Family Portraits: Making It Efficient and Fun

This week I have gotten a chance to photograph a great family portrait. To be honest, this family was the very first BIG official family portrait I have ever taken. I was really nervous and excited all at the same time. I had a photoshoot last year, but that was only a family of 3. This one consisted of the grandparents and two full families filled with young and energetic kids.


I think the biggest challenge for me for this shoot was staying focused. One of my biggest problems whenever having a photoshoot was my time. I typically spend about 3 hours per shoot and it can get really tiring for both me and my clients. I wanted to really focus and be more effective with my time management, especially with shooting such a big family!


So this was my game plan:

  • Figure out my goal time: 2 hours for the whole shoot.


  • Knowing my clients: Prior to the photoshoot, I asked the ages and the names of all the family members. This is great in knowing what to expect and to do a mental prep of how I will interact with them, most especially the kids!


  • Setting up my gear and knowing my location. I was very familiar with the location that my client chose, which was at the beautiful campus of University of Miami. I know that there would be lots of greenery (so I suggested that the family doesn’t wear dark green). I have to prepare to shoot indoors, because there’s shower storms around the area. I prepared my camera bag with extra batteries, lenses (Canon 50mm f1.8, 24mm f2.8 and 28-135mm f3.5-5.6), grab filters and my reflector. I also begged my little brother to come and assist me with the photoshoot (which was a great help!). There were some great banyan trees that allowed for some majestic lighting, which almost looked like a spotlight on the family. I also loved the ever-abundant amount of palm trees in Florida and green grass!


  • Make a list of poses. I asked my client what type of pictures or poses are they looking for during the shoot. I listed them down along with a couple of poses that I had in mind. I made a checklist and approximating the time per pose. (Example: Grandparents and the grandkids – 15 minutes, Kids’ headshots – 15 minutes… etc.). I made sure that my auto-focus was also on when taking photos with the kids, especially headshots! After a smiling pose, there’s only a small chance of time where you can grab a laughing or silly pose!

DFNPS 039  DFNPS 041 DFNPS 040 DFNPS 030

  • Be open and adapt well. By allowing changes to happen, I don’t let myself get thrown off with the time. No one really knows what will happen at the shoot. During the session, I really went with the flow. Towards the middle of the photoshoot, I sensed that my clients (and myself) were getting tired and sweaty. I told the family that we can take a 10 minute break and have snack time and cool off inside one of the buildings. That break was much needed and it made everyone happy. I also needed that break to just “calm down” and to rejuvenate my mind to allow my creativity to flow in. Suggestions from my brother and the parents were also a great way to make this photoshoot efficient. I think that the most important thing in any photoshoot is listening to your clients. In the end, it’s not what looks good to the photographer. What I look for is to make sure that everyone (even the kids!) enjoyed their time at the photoshoot and that they go home with a great experience. I also show my clients some photos that I take throughout the shoot, to give them updates and progress. Again, it’s never my photoshoot, it’s always the client’s. 🙂


Overall, I was really happy with the photos that I had. I ended up only using my Canon EF 28-125mm lens and a reflector. I’m still looking around for a good prime or zoom lens to replace my nifty fifty (the autofocus is acting up on me and it’s not as fast as when I first purchased it). I edited these photos and fixed up my colors and lighting using Apeture. As always, there’s room for improvement in both how I handled the photoshoot, interacted with my clients, managed my time and gear and edited the photos. I had a great time with the beautiful family and taking their family photos! A big plus for me is getting to hang out with my little brother who is turning 18 tomorrow!


“Capturing love, life and everything in between.”


Questions, Comments, Concerns: Any tips on shooting a family portrait or making photoshoots more time efficient? Any lenses or cameras that you suggest? Any other thoughts about this post? Leave your comments down below! Good night! 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s