recommend to bring the same outfit for every family member. It looks in my opinion boring and well too uniform. A similar style works much better and allows individual character for you and your family members. It keeps children also happy, if they are not forced to wear something they do not like.

No blackmailing

This is important. Don’t try “If you smile, you get an ice cream” manipulation. It does not work! It produces fake smiles, if at all. I had sessions, where this approach made it almost impossible to create natural looking portraits of the children.
Rather let them have an ice cream during the session. It keeps you, your kids and the photographer happy.

Be patient

No person operates like a robot, especially children. Patience is a miracle tool for relaxed and natural looking portraits. Sometimes, I just sit and observe and let the children play and get lost in their world. It is then, that I can photograph those fun portraits.


Family portraits are not only fun, but become real fun when everyone participates. I do a lot of running during these sessions. Sometimes I jump up and down, make funny faces, just to keep the entertainment going. Some of my favorite family portraits happened, when everyone participated and imitated my silliness.
Relax, have some fun and then you will be surprised on how much fun the pictures look like.
I photograph family portraits on location and in studio. As long as everyone enjoys the sessions, the results are great.

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