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Creative Photo Ideas for Large Families

Jennifer L. Betts
Portrait of large family

Whether you have a generational photo or just a large family, getting everyone in the picture can be challenging. However, there are several unique photo ideas and tips you can try for making everyone in your family stand out.

Get Everyone In (and in Focus)

When you have families larger than six or multiple generations in one photo, it can take a bit of creativity to get everyone in the frame. There are a few things you can do to ensure the photo looks natural and everyone isn't squished.

  • If everyone is standing, it is best to put the taller people in the back and the kids in front. This way, you will see everyone's face.
  • When using a couch or other prop, have the older individuals sitting, the older kids standing and any younger ones sitting on laps. This adds interest and ensures everyone can be seen.
  • If you are doing a multigenerational photo, group the people by family and stagger them within your depth of field (meaning more people will be in focus).
  • If possible when shooting indoors, try to use a wide-angle lens to ensure you will see every face.
  • Shoot outdoors in a neutral, open location. The background won't overpower the individuals and an open space allows for more depth to get everyone in.
  • To keep all the faces in focus, use an aperture setting of f/8 or higher, which gives you a larger depth of field. It can also be helpful to take the picture from farther away to ensure you have a larger focal plane.

Go Crazy and Be Free

When you are taking a group shot, it is common sense to have your subjects wear solid colors and coordinate. However, sometimes you have to get a little crazy to let the personality of the family truly shine.

Use the Season

If you have a shoot with older or even younger kids, having them play during the shoot can really get some great shots.

  • Try having a whole family engaged in a snowball fight in the winter. All you have to do is stand back and watch the action fly.
  • If you are doing a fall shoot, you can't get any better than allowing them to play in the leaves; the joy on their faces will shine through your shoot.
Family in snowball fight

Add Props

Sometimes props can bring out a whole new level in a large family or multi-generational shoot. Allow them to get creative.

  • Add sparklers or hats to a fun Fourth of July shoot.
  • If you have a country family, ask everyone to wear cowboy hats and boots.
  • Include an antique vehicle or something else that really defines the family.
  • The background can also work as a prop, like having it in a special place the family frequents.
Family wearing cowboy hats and boots

Strike a Pose

Sometimes a little fun is all you need to elevate a stoic family portrait into something they will enjoy for years to come.

  • Instead of having everyone smile, allow the family to get silly. This is especially true for families with lots of children. Allow them to lead the pose and play with it.
  • If you are shooting indoors, let the family get casual. Maybe unbutton a few buttons or take off their shoes. This adds a more natural feel to the photograph.
  • Capture all the moments. Some unscripted moments of your family playing around can be the best shots.
  • Think of creative poses like having the little kids on the shoulders of others. You might also try a pose of the family jumping or holding hands from biggest to smallest.
Portrait of large family holding hands

Play With Vantage Point

While having an image straight on might be what you are looking for, there are some advantages to trying different vantage points. For example, create the image with a bird's-eye view using a drone. You might also try shooting up at the family from below. Just remember shooting from below can make some individuals look unfavorable.

Vantage point from above portrait

Alter Your Focus

While it might be important that everyone is in focus for some images, this isn't always true for large family shots. Have some fun and add some much needed character to your image.

  • Try putting the kids in the front and the adults a bit behind them. You can then focus in on the kids while the adults are out of focus in the background.
  • If grandparents are included, put them in the front holding hands in focus, while their children and grandchildren are behind them out of focus.
  • For a large family with lots of kids, you might just have the parents holding hands in focus with all their children in the background.
Portrait of family in front yard

Experiment With Your Shots

Large family shots can add some unwanted stress for some photographers but having fun with it and incorporating a little silliness or play can really bring out their personality. There are also some camera techniques and poses that you can try to boost your creativity.

Creative Photo Ideas for Large Families