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In This Family Portrait Tutorial You’ll Discover the Key to Capturing Natural & Authentic Moments That Your Clients will Love!

One of the best ways to set your photos apart is to grow in your ability to capture authentic connection in your family sessions. While traditional, posed portraits are fine, there is something unique and inspiring about photos that capture emotion and relationships in a real and tangible way. This isn’t always easy to do, however, so today we are giving your three tips to capture emotion and connection in your family sessions.

Family Portrait Tutorial

Set the Expectations

Don’t be afraid to take the lead in setting the expectations for your clients from the very beginning. By communicating with your clients about your style, you are setting the expectation for what their images with your will look like. Here are two ways you can most easily communicate your style:

Show it in your work: One of the easiest ways to begin shaping your client’s expectations is by showing what you want to shoot. Show this style on your website, on your blog, social media, etc. Why? Because what your clients see from you is what they are going to come to expect when they hire you. Are you wanting to do more family sessions that focus on connection, but all you have so far are super traditional posed images? Do a model call. Find a family and give them a deeply discounted session, and explain to them your goals. Use that session to gain images that show the connection and emotion that you are wanting to shoot more of.

Discuss it in your client preparation: Everything in your communication with your clients leading up to the session can be used to build the expectation that you are wanting to capture authentic images of them together. Prepare a session guide or a FAQ page for your clients that builds in text about what they expect during their time with you. When clients inquire with you, express that this will be a time for them to play and enjoy one another and that you love capturing unique and candid moments. And when they arrive at the session, remind them of these things again. Remind them that they don’t always have to be looking at you, and that you will guide them. This will help take the edge off and gives them the freedom to just enjoy being together without worrying that you need them to be doing something different.

Family Portrait Tutorial: tips to capture emotion

Make them Comfortable

One of the biggest reasons for stiff photos that lack in connection is because the family doesn’t know what to do and they feel uncomfortable. Setting the expectations ahead of time will help tremendously with this, but you can also help ease them into a relaxed and candid session with a few pointers. Don’t be afraid to remind them again that you WILL get some nice, posed shots of everyone looking at the camera, but that there will also be times you will ask them to just play together and pretend you aren’t there. Then, give them something to do.

Having a few prompts on hand will ensure that you have a few ways to lead them into interaction with one another while still letting them connect in a natural way. Some of my favorites are asking the parents to whisper quietly with the kids about something they are proud of them for doing lately, or asking the kids to tell mom or dad one thing they love most about them. I also use fun and silly prompts to encourage laughter and play. I always get a pretty good reaction when I tell the family to pretend they just won a trip to Disneyland or the lottery, and even asking them to play a fun game together makes for cute photos and authentic smiles.

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Look for the “In Betweens”

One of my favorite things to do when I’m on a family session is to look for what I like to call “the in-betweens.” Look for the in between moments, not just the big ones. Always keep your camera ready, and wait for the moments that others may miss. For example, getting the shot of Dad and his little girl is good, but don’t forget about the small moment right after that where he pulls her in for a quick hug.

Or this family shot, where they thought I was still getting my camera ready, and snapped a pic as the little girl was snuggling in to her daddy.

tips to capture emotion

Also keep your eye out for the details. Try to see from a unique vantage point, or to see the little things that would otherwise be so easily missed.

One of the most important things is to focus on the experience for the family and not so much on “getting the right photos.” The very best images are the ones where you guide the family into genuine interaction, and then you just sit back and capture them as they are. With these tips to capture more emotion and connection, you will find a balance of guiding them into positioning that is flattering, leading or prompting them into genuine interaction, and just observing and waiting to take the shot. When you have prepared your clients well and communicated effectively to make them comfortable, they will be better able to just settle into this time and relax, allowing you to capture amazing photos that they will always cherish.

Looking for more tips on Family Photography? Check out these tutorials!

Unlocking Authentic Expressions from Kids in Your Family Sessions
6 Simple Family Posing Tips for the Photographer
Photo Session Jitters: 3 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before a Session