with Courtney Slazinik
Tips For Taking Your Own Family Portraits

I LOVE family photos! I typically bring my tripod and remote along with us so I can capture a family photo of where ever we are. This year for Easter I decided to make everyone get dressed up before Easter so I could photograph our own family portraits. I wanted the practice since I like to take our own Christmas card photo each year. I learn new things each time I take our own photos. It did increase your appreciation of hiring someone to do it for you :O) he he Follow these tips to photograph your own family portraits.

Bring your tripod and remote. It is really hard to take your own photos if you are relying on the timer because you are constantly moving back and forth to reset the photos. Your children will soon grow tired of standing in the same position waiting for you to run around.

List of poses. I don’t know why but everytime I go to take my own family photos I run out of ideas if I forget to write them down.

Keep moving. This is another reason you list of poses comes in handy. Small children don’t want to stand still for a long time. Since you are doing it yourself it will definitely take more time. Allow the kids to run around while you get everything set up. Take some pictures and then move on.

Meter and focus off someone else in the photo. I always had my husband get into place. Then I could meter and focus off of him before asking the kids to come back in the picture and get in myself. Make sure you aperture is closed up enough for the amount of people you have in the photo.

Don’t expect everyone to look at the camera. This is especially true if you have young children like I do. I would tell them to look at the camera but that didn’t mean they would. Since I was trying to look at the camera as well there was no way for me to tell. I try to choose poses where they aren’t expected to look at the camera.

  • Hugging
  • Tickling (so they are laughing)
  • Kissing
  • Looking at each other
  • Hold hands
  • Walk

Prep your family. Explain what you are going to do, how long it will take, if there will be a reward afterwards (I think bribery works great :O). Also, bring snacks and water. If time allows have everyone eat something before you go.

  • May 30, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    GREAT JOB Courtney!

    Beautiful family and shots :-D


  • May 30, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Looks great!!! So I actually wanted to get a tripod and remote and I found a tripod that I like but where do you get a good remote for not an arm and a leg? Thanks! LOVE your blog!

  • May 30, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    These are all such beautiful photos, I love the one with your daughter cupping her chin and the walking away one :) Great tips too! I managed to get a nice family photo (at last!) while we were on holidays, I had to balance my camera on a post and set the self timer but I got it on the second attempt, lol

  • May 30, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    thank you for the tips! family photos are very challenging! rewards are a great idea!!!

  • May 30, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Thanks for the awesome tips! I would never have thought to do the walking away “pose” with the tripod…very cool! Now… on to get another tripod – I lost mine… don’t ask me how, but I did, haha!

  • May 30, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    SO spot on with the set it up … though I don’t have to worry about it with the “kids” – my husband’s patience for being part of a photo shoot is – well lets just say I better get the photos I want within a 10 minute window ;)
    I love the walking away photo! I also have a booklet I got for family shots and on the walking away she also recommends: ” Misti’s Real Family Photography”
    The walk. It seems families walking away from the camera are popular photos. I have yet to sell one UNLESS somebody is looking back at the camera. Most of the time it’s the youngest but not always. Have them walk and make a crazy noise, most the time only the young ones will look back

  • May 30, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Great tips! I’ve got one to add to the “remote” tip. If your camera allows, set a delay on your remote, so the shutter releases 1 or 2 seconds after you press the remote button. That way you can tuck that remote away before the shutter releases and it doesn’t have to be visible in the photo.

    When I first saw that I could set a delay on the remote, I said, “Why would I want that? I want the camera to take the picture when I tell it to!” But I got tired of trying to hide the remote and my hubby reminded me of the delay feature. He’s so smart. :)

  • May 31, 2011 at 2:58 AM

    Great tips and beautiful pictures!

  • May 31, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    Great post as always Courtney. You’re seriously my hero. I have no idea how you raise those two beautiful girls, take online photography workshops AND post blog posts every other day. Seriously, you’re super woman! This post really makes me want to get out and take some family photos before Karl leaves next week for the summer. I’ll let you know if I do! :)

    • May 31, 2011 at 8:08 AM

      You are too funny! No super woman here! Just lots of planning (I have the two weeks written so that I can work on the workshop). I hope you do go out and take some family photos!! I would LOVE to see them!!

  • May 31, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    awesome pics and tips! I’m inspired to go out today and attempt some family pics. Hopefully I don’t go insane. ;P

    • May 31, 2011 at 8:08 AM

      I would LOVE to see them if you do!!

      • June 2, 2011 at 3:57 AM

        hehe well needless to say it didn’t happen. There were too many people on beach and I was self concious. ahhh! I wish I didn’t feel that way.

  • May 31, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    They look great. You did a wonderful job! Thanks for the tips.

  • May 31, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Great tips Courtney!

    I really love the coordinating outfits!

  • Debbie Panton
    March 3, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    Great tips! I seriously need a remote. I’m always around like crazy trying to get in the shot…usually in heels. I kinda crazy about trying to get nice family shots… Last summer we went to a favorite beach.. 40 min drive instead of the one 10 minutes away from the house, walked about 1/2km up the beach… to get away from the few people that were on the beach and to get some driftwood and grasses in the shots. I brought bags of stuff ( for clothes changes behind towels… of course… ) I didn’t know anything about the manual setups… that should add to the fun. I have 2 boys ( one 8 and the other 2) and usually bring the dog… but this area had restrictions against that. I have a tripod.. but didn’t bring it… so balancing the camera on rocks. We definitely got some strange looks. My kids know I’m crazy… I only have the kit lens and wasn’t trying any manual stuff … so not sure my results really demonstrate d all the effort. This would be a pretty typical example of what I do. I’m trying to learn more about poses to. I look at a lot of photography pics and make notes to get some ideas ( just started during this… it really helps). Hard to remember everything when your rushing around. I just read the post you had on capturing starbursts before I read this… noticed you got one in the 2nd picture. Cool!!

    • Courtney
      March 8, 2012 at 4:57 PM

      Hey! i’m so glad to hear that you try to do family photos! Yes, it is a huge pain in the rear! Luckily, my family realizes I’m crazy as well and humors me. I do promise the hubby if the kids get too cranky then we quit. Luckily, that night it only took me about 20 minutes :O) Everyone left with a smile! Good luck next time!!

  • Tracy Ballard
    March 18, 2012 at 11:05 AM


  • April 8, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    I ordered my remote on ebay and get to pick it up from the post office tomorrow. I’m so excited at the thought of getting some family photos without paying someone an arm and a leg. So glad I found your site! Thanks for all the great info.

    • Courtney
      April 15, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      Yay! Hope you got your remote and started snapping away! Have fun!

  • Sheila
    May 13, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Funny how the walking away is so popular on here.. We are Airforce as well- out wedig photographer took a walking away one and said you are living a life of adventure/journeys this photo is important to so you are in it together. So we made sure to take one when we were pregnant with first, and now in a few days will take one with our toddler walking with us… One week till due date with second. Such a simple photo but it has come to mean so much to us. Love your site!

    • Courtney Slazinik
      May 15, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      I love that you have it from your wedding. My hubby and I have one from when we were dating. I asked a total stranger in Washington DC to take our photo while we walk away. They looked very confused but I love that shot :) Glad you have kept up the tradition with your family :)

  • Natasha Miller
    September 26, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    How do we go about a remote? I have a Kodak but no remote or tripod.

    • September 30, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      If you don’t have a remote, I would use the self timer :)

      • Karen
        February 14, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        Does the remote type matter? I am looking into buy camera accessories for personal use and it is so hard to know which things you should spend extra money on. I want a stand for backdrops and flooring (I am hoping my hobby turns something more eventually, but for now I want photos like you pay for!) and it seems like there are so many options and soooo many websites that sell the same thing but who knows what quality. I guess I am all over here, but a few people asked about remotes (which I must have!) and I was wondering if you could recommend a site to shop, or at least some save here/spend here suggestions for a blog post (if you haven’t already?)?

        • February 14, 2014 at 1:49 PM

          When I used a remote it was always an inexpensive $20 Nikon one. I purchased mine through Amazon :)

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