How To Take Great Family Photos

beautiful family photos

Congrats to Kat @ Rose Prairie Quilts for winning the iPhone or Canon DSLR giveaway! Email your address and your pick and I’ll send it right out!

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I have a confession to make.  We have never had a professional family portrait taken. :-(  Yep, in the 25 years we’ve been married….not one.  I’m not proud of that fact. Especially when I see the beautiful family photos of the One Good Thing By Jillee “Team” that I am going to introduce to you today. (More on that in a minute.)

BUT….I have committed to rectifying the situation this month! I have warned the kids and hubster it’s happening and now that I have told all of you…I’m hoping you will hold me to it! I’m turning over a new leaf. :-)

Anyway, the whole family photo thing got me thinking about how the holidays generally mean a whole lot of picture-taking going on!

Since I am married to a professional videographer and work with the talented ladies over at Small Fry Blog who deliver stunning images on their blog everyday…I decided to ask them to share their best advice for taking great family photos this holiday season.

From the ladies at Small Fry Blog4 tips for shooting beautiful pictures:

1. Keep it alive. Let personalities shine, the best photos are rarely posed! Especially for children, candid is key and will capture a feeling better than any forced smile will do.

2. Get in close. Capturing detail and emotion is so much easier no matter what equipment you have when you get on your subject’s level, invade personal space if necessary! Show the freckles and the flaws, those are the things we treasure as mothers and we want to remember for years to come.

3. Now step back. Capture the scene and the feeling of a room in its entirety. This is where you’ll get those beautifully understated interactions with your loved ones, tucking hair behind your daughter’s ear, laughing at a silly antic. All great things, and so much more valuable than sitting with folded legs and arms in our laps!

4. Keep it natural. When shooting in the day, turn off overhead lighting, find a window and put your best face forward toward the light. Use that natural light, its where we all look best, and it will make your photos feel natural and inviting.


beautiful family photos

Tips from The Hubster:

1. Always try to pull your subject away from a background.  The “10 Most Wanted” pose is not flattering. The depth you can create behind them only serves to accentuate your subject.

2. Zoom in. If you have a zoom lens, stand back a few feet and zoom in to throw the background out of focus and isolate your subject from the background. More flattering to your subject.

3. Use a tripod (when possible). No human being will ever be as steady as a tripod. Outdoor in sunny conditions you might be able to get away without it….but for close-ups you will get better images using a tripod.

4. Experiment! Don’t be afraid to take several pictures of the same thing using different settings on your camera. You might be surprised what you come up with.

5. Take time to learn your camera.  To get the most out of your camera…you have to learn about it, especially if you have a DSLR. Sit down with your user guide and learn about things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and white balance. Most digital cameras offer automatic settings that do just fine, but taking the time to learn about manual settings and tweaks is well worth the time.

beautiful family photos


A few more of my favorite tips:

1. Get in closer than you think you need to. Faces are what you really want to see – so get right up there. When you think you have a great photo…take one step in!

2. Take multiple photos. Kids and babies are notorious for wiggling at the last second, so make sure you have plenty of options to choose from. You can even use the video feature on your Smartphone, then take a screen shot from the video!

3. Steady! Many people extend their arms to see the image in the camera’s viewfinder before snapping the picture. This makes it difficult to hold the camera steady. And if the zoom feature is used, shakiness is amplified. Instead, keep your arms tucked tight against your body when shooting a photo. Old-fashioned eyeball viewfinders also reduce shakiness, as it requires you to keep the camera still as it’s pressed against your face.

4. Frame your subjects off-center. Go against your natural impulse to center all your photographs. While some shots look nice centered within the frame, off-center compositions can give your photos an artistic feel.

5.  Use the element of surprise. Don’t always let your subject know you are taking a photo and wait for the perfect moment to snap a picture.

6. Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice taking photos, the easier and more intuitive it will become, and the better photos you will produce!

beautiful family photos


OK…now that you have lots of good tips for taking great family photos….here is a little inspiration for you!  I just love all these photographs of the One Good Things By Jillee Team!

Click on the picture to learn more about the wonderful people I am very fortunate to work with!  :-)


meet the team


*********CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!*********


Now that you’ve been educated and inspired….here’s your chance to win a great tool for taking your own beautiful family photos!

One Good Things By Jillee in partnership with Small Fry Blog is giving away either an iPhone5 OR a Canon Rebel DSLR Camera to one lucky winner! YOUR CHOICE!


iphone-canon giveaway

All you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite photography tip!

You can also increase your chances with these BONUS ENTRIES:

1. Click on over to Small Fry Blog and enter to win there too!

2. Post a family pic on Instagram and tag @JillsGoodThings and @SmallFryBlog #onegoodgiveaway

3. Join One Good Thing By Jillee and Small Fry Blog on Facebook. Leave a separate comment letting me know.

3. Follow @JillsGoodThings and @SmallFryBlog on Twitter. Leave a separate comment letting me know you are following.

5. Tweet the following statement about this giveaway: Enter to win an iPhone5 or a Canon Rebel DSLR Camera hosted by @JillsGoodThings and @SmallFryBlog  #onegoodgiveaway

6. Subscribe to receive daily emails from One Good Thing By Jillee. Leave a separate comment letting me know you subscribed.

7. Follow Jillee and Small Fry Blog on Pinterest! Leave a separate comment letting me know.

Winner must be 16 years or older and will be randomly selected and announced Monday December 10th. You can select either the Canon Rebel T3 with the Canon 50 mm fixed lens f/1.8, or the iPhone 5 (just the phone, no contract necessary) in white or black. The winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen.



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  1. jamie lynn says

    my best advice would be take tons of shots!! back in the days of film cameras that was so difficult (and expensive!) but now everyone’s gone digital and you can never have too many, and you’ll find many more you love that way. awesome giveaway!! :)

  2. jamie lynn says

    i have been following you on facebook & pinterest already but I have liked Small Fry blog on both as well. i also get your emails through my browser rss reader – i would miss so much without it!! :)

  3. Laura Lien says

    Thanks for all of the great tips. My favorite tip is to have fun and take “natural” photos – those candid ones when no one is paying attention to the camera.

  4. Laura Lien says

    I already like One Good Thing By Jillee on FB and went over and liked Small Fry Blog on Facebook

  5. Renee Batson says

    I love to get on the ground when I take photos, especially with flowers! The perspective is amazing. This works really good with kids and animals too :)

  6. Renee Batson says

    I have been following you on Facebook and signed up for your emails a few weeks ago and just now added you and Small Fry to my Pinterest! I also added Small Fry to my Facebook. Sorry I don’t Tweet but I did make your homemade coconut milk revised shampoo today! LOL! I am convinced you are nothing short of a genius!

  7. Kayla B says

    My favorite photography tip is use your angles wisely. High to low angles make people look thinner. I would love to win a camera to take pictures on my honeymoon! We are getting married tomorrow, the 2nd of December! I love your blog and always look forward to reading!

  8. NaDell says

    Fav photo tip is to take your camera with you everywhere. I keep my old little camera in my purse instead of dragging around my new one since I don’t have a smart phone (mine is still pretty dumb.) =)

  9. Kimberlie says

    My tip would be to take an “extra” with you to a family photo shoot. This person should stand behind the photographer and make silly faces, use a whoopie cushion, have toys that make noise and just generally act silly. With small kids, it makes all the difference and helps them stay in pose longer and give genuine smiles.

  10. says

    Hi! I always have trouble smiling a nice smile. One year, while on holiday in Italy, someone took a picture of me while I was having ice cream. I said ‘gelatiiiii’ and a really nice picture was the result! So, now I always say gelati and it works! I gave this tip to other people as well and they use it now too.

  11. Judy says

    My favorite pictures have always been candid moments captured while the kiddos weren’t being posed, even better if they didn’t know they were being photographed.

  12. Judy says

    Make sure you get a gazillion Mom and me shots. My biggest regret was always being the family photographer all the time. We have almost no Mom and me shots through four children. :(

  13. kelly groeneweg says

    My tip is to have two people taking photos. Two GOOD cameras are better than one any day, especially at a wedding!

  14. Sara says

    My favorite tip is TAKE THE PICTURE. Even if you hate being in pictures, let people take them. You won’t always be here, so those pictures are for them, not for you. There’s nothing like losing someone and THEN realizing that you didn’t have many pictures of them (or, especially, of the two of you). I learned that the hard way and am determined not to leave my family with a photographic-black-hole. I hate the way I look in pictures, but I do it anyway.

  15. says

    I like the idea of taking multiple shots. It seems inevitable someone will have their eyes closed or have a silly look on their face in one shot, whereas a second or third shot may come out perfect.

    Taking lots of family/friend shots is a good idea, too. When our loved ones pass on, photos and the memories they revive can be one of the best items to help during the grieving process.

  16. Jolee Harvey says

    With children, the more photos you take – the better your chances in capturing a great photo. It’s also a good idea to keep the location to one that is familiar so the kids are at ease (I.e., your backyard, a favorite park or beach, etc.).

  17. Sara says

    I get your daily emails and LOVE THEM! I don’t always have time to hang out on FB, but I always check my email…

  18. Sara says

    Following you both on Pinterest! I wish I had seen some of this stuff before I started decorating my nursery (although I’m pretty pleased about how the nursery is turning out anyway)!!

  19. Dana Young says

    Favorite camera tip: Use the rule of thirds when taking landscape shots. Never have half the picture be sky, and the other half land… Mentally divide the frame in thirds and either have either the top 1/3 be sky and the bottom 2/3 land or the other way around. Either way, a much more visually appealing picture than splitting land/sky equally.

  20. Hailey Van Duzer says

    Like you I have not had professional photos taken. However my pictures feel like they fall short. With my newest addition to out little family, I have been looking for advice and ideas for a newborn photos. my favorote advice, is to keep it natural! As well as natural light being the most flattering! Wish me luck!

  21. Jennifer Hancock says

    Tip is to always have a camera nearby so you can catch those spur of the moment fun times.

    family.hancock at yahoo dot com

  22. Dana Young says

    I tweeted “Enter to win an iPhone5 or a Canon Rebel DSLR Camera hosted by @JillsGoodThings and @SmallFryBlog #onegoodgiveaway.”

  23. Kimberly Holst says

    I am a huge fan of photography, having been a nanny for twenty years and capturing moments for families. So my tips for photographing children are DO NOT pose them, take candid shots and a lot of them. I love close ups the most including zooming in on tiny things like ears, feet, eyes etc. The first few weeks of life are amazing because newborns are amazingly flexible so you can put them into all sorts of fun poses. In addition to children I love to photograph flowers and doors. For flowers I zoom in close or focus on one letting the background get all fuzzy, really cool effect. I have several of my floral shots blown up on canvas and each one has some other form of life on the flower, one has an ant, one a ladybug and the other a bee. Doors are easier as they do not move :-) I have door shots from all over the world and will one day purchase and antique door with lots of glass panes to put them into, I have several shots of people displayed in antique windows, very cool.