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How to Take a Family Portrait

Take a family portrait both as a keepsake and as an excuse to get everyone together.


  • Step 1: Analyze the group Quickly analyze the group. Do a mental lineup according to family ties, height, age, and affiliations.
  • Step 2: Choose location Choose your location and backdrop, either in a cozy area or outside.
  • TIP: If you don’t have a professional lighting system, try to select a location that maximizes natural, even light.
  • Step 3: Arrange the family Arrange the family. Place immediate family members together, with children near their parents. Place the oldest toward the center. Place pets last.
  • TIP: If the children are older and married, place the children between their natural parents and their own spouse.
  • Step 4: Set up lights If you’re using lights, set them up and align them to your liking.
  • TIP: If you can, bounce the flash off the ceiling to get the softest, most diffused light possible.
  • Step 5: Place camera on tripod Place your camera on the tripod.
  • Step 6: Set up camera Select the appropriate film, aperture, and shutter speed that’s appropriate for your shooting conditions.
  • Step 7: Compose your shot Compose your shot, fitting the entire family within the frame edges.
  • TIP: A wider angle lens will allow you to squeeze in more family members, but be prepared for a little distortion at the edges of the frame.
  • Step 8: Meter on the subjects Using either your in-camera light meter or handheld light meter, meter on the subjects.
  • TIP: Set your camera on its self-timer or use a shutter release trigger to help avoid camera shake.
  • Step 9: Take as many shots are you can Take as many shots as you possibly can before everyone loses their patience and gets fidgety.
  • FACT: The Family Portrait is the name given to a picture of the Solar System taken by the Voyage 1 spacecraft.

You Will Need

  • A large group of family members
  • A camera
  • A tripod
  • A large space
  • Props of varying heights such as a couch
  • fireplace
  • or a stairwell
  • Extra fill lighting
  • Lighting system (optional) (optional) (optional)

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