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7 Tips for Great Outdoor Family Photography

Spring is here and it’s the perfect time to get the kids outside and showcase your growing family with some nice portraits. Flowers are starting to bloom and the trees are finally turning green. Take advantage of this beautiful backdrop nature provides!

Here are some tips to help you capture outstanding outdoor family photography.


1. Choose a location with lots of room to roam

Kids love to run around, and happy kids make for better photos. Don’t choose a place where the kids aren’t allowed to run on the grass, touch things or have a lot of rules to follow. Let the kids explore a little bit, find places that they enjoy and keep their interest, and take advantage of these moments. Choosing a spacious location also helps to keep random people from getting in your photos because you can move to the less crowded spots.

2. Start with your posed portraits

Kids get dirty fast and their attention spans are short. We’ve seen them run through sprinklers, skin knees and mess up their hair climbing trees within minutes of arriving and before a single photo has been taken. Get the whole family together from the outset to guarantee at least a few hang-on-your-wall-worthy photos. Don’t be afraid to bribe the kids with play time if they can make a nice smile in the beginning.

3. Bring a blanket

Getting a shot of the family lying down can be a really great pose, but it’s helpful if they’re comfortable/not getting dirty. Bring a blanket with you or ask the family to bring something from home that they can lay down on. Choose a blanket with minimal patterns and solid colors if possible to avoid drawing attention away from your subjects.


4. Have a distraction

Kids can often get antsy or bored while taking photos. Ask families with young children to bring toys, drinks and snacks. A set of cones for tag or a ball to kick around can bring out some genuine smiles and fun action shots. The parents are going to know best what keeps their kid’s attention, so make sure to consult with them. Snacks and drinks prevent premature meltdowns and keep everyone hydrated on hot days. For very young children, holding a toy while you are shooting or having someone else help turn their attention toward the camera can be the only way to get a child to take a good photo.

5. Be patient

If you are parent, you know that working with children requires some patience. Do not expect the kids to respect your schedule. Allow time for breaks for eating, crying, exploring… and for them to just be kids.

6. Watch your shutter speed

Shooting outdoors means the light changes quickly, and it’s important to make sure you’re capturing family portraits without too much motion blur. In general, I like to shoot at 1/250 second or higher. This may mean adjusting your ISO. Kids fidget and move all the time (as do parents), but with enough sunlight, you shouldn’t need anything too much adjusting to make sure you get crisp, sharp photos.

7. Posing

Give both the kids and parents very specific directions. If you can, make it into a challenge for the kids. If it turns into a game, and they think it is fun, they will be more likely to keep their attention focused on what they need to accomplish.

Do you have any other tips for photographing families outdoors?

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I’m going to take my niece for a pictures outdoor to a nature preserve. What do you rec for ISO, shutter speed and AP?


Thanks these tips will be helpful! What is the best mode to shoot outdoors?

Todd Stauffer

I like how you said that having a schedule for family photos goes out the window when little kids are involved. It’s nice to know that you should plan on not planning for that kind of thing. We want to do some family photos soon and we will count on having a pretty rough schedule that is super flexible.

Rosie Beckett

I am planning to hire a family photographer to take pictures of our family as a present for my Mom’s birthday, so I am glad that I found these tips for picture taking! You make a great point that you should choose an area that has a lot of open space so that the kids can run around when their pictures are not being taken. Also, I will make sure to ask our photographer to give us specific instructions for the best poses and styles for the pictures.


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