Best family photography ideas & tips.

Family photography isn't just about capturing smiles; it’s about preserving those precious moments that tie a family together, creating cherished memories for years to come.

A family of four posing for a family photo

What makes a great family photo.

Photographing a lively group, especially one with little kids, can really test a photographer's skills. Yet, the real magic of family photography lies in capturing those genuine interactions that reflect the family's unique bond.


"Great family photos are all about capturing the authentic family dynamic," shares photographer Jenn Byrne. The best photos are those that families love to display and share—those spontaneous, joyful moments that end up on Christmas cards and take pride of place on living room walls.


How to plan a fun family photoshoot.

A successful family photoshoot starts with great planning. Chatting with the family about their expectations and understanding their vision can make all the difference. It’s about making everyone feel comfortable and capturing photos that reflect who they are.


Selecting the perfect backdrop.

Choosing the right location is key to setting the tone for your shoot. Whether it’s the golden hour in a nearby park or the comfort of the family’s own living room, each location offers unique opportunities to capture those heartfelt shots. Think about the season, the time of day, and the family’s comfort—these elements can dramatically influence the mood and outcome of your photos.


Engage in a friendly discussion with the family about where they’d feel most at ease—be it amid the natural beauty of a beach or the familiar comfort of their backyard. This not only ensures that the photos look great but also that everyone involved has a good time, making the photoshoot an enjoyable experience for all.

A family looking at their newborn together for a family photo

By embracing a more relaxed and engaging approach, you can create a fun and memorable photoshoot that captures the true essence of the family, leaving them with not just photos, but cherished memories.


Choose a location.

Choosing the right spot for your family photoshoot is about more than just finding a pretty background—it's about creating a space where every family member can feel comfortable and the photos naturally pop with life. Think about the stunning landscapes that Australia offers, from breathtaking beaches to quaint urban parks, each setting offers a unique backdrop that can add magic to your family portraits.


Keep seasons in mind—imagine capturing the vibrant hues of fall or the cheerful blossoms of spring. Each season brings its own character that can dramatically enhance your photos. However, it's crucial to consider the comfort and safety of the family. “I always take the kids’ ages into consideration when looking for a location. I live in New Mexico and that means a lot of cactus. So if my clients have small children, then I don’t recommend shooting in the desert, because I don’t want the kids to get hurt,” explains photographer Jacqueline Vega.


If you're planning to shoot in someone’s home, familiarise yourself with the space beforehand. Know where you'll set up and discuss what will appear in the background with the family. This preparation ensures the space complements the shoot and feels as natural and comfortable as possible.

A family of three posing on the couch for a family photo
A family of three posing outside for a family photo

Think about lighting.

Lighting can make or break your family photos. If shooting outdoors, aim for the golden hours of sunrise or sunset, when the light is soft and flattering. For indoor shoots, don't rely solely on natural light; enhance your setup with additional lights or reflectors to ensure you have good key light and no one is left in the shadows.


Pick a colour palette.

Choosing what the family wears is as important as choosing the location. While matching outfits might seem like a simple solution, it often leads to a uniform look that lacks personality. “Some people think that everyone has to come in the same colour of clothes, too. But to me, that just makes everyone blend together. So instead, I like to talk colour schemes and suggest some clothing ideas,” says Vega. This approach allows each family member's individuality to shine through while maintaining a cohesive look in the photos. Explore colour palettes that reflect the family’s style and the setting’s vibe, ensuring the photos are visually harmonious and full of life. For help choosing colour palettes, check out these colour palette resources and ideas

A family of four posing outside for a family photo

Tips for a memorable family photo session.

Set the tone for the shoot.

The atmosphere during the shoot can greatly influence the outcome of the photos. When working with families, you’ll encounter a mix of personalities—from bubbly children to more reserved members. "It’s important to relax because the kids are going to respond to how you’re reacting. I often try to chat with the parents and the kids before we get started to help relax everyone," shares photographer Jenn Byrne. A calm and relaxed approach helps put everyone at ease, paving the way for natural and joyful photographs.


Let the kids lead occasionally.

Capturing genuine smiles and joyful expressions can be the most challenging yet rewarding part of family photography. "I often let the kids direct the shoot because that’s what you try to capture in candid shots. If the kids aren’t happy, then the photos aren’t going to be good. So my favourite part about family photos is when kids are just being themselves," explains Byrne. Allowing children to take the lead can make for a fun session and result in authentic, spontaneous moments.

Four children being themselves on the beach for a photo

Start with your staged photos.

Every photoshoot is different, but most families want a few staged photos and a few candid ones. "I like to get those staged photos done first because kids get tired of it really quick," explains Vega. This strategy increases the likelihood of capturing a few shots with everyone looking at the camera before the energy dips. Have a few family photo poses in mind, so you can easily direct your models and ensure everyone looks relaxed and natural.

Engage the kids with creative activities.

Kids get bored and distracted quite easily, so have a few games in mind or some fun props on hand to play with. Ask parents to hoist their kids high in the air or bring some bubble wands for the little ones to play with. These elements can transform a standard photoshoot into an enjoyable experience for everyone involved, especially the little ones.

Two kids distracted by toys in order to pose for a family photo

Ensure ample storage for spontaneous moments.

The spontaneity of family dynamics means you'll need plenty of storage to capture every candid moment. Pack extra memory cards to ensure you never miss a beat. This preparation allows you to embrace the chaos of a family shoot and capture the unscripted joy that often makes for the most cherished photos.


Perfect your images with post-processing.

Achieving the perfect shot straight out of the camera is rare, especially during dynamic and unpredictable family photo shoots. However, with tools like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you elevate your photos in a way that truly brings the family's story to life. Here’s how you can transform your raw photos into polished masterpieces:


  • Fine-tune colours: Adjust the vibrancy and saturation to make the colours pop or to bring a warm, subtle tone to your family portraits.

  • Adjust lighting: Enhance underexposed shots or tone down overly bright images to balance the lighting and bring out the details in each photo.

  • Blur backgrounds: Soften distracting elements in the background to ensure the focus stays on the family, highlighting their expressions and interactions.


By mastering these post-processing techniques, you not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your photos but also encapsulate the essence of the moments captured. 


Capturing moments, creating memories.

The key to successful family photography lies in capturing genuine interactions that tell heartfelt stories. As you enhance these moments with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, remember you're not just taking photos—you're crafting memories that families will cherish forever.


Share these beautiful stories and your family photography shoot ideas on Adobe’s community forums to join a vibrant community of Australian photographers celebrating family connections. Your work not only enriches this community but also inspires others to explore the profound art of family photography, ensuring that the memories you capture today will echo through generations.



Do more with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Edit photos easily with Lightroom presets, Super Resolution, easily share photos from any device and access your projects anywhere with cloud photo storage management.

You might also be interested in…

Portrait photo of woman with freckles on black background

Creating great portrait photography.

Take a step closer to perfect portraits with tips and advice from professional photographers.

Headshot of a smiling man against a brown background

An introduction to portrait lighting.

Learn the basics of portrait lighting to bring your subject’s story to life.

Father with their child piggybacked on them looking out a window

The basics of candid photography.

Discover how to capture candid moments with advice and tips from the pros. 

Grapes, a cut orange, and glass of water on a tabletop.

The basics of photography composition.

Composition is all-important for photographers. Learn more with these tips from the pros.

Get Photoshop Lightroom.

Edit, organise, store and share photos from anywhere.

7 days free, then A$14.29/mo incl. GST