Large Family Photo Ideas, Tips, and Advice

65 Tips for the Best Extended Family Photo Ideas

Do you want to plan a photoshoot with your big family? You might have already started brainstorming large family photo ideas, or have no clue where to begin. Either way, this large or extended family photoshoot guide can offer you inspiration, tips, and advice to make the photoshoot and the planning process go as smoothly as possible.

Large family photo

Photo by Dorene Sykes


Beginning to Plan

  • The first thing you should consider before planning a large family photoshoot is: “What is the purpose of this photoshoot? What is my intent?” Are you doing this just for fun, or will it end up on your holiday card? This thought process will help you determine every aspect of your photoshoot including style, location, clothing, and arrangement.
  • Who is going to be in this photoshoot? Whether it’s just your immediate family of six people or your twenty-three first cousins, getting a headcount is a crucial aspect of planning ahead. Once you’ve decided who you want in the photoshoot, make sure to choose a date when everyone is available.
  • That being said, there might be an upcoming date in which your family will already be together in the same place. This could be an upcoming family reunion, a wedding, or someone’s bar mitzvah. If this is the case, you could plan the photoshoot around this date instead of picking a new time to get everyone together.
  • Set a budget before making decisions. Consider these questions when making your photoshoot budget: Can you afford to hire a professional photographer? If not, do you know how to take a family photo with your phone? How far are you able to travel? Will everyone have to buy something new, or can they choose an outfit from clothing they already own?
  • Before moving on to the rest of the planning process, consider what kind of style you’ll be aiming for. What will best match your family’s taste?

Location

  • Now that you’ve considered the initial questions and set a budget, it’s time to choose a location. While this may seem simple, there are many things to consider. First, do you want the photoshoot to be inside or outside? If you want to be outdoors, select a place with good natural lighting. This way, you won’t have to compensate with artificial lighting or heavy photo editing to get high quality photos. If you’re unsure if your dream location has good natural lighting, take some time to check it out in advance.
  • Is there a specific location that already has a lot of meaning to you? Let’s say you’re planning a photoshoot with your husband and four children. The park where you had your first date could be a beautiful and meaningful location.
  • Don’t forget to consider people outside of your family. If you choose a public place, chances are other people might be around. If you want to minimize the cameo appearances of strangers in your photos, consider how busy the place gets during certain times of the day.
  • Do you plan on including your pets in the photoshoot? If you do, pick a place where you can easily bring them and where pets are allowed. Additionally, make sure they will be safe in the location you choose.
  • Consider what kind of transportation is required to get to the location. If it is driving distance away, will you have enough drivers? If you decide on a destination photoshoot, will everyone be able to purchase a plane ticket?
  • Will your location be accessible to everyone? Maybe you have a passion for hiking, and it’s always been your dream to do an extended family photoshoot on top of a mountain. If that’s the case, consider the capabilities and disabilities of every person in your family. Don’t choose a location that won’t be accessible to everyone.
  • Check the weather. If your photoshoot must occur in the winter season, avoid choosing a location that will have bad weather.
  • Do not forget that the location should be the backdrop of your photoshoot, not the star. Let’s say you’re from New York, and want your photoshoot to take place in front of the Statue of Liberty. This can be executed in a stylish manner, but don’t let the Statue of Liberty take away from the focus on your family.
  • Once you’ve chosen a location, make the details clear to others in your family. Tell them exactly where to meet, give them specific directions, and mention what time they should arrive.
  • If you still can’t decide on a location, consider these ideas for inspiration.
  • Natural Settings: beaches, trails, forests, parks, lakes, or open fields
  • Metropolitan Settings: the heart of a city, stylish streets, staircases, street art backdrops, train stations
  • Vintage Settings: rustic barns, inside old fashioned diners, historic properties

Clothing

  • Once you’ve chosen the perfect location and finalized your large family photo idea, you can begin planning what clothing you want everyone to wear. Knowing your location will help inspire your clothing ideas, but will also come with some limitations. For example, if your photoshoot is set for winter, make sure everyone will have a warm though stylish outfit. If you’ve chosen a beach but envisioned everyone wearing formal attire, make sure everyone knows their outfits might get a bit wet or dirty.
  • What kind of tone are you aiming for? Match your outfit with the tone you’re trying to set, checking that it will also be harmonious with your location. Here is some clothing inspiration for your large group photo ideas:
    • Seasonal: No matter what kind of clothing you’re aiming for, consider colors that work well with each season, especially if your photoshoot isn’t indoors. Spring colors are soft and pastel, such as blush, mint, cream, or lavender. Summer colors are vibrant and lively, such as lemon, turquoise, red, or magenta. Fall colors, earthy and natural, include amber, pumpkin, maroon, or dark green. Lastly, winter colors are cool and elegant, such as ice, gray tones, royal blue, and eggplant.
    • Funny: Wearing funny costumes will give your photoshoot a playful and less serious ambiance. Dress up like your favorite cartoon family, or wear sports jerseys that represent your favorite team.
    • Coordinated, but not matching: Coordination based on colors will allow every family member’s outfit to mesh well together, without matching too much. When choosing your color scheme, stick to only one or two colors for the best results.
    • Dressy: Ask your family members to wear outfits that are classier than their everyday clothes, but not formal. You can even add a personalized touch – such as cowboy boots if you grew up on a ranch – to add a pop of fun to your dressy outfits.
    • Formal and traditional: These classic outfits will give your family photoshoot a fresh aesthetic. Formal and traditional outfits might include button downs, slacks, or dresses.
  • What else needs to be considered when choosing outfits? Make sure to avoid multiple patterns across different people, especially when brainstorming large group photo ideas. This includes graphic t-shirts, words, quotes, and logos. Bold patterns can be distracting and take someone’s eye away from the intent of the photo and straight to the patterns. We recommend wearing solid colors or very subtle patterns.
  • Does everyone in your family have similar skin tones, hair colors, and eye colors? If so, think about what colors might best complement your family’s look.
  • Don’t forget about shoes. Shoes may seem like a minuscule detail, but they can distract from a photoshoot if not planned well. Make sure each family member chooses shoes that pair well with the style of clothing you’ve chosen. In some cases you might not even need shoes – like for a photoshoot in your backyard.
  • Always be careful with the color white, since it can be translucent.
  • Have you decided on a color scheme, but are still having trouble deciding how much everyone should match? Here are some outfit coordination tips to help you out.
    • If your family has many young children, it is okay for them to have matching or almost matching outfits.
    • If your family has mainly older children or teenagers, we recommend you choose loosely matching outfits.
    • If your family has a wide range of ages, it’s easiest to stick to a color scheme and not prepare anything that matches exactly.
  • How much should you emphasize accessories? Over the top accessories, such as patterned scarves, can take away from the sleekness of a big family photoshoot. Appropriate accessories can add a tasteful flare. You might want to take a couple photos that focus specifically on accessories, such as a close up of all the married couples’ hands and rings, or a mother and daughter wearing matching bracelets.
  • Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of clear communication. Let’s say you decide upon a blue and white color scheme, and spread this information to your family. It will be beneficial to be very specific about your vision. You can’t predict how different people will interpret a blue and white theme, even if it seems obvious to you. Your teenage daughter might choose to wear a white pleated skirt with a denim top, while your great aunt might choose a blue and white floral mumu. While these colors match, these outfits are probably not the most harmonious choice for a family photoshoot. There’s never any harm in being communicative about your intentions for everyone’s outfits.

Poses & Arrangements

  • You’ve finally chosen your date, location, and outfits for your family photoshoot. Now, you have to plan what poses and arrangements you want for your photos. Think back to the tone you chose. For example, is your photoshoot formal or playful? If you decide to wear costumes, silly photos may be appropriate. If your family looks dressy, traditional poses will be more appropriate.
  • Especially if you want a photoshoot with funny poses, don’t forget to consider what each person is physically capable of. Ask each person what they are comfortable with in advance.
  • Do you need any props? Some props are strictly practical, such as a stool for children or a chair for someone who has trouble standing. Other props are fun, such as books, balloons, confetti, sparklers, or bottles of champagne.
  • Plan what photo arrangements you want to take. This list of tips will assist you in planning different arrangements.
  • Not every person has to be in every shot.
  • Make rows, putting taller people in the back and shorter people or children in the front.
  • There’s always the option of some people sitting and others standing. This is perfect for a location with different levels, such as on a staircase or on rocks at a beach.
  • You can also take a photo of everyone sitting.
  • Include different combinations of people in different photos. Although your family has five or more people, you might want to capture a shot of just your children or the grandparents.
  • For large group photos, don’t be afraid to take multiple photos with people standing in different orders. This will give you many options when you look at the photographs afterwards, and you can choose which ones you like best.
  • Don’t make anyone feel left out. If a group of family members wants to take a photo, let them!
  • In addition to arrangement, you might want to think about your poses in advance. If you’re going for a more traditional look, you might only want photos of your family members standing with their arms around each other. If you’d want to include some fun poses, here is a list of some large group photo ideas.
  • Take a photo that alludes to something you’re interested in. Strike a pose inspired by your favorite band cover, the front of a book, or a famous piece of artwork.
  • If your family is wearing a specific kind of costume, choose a pose that matches the costume. For instance, if everyone is wearing super hero shirts under their clothing, you might want to stand in the Superman Pose.
  • If the right family members are present, recreate a photo from the past. This internet phenomenon has recently grown very popular.
  • You don’t always have to stand still – you have the option of doing active poses as well. This could include candid shots of parents swinging their children or siblings playing together.
  • Use any props you brought. Get photos of someone popping open a bottle of champagne or of everyone holding sparklers.
  • If you can’t think of anything else, then just take a picture of silly faces.

Advice

  • You’ve planned every last detail of your extended family photoshoot, and are waiting for the day to arrive. But you’re not finished quite yet – there a few pieces of advice to help you with the big day. The first thing you can do to avoid any emergencies is to ask everyone to try on their outfit the night before. Make sure everyone’s outfit fits and is clean.
  • Encourage people to eat, drink water, and use the bathroom before leaving for the photoshoot.
  • Make an emergency touch up kit. This might include makeup, a hairbrush, a mirror, or a change of clothes for children. Even if you only end up using one of the items in your emergency kit, it will be worth bringing!
  • Have an honest conversation and ask the members of your family what they are comfortable with. Taking photos with multiple people often includes touches on the arm or back, hugging, or holding hands. Ask everyone what their boundaries are, and don’t force anyone to do anything they’re uncomfortable with.
  • Make a list in advance of any specific poses or arrangements you want during the photoshoot so that you don’t forget any.
  • Be mindful of where the camera is. For example, a hand holding picture might look good from the front, from the back, or as a shot of the shadows.
  • Take multiple pictures in the same pose, in case someone is sneezing or closing their eyes. If you have multiple shots, you can choose the best one or use a photo editing app to create a conglomeration of the different photos.
  • Dont worry too much about little things. Even pimples can be removed by the click of a button in a photo editing app.
  • Don’t forget your belongings when the photoshoot is over. If you brought back up outfits, makeup, snacks, or the toddlers’ favorite toys, don’t forget to check for everything before you leave the location.
  • People are not perfect. Some things are out of your control and might not go as planned. Know that this is okay, and keep looking forward to the finished product.
  • Although the planning process may have been stressful, don’t forget to have fun!

After The Photoshoot

  • If you have digital copies of your photos, such as PDFs or JPEGs, back them up. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll keep the photos forever and never lose them.
  • Make the photos into a customizable gift. The possibilities are endless. Put your photos on calendars, notebooks, or shirts, or stick to a more classic gift like a printed photo album.
  • Despite what time of the year your photoshoot occurred, those beautiful photos will be perfect for photo Christmas cards at the end of the year.
  • Lastly, learn from the experience. You may have run into challenges when gathering your family for a photoshoot. Use this experience to improve the planning process for the next photoshoot.