Capturing Authentic Emotions in Family Photography

April 8, 2021

Family sessions- you either love them or you hate them. Not everybody wants to deal with children, and trying to organize groups of people while keeping everyone attentive and interested can be hard! If you have ever sat around looking at your gallery after shooting a family session, wondering why most of them look the same and hoping for some variation in your shots, this one's for you!

Lauren Gray

Wild Fyre Co. | Kansas City, MO

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IG @wildfyreco


Not every family is going to be the same. Some families can be shy and reserved, where some families can be very outgoing and silly. Some couples may like to show more affection towards each other and some don’t, and that’s okay! Everyone is different, but you really can never be sure until you get to know your client! Thankfully there are many ways to do this before the session so you’re not left wondering how it’s going to go. If you haven’t had the chance to set up questionnaires prior to the session to get to know your clients, it would be a great time to start! Ask about who will be attending, interests, and personalities! Who doesn’t like being in front of the camera? Who lives for the camera? What do you love and hate as a family? What do you do during family time? Have a phone consultation with your main contact and get to know your clients. It may be extra work for you before your sessions, but it will create a bond with your families when it shows you truly care and want to get to know them, not only to create perfect customized images, but to show them that you’d like to create relationships for the long run!


Using prompts for your session can be difficult to get used to if you’ve only been asking your clients to get into position. Prompts are phrases that you would use to create direction for your clients. For example, if you were trying to get a picture of the kids hugging the mother and capture the family looking genuinely happy, you wouldn’t just say, “OK kids go hug mom.” Instead, connect with the family and ask them what they really love about their mom. Ask them what their mom has done lately that has made them really happy! Ask the kids to run up to their mom and attack her with hugs and kisses, and tell her how much you love her. Be sure to keep snapping images through this prompt. Using prompts like this will give you genuine emotions and reactions, rather than a posed photo of a hug.

Prompt: Okay, now spin her around! This was after a pose where the uncle had his arms around his niece for a hug.


This is one of my favorite parts of working with families! Lots of members within the family have cute things they do with each other. For example, I had a family session where the uncle always put his niece on top of his shoulders. She loves being up there and acting silly! The niece also loved grabbing onto her uncle‘s arms when he hugs her from the front. I had asked the niece to hold her uncle's arms and show him how much she loved him. We ended up with a beautiful gallery of the different emotions she had gone through while being in the arms of her uncle. If the couple has a cute face that they always make towards each other, ask about that and capture it! Does the family have any jokes or dances they do with each other? Ask them to jam out and capture the moments! Get creative! The more you get to know your clients, the better service you can offer them for the things that matter most.