I love seeing a gorgeous family photo hanging above the mantel when I visit someone’s home, but you know what I love even more? A UNIQUE family photo hanging above the mantel! Now don’t get me wrong, traditional family photos with good posing, and coordinated outfits, and a beautiful backdrop are lovely, but there’s just something about an image that really tells you what that family is all about that does it for me. That’s why I love to incorporate personal touches into my sessions so that my clients can tell their stories through their photos. Here are some ways that you can make your family photos stand out too!

A special location

Every family has special places that hold significant meaning to them. Whether it’s a little beach that you found accidentally on a family road trip, or a campground that you visit every summer, or the backyard of your grandparent’s house, taking your photos somewhere meaningful to you gives it that little something extra. Choosing a location where your family feels comfortable is so important. When you’re comfortable your smiles are more natural, your interaction with each other is more genuine, and you just generally feel more like yourselves, and that will shine through in your photos.  If the place you choose is somewhere, you go often and have lots of memories of fun things you’ve done together as a family, that will give you plenty of ideas for ways to express yourselves in your photos that are unique to your family. Try to keep in mind the more technical aspects of a photo session location, such as light, interesting objects or views, and space to take various shots.

Unique Wardrobe

A family portrait wardrobe doesn’t have to be matching neutrals or coordinating seasonal sweaters and khakis.  If your family wears graphic tees with their favorite band, or fandom on them, then wear those! If your family enjoys dressing up, then opt for more formal wear in your photos.  If your family had awesome family costumes for Halloween this year, wear those! Who said your clothes have to be bland to look good in a photo?! Your outfit choices should represent who you are and what you like! Clothing is after all a form of self expression right? What we wear is a part of how we present ourselves to the world.  How much more important is self expression than when you’re taking a photo that will hang on the wall for years to come? Let each member of your family express who they are and what they love through their clothing choices, and you’ll have a family portrait that is sure to be outside the box and a whole lot of fun! 

Nontraditional Posing

As a photographer I love a simple pose as much as the next girl.  However, if you’re looking for something a little more unique, than the traditional front facing, everyone lined up neatly pose is probably not for you! Instead you should try some non-compositional poses for a more natural feel.  Instead of standing on the beach together, try building a sandcastle or playing in the wave together.  Instead of sitting on a blanket in the snow, try having a snowball fight or lying in a circle making snow angels with a photo taken from above.  Instead of everyone sitting neatly on the sofa in the living room, try reading a story to your kids instead or snuggling up together in a pile of arm and legs and warm hugs.  Go for a walk, throw your child in the air, or play a game together. These unplanned, uncoached moments of joy are ones that photograph beautifully and create photographic memories that you’ll cherish always.  Plus, they’ll be absolutely unique to your family, no cookie cutter portraits here! 


Here is where your creativity can really shine through.  Many photographers like to follow certain rules when it comes to composition of a photo, but sometimes the photos that are most compelling are the ones that break the rules a little bit.  Don’t worry too much about following the rule of thirds, or making sure every bit of each person is in the frame.  Try some shots where the family is in shadow and all you can see is the outline of each person against a gorgeous backdrop.  Tilt your camera so the horizon is slightly off to create an interesting background. Try different angles such as up close and looking up at the family, a birds eye view, or angles to the left and right of the subject. Try partially hidden portraits, where the kids are peeking out from behind mom and dad for an adorably unique photo. While composition rules are great guidelines for getting a good shot every time, sometimes the best shots are the ones that break the rules just a little bit.

A Fun Theme

Having a theme in mind for your family photos is a great way to capture images that will stand out. A theme will incorporate all of the things we’ve already discussed here such as location, wardrobe, posing, and composition all into one cohesive plan. For example, if your family is really into baseball, take your family portraits in a ball field, wear your favorite player’s jersey, play catch together or run the bases.  If your family is very artistically inclined you can take a photo in an art studio, wear painting smocks, and have a paint fight.  If your family enjoys cooking together, get in the kitchen, throw on some aprons, and cook a meal together.  Photos of your family doing things that you already love to do together will hold so much more meaning and truly stand out to everyone who is lucky enough to see them. 

If you’re feeling inspired to capture a fun and unique family portrait, please reach out to schedule a session with us today! I would love to talk to you about your ideas and how we can make them come to life!