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7 Ways to Capture Natural Interactions in Family Photos

Have you ever looked at those sweet family photos where the family is laughing or playing with each other and they just look so perfect and natural in front of the camera.  It’s almost like they didn’t even know someone was taking their picture. It seems like moments like this would be super easy to capture when taking photos at a family photo sessions right? Well, no. You can’t just say “Ok everyone, just act natural and pretend I’m not here”. Think about that for a second. What would you do with those instructions? Probably feel a little uncomfortable and not know what to do. The photos would look awkward instead of fun and candid.

So how do you capture those sweet candid moments? Well, it does take a little posing on your part. Watch or read below to learn how to pose families to capture natural interactions.


1. Start Posed

Ok, so this kinda contradicts the natural interactions, but trust me, it helps for a great starting point. Easing the family into the photo session is a great way to start. Take control of the pose and the frame. This puts you in charge and sets you up for success. Start by posing the family in a very basic, simple way. This could be just a straight line or simple staggers.

Family of five portrait in Phoniex, AZ mountains award winning magazine cover

2. Give the kids simple commands

Next, after you’ve taken a few simple posed shots, with the family still in the same place you can cue one or some of the kids to do things. This especially works great with younger kids. For example, tell the kids, ok on the count of three I want you to ___________ (Fill in that blank with: hug mom, tickle dad, high five each other, kiss mom, etc.)? This starts to relax the kids and family and will probably get you some pretty cute shots as well!Mother and Daughter Portrait taken in Phoneix AZ near Scorpion Gulch at sunsetSibiling photogrpahy of 4 kids in Scottsdale at the McDowell Mountain Preserve

3. Make a Game

This doesn’t have to be super complicated. Think of some basic games (depending on the age of the children) It could be duck duck goose, ring around the Rosie, a running race, Simon says. Set the family up in a nicely lit area and ask them to play a short game of your choice.Step back and start taking shots of the game in action! ( For more games to play during a family session read 7 Games to Play At A Family Portrait Session)Fun family portrait by Best Phoenix family photogrpaher

4. Share a secret

This works great when the family is sitting. Place in a nice location while sitting. This might be on a blanket or bench. You can cue one of the family members to share a secret with the other. If the kids are a little older, you could also prompt a game of telephone and see if they can take a secret through the whole family.Sisters Photography in North Phoneix sharing secrets with each other

5. Group hug

While you have the whole family sitting still, it’s time to prompt a group hug. I like putting dad in charge of this one and asking him to hug his family in nice and tight. Make sure to move around the group hug quickly to get shots from all angles.

Fun family photo taken in the desert near Ahwatukee, AZ

6. Have them go for a stroll

Ask the family to take a brisk walk together. Choose an end point and have them walk either holding hands (or not) Prompt them to talk about their favorite part of the session as they walk away from you (or towards you).Father and daughter walk into the sunset in beautiful photograph at Gateway Trail head in Scottsdale, AZ

7. Capture in between moments

All throughout the session, as you take short breaks or walk to other areas, you should be watching for those in between moments that are truly candid. When you see something natural, be aware and ready to capture the hidden gems you might not have looked for otherwise!

I truly hope this helped give you some inspiration in capturing natural interactions with families for the next time you have a family photo session.

To learn 9 Simple ways to Pose Large Families in Portraits, read here! Do you have a trick you like to use to capture natural interactions with family members. Let us know in a comment below.

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  • Lauren MartinMay 17, 2021 - 8:17 pm

    Thank you for these tips. I love the game suggestion, it sounds fun and also will result to amazing candid photos. ReplyCancel

  • RoseyDecember 20, 2019 - 9:13 pm

    Great tips!! Thank you for sharing!! ReplyCancel

  • CrystalSeptember 27, 2017 - 6:14 am

    Great checklist.!. Thanks so much for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • ColleenSeptember 18, 2017 - 4:13 pm

    I so needed this! Thanks Emily!ReplyCancel

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