Hello! I'm Leah Fillmore, a Newborn and Family Photographer located in Spring Hill, Tennessee! This post is about our own family photos and tips on how to take your own family portraits!

Our Family

If you read my previous blog post, "3 Tips to Help Your Children Win During Their Photo Session", then you already know A LOT of the backstory to our family session. It was all about preparing our son who HATES getting his photos taken. I won't speak too much about that in this post but if you'd like to know more about that, click this link.

This post is about all the other aspects of taking your own family photos!

After prepping our kids, putting on our outfits, and driving to our location, I was finally able to attempt taking my own family portraits! 

The Pros:

  • It’s free. As you know family photos can get pricey so if you can create beautiful images without needing to spend the big bucks then it might be worth it!
  • You can fit it into your own schedule at the perfect time for you (not your photographers).
  • Your kids are comfortable with the photographer (You). They are more likely to act their normal selves when they are around you and you tend to know the BEST ways to get them to laugh. A hired photographer may make your children act shier and more reserved, less likely to smile until your child warms up to them.

The Cons:

  • Your Kids are comfortable with the photographer (You). Sometimes when kids are too comfortable with the adults around them, they are more likely to have melt downs, not listen, or act silly. Having a hired photographer can sometimes help dispel those tendencies (kids often listen better to an adult that’s NOT their parent).
  • All the pressure to get a “good” family photo is on you, including posing, lighting, making sure the camera settings are correct. So instead of ONLY worrying about making yourself and your family look good, you are ALSO doing all the photographer stuff.

Things That Went Well:

  • I was pleasantly surprised at how well ALL my children cooperated. They were excited (mainly because of the promise of milkshakes), and they ALL tried hard to do what was asked of them.
  • The light was beautiful. Some of the best light you can work with is in that “Golden Hour” which is basically an hour or two before sunset (Or right at sunrise). This is when the light from the sun isn’t as “hot” and is more evenly dispersed. It also provides those beautiful backlit shots! I made sure to choose this time for my family session so we could have the BEST lighting.
  • The camera and tripod worked. While I have things I would change (listed below), I’m glad both my tripod and camera worked. I did have to fiddle with both (mentioned below) but that was mainly my fault.

Things I Wished I'd Done Differently:

  • Googled where the Self-Timer was BEFORE getting to the location. My old camera had the self-timer in a location that was VERY easy to find. My new camera and old camera are the same brand, and I foolishly assumed my new camera had the same setting in the same place. It does NOT. So for a good 10 minutes, I sat there trying to figure out where the self-timer was and finally googled it. My kids were running around like crazy during that time (which is fine until they rolled around in the wet grass in their nice clothes).
  • Brought a Remote/App. My old camera had a setting where it would take 10 photos in a row after the self-timer. I, again, foolishly assumed my new camera had the same setting. Again, it does NOT. Therefore, I had to set my camera, make sure focus was locked on my husband, click the shutter, run to my spot, hope everyone smiled and looked good, and it would only take one photo. I would then have to run back and do it all over again in order to get one more photo. Therefore, as a full family group, we only took a total of 6 photos! Thankfully they turned out pretty good and the kids were cooperating. I wish I had invested in a remote for my camera OR downloaded an app that allows you to control the shutter wirelessly from your phone (Canon’s Camera Connect app, Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Utility app). That way I wouldn’t have needed to run back and forth, but in the moment I didn’t even think about it.
  • Have a swivel for my tripod. I didn’t think about this until we were already on location but the tripod I use can ONLY go up and down. I can’t tilt it or angle it to get better shots, and I can’t put it on its side to have a vertical picture. I realized during normal family sessions I angle my camera A LOT to make it more flattering for my clients. When I was constrained by only the up and down of the tripod, I wasn’t able to get the “angle” I love for my family shoots. I also wasn’t able to take any vertical images of our family group, only horizontal. There are tripods that allow you to angle the camera and set it to a vertical position, but mine wasn’t one of them!

The Experience:

Overall, I love how our photos turned out! I'm grateful my children and husband cooperated so well (that makes a HUGE difference), and I was able to take my camera off the tripod and get fun photos of each of my children, my husband, and Jay was able to take individual photos of me! Here are some of my favorites!