The “selfie age” is a very different time from when photos were taken on film, and each shot was precious. You might think you had it tough as a child posing for school photos, but things were even worse a bit further back in time. When Victorians had their pictures taken and photography was the latest thing, the photographer would first put the subject’s head in a clamp to make sure they couldn’t move and spoil the photo, and it could take as long as fifteen minutes of sitting very still just to take one picture.
What Is a Family Picture?
If you think of a family picture, the first thing that springs to your mind may be a rigid posed photo with frozen smiles, taken against a strange background in a professional photographer’s studio. However, it doesn’t need to be like this. Though you may still choose to use a professional photographer, there are a whole host of fun, modern family picture ideas that you can try out to give your photos a more relaxed and natural vibe.
Is There a Need for Family Pictures?
Fewer people are having photos printed now that they can store thousands of images on their phone, on their computer, or in the cloud. But that doesn’t mean photos aren’t still needed. If you’re a parent, you’ll want to have photos of your kids as they grow up, and everyone wants to have photos of happy events and vacations so they can remember the good times.
In addition, in a world where extended families are living increasingly far away from each other, photos can help distant relatives to stay informed on how your family is doing, and what they all look like now. The epitome of this concept is, of course, "The Christmas Card Photo," but many photo-bloggers and Pinterest boards suggest family picture ideas which can be taken and sent to friends and family at all times of the year.
General Photo Tips
Before we move on to the family picture ideas, here are some general tips to help you take better photos. Firstly, good lighting makes a good photo, so try to take your photos in natural light. When shooting outside, if possible, make sure that the sun is behind you. This will make the colors seem brighter and more vivid.
For people who don’t like having their photo taken or freeze up when told to smile, try to encourage them to look at the photographer and not the camera. If you’re taking the pictures, tell some jokes to lighten the mood and get everyone smiling naturally. It may take more tries to get a photo, but the end result will be a hundred times better if everyone has a genuine smile on their face.
12 Family Picture Ideas
We’ve put together a list of family picture ideas to help you raise your photo game, as well as tips and pointers for helping camera-shy kids enjoy the photo-taking experience.
Ugly Christmas Sweater
You’ve all seen the ugly Christmas sweaters pop up every year as soon as Halloween is over. Now you can use this most charmingly hideous of garments as they key feature of a family photo. Your family could get matching sweaters, or all go down to Target or Walmart together to choose the ones you want. This can be a way of helping kids who don’t like having their photo taken to get into the swing of things. Getting to choose what they will wear can help them feel more comfortable when the time comes to take the photos.
Reportage is a photo-taking style sometimes known as “documentary photography.” The photos taken in this style are unposed and natural, and capture people in the moment. If you have a friend with a camera, why not get them to come round and hang out with you and your family for a couple of hours? Do something all together, and forget about the camera watching you. This should capture the authentic look of your family all doing something they enjoy together. This is the perfect approach if any of you do not like having to smile for the camera.
Black and White
There is something classically elegant about a black-and-white photo. Luckily, simple photo editing programs now come not only installed on computers but also phones. If you want to put your family photo into black and white, there should be a variety of filters available for you to get the black-and-white look you prefer.
They’re part of your family anyway, so if you have pets, why not include them in your family picture? Not only are pets usually cute, but you never know what they’re going to do next. This can lead to your family pictures having a more informal and spontaneous look to them, which is great.
Whether for a holiday occasion or just for fun, taking family photos with costumes and props can be a good way of having fun with your photo shoot. Wigs, fake noses, mustaches, and hats — you name it! Anything can be used to add some humor to your picture. This idea is another good one for your family if any of you are camera-shy, because messing around with some props or hiding behind a comic mustache can be a good way of allaying some of the anxieties associated with having your picture taken.
If you want to send a special message or holiday greeting with your photo, you can do that with a set of letters cut out of colored card, or with a whiteboard or chalkboard for that quirky Instagram look.
Album Cover or Painting
Why not take inspiration from an album cover? You could recreate the Beatles' iconic Abbey Road album cover at your local crossing point — just be careful not to get caught in the road when the lights change! Or, if art is more your thing than music, you might want to take your inspiration from a painting. That might mean a subtle homage to Rockwell’s "Freedom From Want" in celebration of Thanksgiving, or a less subtle, tongue-in-cheek re-interpretation of "Dogs Playing Poker."
If you time your photo-taking right, you can get a silhouetted shot of your family against a beautiful sky. For this shot, you’ll need to have the light behind the subject, rather than behind the photo taker, or you won’t get the silhouetted effect. If you take the time to find the right moment, the results can be absolutely stunning.
In Your Favorite Place
If there is a place that your family loves to spend time? Why not take a family picture there? It might be somewhere on a hike with a great view or somewhere mundane like on the sofa together. Either way, the significance of the place will mean that whenever you look back at that photo, it will remind you of the good times you spent there together.
Recreate an Old Classic
Perhaps there is a photo you love from when your kids were younger. Or, if you’re a grown-up kid yourself, maybe there is a photo your parents like. It might be one of you and your siblings in the bath, or burying your youngest brother up to his neck in sand, or with your faces painted like different wild animals. Whatever the setting and costumes, you can recreate the old photo with your current-day selves. All you need to do is get together with whoever was in the original photo, and find a similar location and clothes. When you take the photo, try to recreate the faces you all had in the original photo.
As simple as it sounds. Find a place with good lighting, squash your faces together, and give the camera to the person with the longest arms. This has the advantage of being one of the easiest to accomplish of the family picture ideas and does not require any advance preparation.
Let the Kids Decide
If you’ve got kids, and especially if they don’t all like having their pictures taken, then consult with them on what they’d like for the family picture. This might include holding their favorite toys, being allowed to wear their favorite clothes, or all doing silly faces. Even if you have to do a bit of wrangling as a family to work out what you’re going to do, allowing your kids to suggest family picture ideas and including them in the decision-making process will most likely make for a better picture overall.
We don't want you to feel overwhelmed by all these family picture ideas. If you spend too much time on Instagram, it’s easy to feel like everybody is taking better photos than you. However, at the end of the day, you should do what works for you and your family. That might mean a lot of elaborate dressing up, or it might just mean all going for a walk together and taking a selfie.