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By Liss Scott

Eight tips for taking family portraits

Whether you are a professional photographer or a do-it-yourself kind of person, taking family portraits can be a challenge. Here are eight tips to help things go smoothly for this shoot.

Know your family

The personality of the family should shine through in their portraits. Are they serious? Playful? Eccentric? Photographers, take some time to communicate with the family members and learn this information. Family members, be honest about this! You will be much happier with the results of your shoot if the pictures actually reflect your family and its uniqueness.

Choose a location

Now that you know what qualities you would like to stand out about the family in question, pick a place to shoot. Ideally the location will go along with the personality of the family but some families will have a firm attachment to shooting in a particular place, and that is perfectly okay. The most important thing here is that the family is happy and comfortable where they are.

Choose a wardrobe

While it is not necessary for everyone to be wearing the exact same thing, having a theme or a color scheme is generally accepted as a good idea. This goes back to the personality of the family. Do they highly value individualism? A color scheme may not be their thing, and they may dismiss the matching wardrobe all together. Do they have an interest in the same sports team? They might want to reflect that by all wearing jerseys. Bearing all this in mind, try to make the wardrobe complement the location. After all, who wants to wear a full-on suit to a ninety-degree beach?

Make use of accessories

Accessories are not for everyone but they should not be dismissed right away. Maybe a child has a stuffed animal they never go anywhere without — why not include that in the picture? Other ideas include fun things like feather boas or large costume jewelry. More options include things like using large, empty picture frames for everyone to pose within.

Work within a time frame

Your family is not going to want to be saying "cheese" for hours on end. Try to keep the shoot to an hour or two, aiming toward the shorter side if there are small children involved.

Bring candy for the kids

Continuing the talk on small children, try bringing a treat for them in case things start going south. Nothing puts a smile on a child's face like their favorite candy.

Be patient

Not everything is going to go your way. People may become irate, the weather may not cooperate, or the family dog might have to take care of some business right when everything seems perfect. Things happen.

Use the tripod sparingly

Tripods are great for group shots, especially if you are photographing your own family and want to be included in the picture. But don't be afraid to get up close with a camera and get individual shots; it will add all kinds of personality.

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