Is it harder to shoot a larger family?

Thoughts on how to manage larger numbers of children

Susan xo

Tactics for 3 or more children on a Family photo shoot

When I first started as a  Children’s photographer  I used to dread the family photo shoot that began with the telephone conversation – ‘So we have 4 children under the age of 7’!!!!  OMG how on earth do you get 4 children to look happy plus both parents to not look stressed out!!

Well, the first thing to do is to remain calm!  These parents are very used to lots of noise and usually lots of chaos, so in general, they are a bit more chilled about their children just being kids.  In short, if you can’t control 4 kids, you just go with it, which also leads to more chilled out kids.  The smaller the family, the more attention and pressure is put upon the children and in my experience this can lead to bad behavour more than with larger groups.

So what can you do:- Well if you’re struggling to get the attention of the whole group, it might be an idea to have a race.  Place the family all in a line, and holding hands.  Once they have walked together talking and being silly, get the kids to run towards the camera, shooting as you go.  Invariably I have to do this a few times, as one child will veer off wildly into the undergrowth or someone will fall over, but they love it and don’t seem to mind repeating the process.

Along the same theme, find a lovely framed backdrop, line up your children on their own, ready to have another race – when they are waiting for you to say go, you’ll get them just standing there looking expectantly at the camera!  Bingo..

Another trick I use for when the family is in a nice huddle on the floor somewhere, this works especially well for younger kids, is to ask them ‘so who’s got the smelliest farts?’ – Bottom humor usually gets a good reaction from the kids, which then in turn, gets the parents to react naturally.

Ask the kids to tell jokes too, I prefer the images where the family are reacting to one another rather than looking straight at the camera anyway so this is perfect.  With really young kids, the jokes usually make no sense whatsoever so it’s great to get the adults laughing.



I have to be aware on family shoots with young children, that we are running up against the clock.  In my experience we have less then an hour to get finished otherwise kids start to get fed up, want a snack, get tired, or have a tantrum from all of the above.. so I work fast, not so as to stress people out but as efficient as possible then we have happy kids. 

Aim to use 2-4 locations so that there’s not too much setting up or walking around – I adjust this according to mood and weather etc.

With a larger group, it’s usually the youngest that looses interest the soonest, so things to do to keep them on board, do some swinging shots or throwing them up in the air, which usually gets them excited and allows you to get a few more shots. Tickling is also a good tool and gets other kids to react well too.



Make a booking

If you’re a larger family, and need an experienced photographer to capture your large family please do get in touch. Take a look at my family portfolio and get in touch.
If you’re a photographer who needs help in capturing these larger groups I can do some 1-1 training for you.


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