6 Creative Ideas for an Awesome Family Photo Session

A lot of people request candid photographs, which is a term that's become kind of amorphous.  Technically if you hired someone to photograph you and got dressed up it's not *really* candid.  So if you wanted those, you'd pretty much have to live with a photographer (who may not take pictures of your family because it feels too much like work... not that that ever happens).  Anyway, that style of playing and having fun while dressed in nice clothes is a fantastic look.  How do you achieve that?

First, there are no rules about this.  Lots of families request candid photos and end up ordering the more "posed" pictures.  The nice thing about posing is that 99.9% of professional photography (at least for families) has moved away from 1930s style posing.  Even if you are told to stand here or do that, it's still going to look awesome.  Some people call it natural posing and it is.  Very few people are so attached to candid photos that they want to look bad.  Minimally saying "turn this way a little" can do tons for the image (or at least it can for pictures of me!).

Second, if you do want candid style pictures, picking an activity is the way to go.  It's really best if the family picks the activity because if I bring bubbles and your child has a pathological fear of them, it doesn't work out too well.  You know your kids best.  You know what they love to do, what makes them laugh, what makes them smile, and what will bring out some great expressions.  Here are some ideas to spice it up.

Idea #1 Fingerpainting or something messy.  I would almost pay a family to do this because I think it's so incredibly cool.  Any takers?

This image is by Laura Winslow, you can check her work out at www.laurawinslowphotography.com

Idea #2 Going somewhere especially fun (with fun things to do) such as a fair or an amusement park.

Images by Ginette Sundin, you can check out her work at www.sundinphotography.com

 Idea #3 Eat Something Really Fun.  Who isn't happy while eating a waffle cone with sprinkles?

Idea #4 Have a tea party, blow bubbles, throw leaves or play a game you made up (this works really well for younger kids... for teenagers, not so much)

Image by Jane Johnson, you can check out her work at www.janejohnsonphotography.com

Idea #5 Keep your session time even if it's raining.  Some of my favorite photos of all time were taken in the rain.

Idea #6 Balloons.  Everything is better with balloons (and ice cream).  I love this image!  It's not really candid, but it has that playful feeling.  Doesn't it make you happy?
Photo by Michelle Turner.  You can check out her work at www.michelleturner.com

Even if you think you just want candid photos, it's still always a great idea to keep your options open.  A few semi-posed shots are easy to take and they make grandma happy. 

Over time, you'll definitely get a sense of which images you gravitate towards and it doesn't matter whether it's candid or posed.  The session is yours, so you need images that work for you and bring a smile to your face.  And the great thing about working with the same photographer over the years is that you get to know each other and the images you take together only improve with time.

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