The winter holidays are the time when family members get together to share a festive dinner and exchange gifts. It is also a joyful period of school holidays and long winter vacations, as well as cozy evenings surrounded by festive decorations.
It’s no wonder that December and January are magical months for photographers as they can practice family group portraiture and reportage photography literally from the comfort of their home. For you to not miss this fantastic and free opportunity, we compiled a list of family photoshoot ideas here.
What’s special about family photography?
Family photography is perhaps the most popular genre of photography among those who work with clients in private photo studios. The history of this genre is rooted in painting and sculpting. The first photographic portraits were created following the example of oil portrait painting.
The task of family photography is also close to that of a family portrait created by a painter. Such works are commissioned by someone to document the appearance of their family members throughout the years. Modern portraits inherit ancient prototypes in their aesthetics.
Modern family photographers often follow the aesthetics of Roman sculptural portraits and Renaissance painting composition rules.
What makes a family portrait different from a traditional portrait? There are no clear distinctions between these types of images, however, family photos usually depict two or more people that have some family ties with each other.
If you are looking to delve deeper into the history of family portraiture and find inspiration in traditional family portraiture, we recommend looking for photos of the Royal Family of Great Britain or Sweden. It is interesting to know that, like their pictorial prototypes, such photos are filled with deep symbolism.
Family photo ideas: Compositions
Rule of thirds
Best for — small family groups
This time-tested rule can help you make family portraits appealing if you are photographing a small number of people or shooting a family during some dynamic activity (like playing with snowballs). Divide your shot into thirds horizontally and vertically, and make sure that important objects (for example, the family member you want to emphasize) is at the intersection of the lines.
Best for — big family groups
Centered composition works great for portraits of large families. All you need is to make sure there are as many people on the right side of the frame as on the left. Horizontal family portraits work best. However, if you need to photograph up to six people, opt for vertical orientation.
We recommend that you do some preparations before your big family photoshoot. Divide people into several groups and arrange them in rows in front of the camera. The smallest family members (children) should be in the first row. People with closer family ties (husbands and wives) should stand side by side.
Best for — dynamic family photoshoots (big family groups)
A centered composition isn’t the only way to make your shot look balanced and pleasing to the eye. If you need to photograph a family in action, try to find angles in which the objects in the frame balance each other. This means that you could draw an imaginary axis of symmetry over your frame and both parts of the frame would be balanced.
This technique helps to achieve an intriguing depth of the frame. You can compensate for the large figure of one family member in the foreground with a few small figures in the background on the opposite side of the frame.
Best for — dynamic family photoshoots (small and medium family groups)
What is grave in your photo and what is secondary? If you answer this question before looking through the viewfinder, your chances of a successful family shot will be greatly improved. For example, a child could be the main character of your photoshoot. In this case, all other family members may be blurred and not fully shown in the frame (only arms and legs, blurry smiling faces in the background).
Family photo outfit ideas
Compliment color pallets and contacts
Why — to emphasize equality
The all-time best option is to use color triads to match the outfit for your models. Saturated complementary colors tend to appear in contrast to each other. This gives you a chance to make all of your models equally important in the shot.
An example of a Christmas color triad: green, red, and blue. You can also use other color harmony rules (complementary colors, the square rule, monochromatic harmony, analogous colors etc.). Use Adobe color wheel to find your palette option.
Same colors and pattern, different shades
Why — to emphasize unity
If you want to emphasize the strength of family ties, as well as how similar members of the same family are to each other, work with different shades of the same color. Such clothes will turn the family into a cohesive whole in your photo. You can also use outfits with the same patterns (checked fabric).
Highlight personality through outfits
Why — to depict the uniqueness of every family member
Ask family members to choose clothes that convey their attitudes, tastes, and moods. An additional requirement: in such clothes, they should feel natural and relaxed. This approach will help you to make your shot authentic and you could also capture genuine emotions during your family photoshoot, as your models will feel comfortable and really confident.
Why — to have fun
Winter holidays are about noisy parties, carnivals, and masquerades. Why not offer your family some themed costumes? For example, they can all choose ugly Christmas sweaters, dress up as the characters of their favorite fairy tale or movie, or, conversely, choose an official dress code with evening dresses and tuxedos.
Find more amazing family photoshoot ideas here ‘Holiday Photo Shoot Ideas and Inspiration From Depositphotos’.
Family Christmas photo ideas: Locations
The main thing in family photoshoots is the family, so the photographer’s task is to choose a location that will help family members reveal their characters and feel relaxed. For this reason, many photographers choose to shoot at home.
The problem with shooting at home is that it is difficult to properly adjust the light and achieve variety in shooting angles there. And here is a list of both indoor and outdoor locations for a wintertime family photoshoot:
- Spacious room at home (example: a bright living room with a fireplace and a Christmas tree)
- Snowy park, river, or lake
- By a Christmas tree or other holiday symbols
- Cozy city cafe
- Street decorated with festive lights
- City observation deck
- Christmas market (unfortunately impossible location this year)
- Photo studio with themed decor
When choosing a place for a family photoshoot, consider factors such as the potential of your location to reveal the mood of your photoshoot and make its participants more expressive.
The quality of your family photos is also influenced by factors such as the type of lighting and the variety of shooting angles you can use. Therefore, we recommend using a tripod, stand-alone flashes, and reflectors for a home photoshoot. All of this will also come in handy if you shoot outdoors!
And the main rule is: choose locations in which your heroes will be comfortable. Sincere emotions on their faces are the main element that makes your family photo albums unique and precious.
Read this article to explore more photoshoot locations ‘Winter Photography Ideas to Make The Most of The Season’.
Winter is a great time to capture all of your relatives for a future family album, as well as fill your portfolio with thematic shots. In this article, we have shared with you some family photoshoot tips that many Depositphotos contributors follow. Use them if you are taking your first steps in family portrait photography and break the rules if you want to experiment with your ideas.
And do not forget that winter holidays give you the opportunity not only for great photoshoots, but also to enjoy the holiday atmosphere and share it with people who are important to you. Therefore, we wish for you to be on both sides of the camera this season!
Other articles to get ready for Christmas:
Business and marketing
Depositphotos Blog Digest
Join a community of 160,000 monthly readers who are obsessed with
amazing visuals, useful tips, and great stories