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6 Large Family Photo Ideas To Try

By Courtney Leiva
6 Large Family Photo Ideas To Try

Credit: Kari Bjorn

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Whether blowing out birthday candles or embracing long-lost cousins, family photos serve as timeless keepsakes of life's precious moments.

But let's face it — getting kids (especially the little ones) to pose for those picture-perfect shots isn't always easy. Their wiggles and giggles can turn into tears and tantrums, leaving you contemplating whether to use candy or toys to bargain.  

Despite the chaos, achieving a flawless family portrait is achievable. To help you achieve the perfect shot, we’ve enlisted a group of professional photographers to curate a list of helpful tips and tricks — including six charming and unique family photos the whole clan will love.  

Why are family photos important?

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Family photos do more than freeze moments in time. For photographer Helen Tansey, they have a profound impact on our lives. "Family pictures are special because they capture happy moments with loved ones," Tansey tells Today's Parent.

"When I take a photo of a family, I'm not just snapping shots — I'm making memories that will be cherished by many for a long time."

Are there different types of family photos? 

Most family photos capture a heartwarming feel, but there are various photo styles you can choose from, including lifestyle, documentary and editorial — each with its own approach. 

"Some photographers take traditional photos in a studio where everyone is arranged perfectly and looks at the camera," explains photographer Brit Nicole.

"My style is different — it's more relaxed and natural. I focus on capturing candid moments that show off each person's unique personality. Instead of making kids sit still and smile on command, I let them play and enjoy themselves. That way, the photos reflect a genuine family moment."

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How do you pose a large family for a photo?

Nicole Ettenhofer, Vice President of Growth & Strategy for George Street Photo & Video, says there are several ways to position families to get the perfect family shot.

"Place family members in a good formation where everyone can be seen clearly. Use natural and flattering poses to capture the group's essence, guide individuals for their best looks, and keep a happy and relaxed atmosphere with some humor," Ettenhofer tells Today's Parent.

What kind of poses should a family do for a photo?

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If you're wondering what poses to strike in your next family photo, seasoned photographer Alexandria Mooney suggests choosing natural poses to capture the affection shared within the family. She recommends opting for photo poses that bring family members close together, like holding hands or wrapping arms around each other, to show off your familial bond.

How should a large family dress for a photo?

When choosing your outfit for a family photo, Tansey recommends prioritizing comfortable clothes that reflect your style. "I like to capture moments that highlight each person's special personality and style by selecting outfits that enhance their look in photos instead of taking away from it."

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However, if you're thinking about incorporating color into your family shot, Arkansas photographer Kari Bjorn, recommends going for a simple palette.

"Instead of using bright or busy colors, logos, or intricate patterns, stick to three colors. Choose one bright, muted, and dark color," he emphasizes. "For example, you could try combinations like red, off-white, and navy, or orange, mustard, and navy. Another nice mix could be pink, light brown, and hunter-green." 

How do you keep kids entertained during a family photo?

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The secret to a successful group photo with young kids? Keeping things lively and enjoyable. "One trick I like to use is taking a few pictures and then asking the group to make funny faces when I say three," says Tansey.

"This makes everyone genuinely smile and laugh, and it helps create a fun and laid-back vibe where everyone can relax and enjoy themselves."

Another approach? Playing games as the photoshoot ensues. "The 'Red Light/Green Light' game works wonders to get amazing photos of kids running or laughing," says Bjorn. "You set them up 30 to 40 feet away and tell them they can only run towards you when the camera is facing away."

However, if you want to simplify family photo sessions, don't be scared to employ the tried-and-true bribery tactic. "I think bribes work incredibly well as a father of two little ones and as a photographer," he adds. 

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Seven Family Photo Ideas

Holiday Photo Idea 

Holiday Photo Idea, large family photo ideas Canva/Getty
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For Bjorn, holiday cards are among the best ideas for large family photos because they capture the magic of the season for years to come.

"Every Christmas, my grandparents would host a family dinner on Christmas Day, and every year, all of the grandchildren were set up on the stairs in the house for a group photo. The youngest sat at the bottom and the oldest at the top," he shares with Today's Parent.

"This was often at the end of the gathering, and in most of the photos, someone is missing a sock, wearing one of Grandpa's hats, or slowly getting over a sugar rush tantrum with tears still in their eyes! They're all goofy and unique in their way, but a perfect example of documenting a family's legacy and growth."

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Staircase Photo Idea 

Staircase Photo Idea, large family photo ideas Canva/Getty

You don't need to be a famous family photographer to master this fun picture concept. Odi Caspi, the founder of Photographer For Hire, says it's simple to do and offers plenty of room for creativity — all you need is a good staircase!

"A great way to gather a large family or group together is to sit on a set of stairs. It's more informal than all sitting on chairs and has a fun element," he explains.

"You can organize this photo by having immediate family members sit together or create a special picture with grandparents in the middle and everyone else around them, or with each generation on a different step." 

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Golden Hour Photo Idea 

Golden Hour Photo Idea, large family photo ideas Canva/Getty

Looking to capture a family photo with with a special touch of lighting? Take inspiration from Alex Perelmuter, professional photographer and videographer at New Jersey Videography, and try this sunset photo concept. 

"Schedule the photo shoot at a lakeside park or scenic waterfront during the golden hour (shortly before sunset) to take advantage of the soft, flattering light and warm tones," says Perelmuter. "This magical hour lends a timeless quality to the images and minimizes harsh shadows."

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Grandma and Grandpa's House Photo Idea

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Grandma and Grandpa's House Photo Idea, large family photo ideas Canva/Getty

If you are looking for a large family portrait to cherish for years to come, Nicole recommends using Grandma and Grandpa's house as the photo's focal point — especially if it has a generational history and holds significant meaning for the family. 

A shot where they all grew up is unequivocally special. "It also serves as a great big group photo idea while being full of purpose and legacy-driven," adds Nicole.

Back to School/Fall Photo Idea 

Back to School/Fall Photo Idea, large family photo ideas Canva/Getty
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For Shoott founders Jennifer Yeh and Jennifer Tsay, back-to-school and fall-themed photo shoots are an excellent way to capture memorable family photos. "These pictures are ideal for preserving significant family moments and the beauty of autumn foliage," they explain.

To help your fall photos pop, Yeh and Tsay suggest choosing photos incorporating fall foliage in the background or showcasing children playing and interacting with fall elements such as leaves, pumpkins, or apples. What's more, using props like school attire, grade-level signs, and flannel blankets adds interest to your photoshoot. 

Summer Vacation Photo Idea 

Summer Vacation Photo Idea, large family photo ideas Canva/Getty

Summer vacation photos are not only about preserving memories and exploring new locations, but they reveal the unique personalities of each family member at that moment in time.

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According to Yeh and Tsay, incorporating lots of movement into vacation photos, such as running, jumping, and playing, can help them stand out. This approach not only makes the shoot enjoyable for the kids but captures their personalities. 

Step Stool Photo Idea 

Bjorn suggests that step stools can elevate family photos by introducing varied heights, leading to more engaging compositions.

He advises, "Position the parents and newborn on the ground, surrounded by their children. Then, use small step stools to arrange the extended family in a circle around them. Finally, with a taller step stool, take an overhead shot of the family gazing at the newborn." 

Seated Group Photo Idea 

Bjorn suggests this unique photo idea to help capture people's faces more clearly: have everyone sit on the ground, encircling the key figures like parents or grandparents, and take the shot from above.

"This eliminates the horizon and sky, focusing solely on the faces," he says. "Taking photos of standing groups often results in cluttered backgrounds with horizon lines, trees, and sunsets. By shooting from above, these distractions are removed, emphasizing the faces. Plus, seated children are usually more cooperative."

FAQs

How can we ensure everyone is looking at the camera in large group photos?

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If you're aiming to get everyone's attention for a photo, Caspi suggests making it clear to your group that you need them to look at the camera.

"Tell them exactly where to look—not at you, but straight into the camera lens," he shared with Today's Parent. "Also, let them know you'll give a countdown or a specific word to cue them when it's time to look."

He adds a special note for when kids or anyone needing more guidance is involved: consider using a noisemaker to grab their attention right when you need it.

What are some indoor locations that work well for large family photo sessions?

Perelmuter mentions that even though outdoor photos show nature's beauty and offer plenty of natural light, there are some great indoor spots for big family photo shoots.

"The familiarity and comfort of a living room or family room make it an excellent choice for capturing relaxed and intimate family portraits," he explains. "Arrange furniture to create an aesthetically pleasing backdrop, and utilize natural light from windows whenever possible."

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You can also use a library or study with bookshelves as the location of your photos. "A cozy seating and warm lighting can create a sophisticated and timeless backdrop for family photos," Perelmuter says. "Arrange family members amidst the books and furniture, adding personal touches like family heirlooms or favorite novels for added character." 

How can we involve pets in a large family photo shoot? Family photo poses 

Incorporating pets into family photo sessions adds a personal touch, as pets are cherished family members. Caspi suggests a foolproof method for capturing the perfect family and pet portrait: "First, arrange the human subjects, ensuring they're well-positioned, aware of the lighting, and briefed on the sequence of events, including when to look at the camera. Introduce the pet at the very last moment to significantly boost the likelihood of snapping an excellent photo of the entire group."

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