Family and Group Portraiture

Learn how to capture fabulous family and group portraits.

In this portrait photography class, you’ll learn how to think on your feet and adapt your ideas to get the best possible results out of every situation. Follow experienced professional photographer Karl Taylor through every step of the entire process, from identifying the best locations to positioning subjects and keeping young children entertained throughout a shoot.

Group portraits present numerous challenges, and these are often amplified when you introduce family dynamics! But there are ways to make shoots like this run as smoothly as possible, as you’ll discover in this class. From setting and posing to lighting and composition, you’ll cover every aspect of the journey. By the end of the class, you’ll be a more confident and knowledgeable photographer, ready to deliver superb results on even the most challenging shoot.

  • Portrait Photography: How to photograph using natural light
  • Portrait photography tips
  • How to photograph families
  • How to photograph children
  • Useful equipment for outdoor photography
  • How to pose groups for portrait photography

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Nice video, but I miss talk about how keep all people in focus, because in the camera screen and small printing, all is ok, but when escale the picture to bigger size, the problem of focus appears in some people.

    1. Hi on group shots this is always difficult so you need to choose a depth into the shot that is about half way between your closest person and furthers person and then use a smaller aperture for greater depth of field.

    2. Hi Karl,
      Great work as usual. I want to be a professional photographer so i keep watching more and more and try to put in the work needed. My question is on reflector size, beside the sun bounce you used what would be the optimum size pop up reflector for a family of 3-5.. thank you and have a blessed day.

      1. Hi Robert, the bigger the better especially for large groups as you can bounce a wider area of light. Also these large reflectors also fold down quite compact.

  2. Hi Karl! I’ve been trying to get everybody in focus and pretty much I got like 75% of all the people in the group in focus. What is your best approach when it comes to focus everybody in the group?

    1. Hi Malex, you just need to apply the knowledge and the physical capabilities of what you are using. Depth of field is the first thing you need to know, for example if you are shooting from 3m or 5m or 10m away from your subject what is the depth of field of your lens at f11, f16 etc. When you know that for a given lens then you know what’s possible. Wider angle lenses naturally have a greater DOF than telephoto lenses but may not be suitable for all group shots based on distortion and your shooting distance. So test your gear on a set of marks, trees, whatever and work it out. Once you know then trust those facts because the physics don’t change unless you change the parameters of lens, focus distance and aperture.

  3. Hi Karl, do you usually use colorchecker before every shoot? I am wondering how essential it is to post production work.

    1. Hi, yes I do unless I forget which happens sometimes and then I get really annoyed with myself during the post production stage. I’d say the most important card would be a grey neutral 18% as this is the one I refer to the most for checking colour.

  4. Hi Karl, really interesting!

    Q: what focal lenght did you use for these family shots and what F stop?

    I often have difficulties to snap focus with full body shot with my 85mm lens at shallow DOF. Any tips for me?

    Thanks Really enjoy your site so far!

    1. Hi Stephane, I’m very happy that you are enjoying the site. On each course module you will see an ‘Equipment list’ and here it shows you the lens etc used. The aperture used varies on this module as I do more than one shot but on the family group you also need to think about how close you are as any increase in magnification will reduce DOF. I will have to check the EXIF on the file and get back to you.

  5. Hi Karl,
    I know you love your backlit shots! At first I tried with speed lights but too harsh shadows outdoors with no option to bounce. The reflector is ideal and on my immediate list.
    But one question is exposure. You use Evaluative metering but that’s not necessarily taking into account just skin tones and the high illumination of the back light (sun) can throw the foreground into shadow. I guess you’re happy for some background to overexpose occasionally? You didn’t use reflector on some shots but they still seem not overly dark in the shadows. So how are you exposing for the skin tones?

    1. Hi Chris, when you consider a cameras recording capability in RAW mode there is of course a fixed range from a given highlight to a given shadow depth. These tones won’t be apparent in the preview on the camera but many of the tones can be recovered in RAW software like LR. So essentially with that information in mind I just record the image for the most important area of the subject and get that to look right on the LCD screen from that point knowing I can recover shadow and highlight later. With that in mind though it is good to get a feel for what your cameras range is so you know what you can recover or add a reflector or fill light and then you can decrease your exposure giving you more chance of recovering highlights.

      1. Great, that’s essentially what I am doing. I can recognise where the light isn’t right but your instruction has given the tips and tools where to modify the light.
        With little LR work you photos seem perfectly exposed out of camera. 🙂

  6. Hey Karl,

    Noticed you were shooting at F2 for all the shots. I found that I don’t get everyone in focus when I shoot with that low of a depth of field. Any insight on your methodology for this?



    1. Hi Charbel, depth of field also depends on your shooting distance and focal length. So when doing the tractor shot I was some distance away, always do a couple of test shots once you’ve arranged your group, zoom in on the image and check the DOF to confirm.

  7. very nice pumpkin and tractor shots.. how much time do you spend with family when shooting like these family pictures during photoshoot.

    1. Hi Vikram, I spent about 30mins to an hour on this one. But first I checked the location as demonstrated in an earlier video to take note of the light and the potential that a location has to offer.

  8. I’m a big fan of reflectors. A great versatile tool. When bouncing the reflector light. I noticed the positioning was not hoisted up higher and angled downward. Would that help curb the distraction of the reflection in the young girls eyes? Nice sun bounce by the way!

    1. Hi Geoff, yes it’s always better to bounce down where possible as the light will look more natural. Obviously if you don’t have an assistant then you need a stand that can be positioned or an assistant that can aim it correctly.

  9. I really liked this shoot, Karl – did you do it after you did the shoot with the Lego? I wondered how much it helped that the children were already familiar with you. I did also like the shot with the pumpkins – I wondered if the family liked that? I must admit I am nervous about family shoots, probably because all my children are as camera-shy as I am (!) and so trying to get them to do any shoots is a nightmare no matter how candid I try and make it and makes me quite tense which carries over into client opportunities.

    1. Hi Susie, It’s usually better that the kids don’t know you as you have a little more authority (like a school teacher) be firm but fun and convey a sense of confidence in what you are doing. I’d find a friends family to practise on to build up your confidence and then it doesn’t matter to much if it doesn’t work out the first couple of times. As in this video it’s always good to know the location first as you don’t have any negative surprises.

  10. How did you aproach to the family to do a sesion in a pumpking farm? Did they choose the location?

    1. Hi Cesar, I chose the location after scouting a few potential locations and knowing the kids liked tractors.

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