How to take meaningful family photos.

Mar 19, 2024

Family photos have the incredible power to transport us back in time, evoking memories of ordinary moments that hold extraordinary significance. For most of us it is financially impossible to hire a family photographer for each day of your life, so YOU are the actual family documentarian.

But how do you know what to photograph? In this blog post, I will explore tips and ideas on how to create meaningful family photos that will help you capture your unique family.

Make a ‘meaningful moment photo list’

We often only take those selfies with our children, using our phones, but what if you made a list of things you want to remember about your family right now. A list that will help you know what photos to take, because they will be the most meaningful to you. I created a workbook that dives deep into what makes your family unique. It will help you find the stories you really want to tell and remember. Answering the questions in the workbook will help you look out for those moments and make you more aware so you can photograph what really matters to you. The workbook looks at the following topics to help you create photos that will be most meaningful to you and your loved ones:

  • photos of your own childhood
  • what your family does
  • everyone’s unique personality
  • the relationships
  • places and things you love
  • getting the perspective of the other family members
  • ideas on how to get into your own family photos

Embrace the chaos

I want to remind you to embrace the chaos of family life. You want to photograph real memories. Your life is not too boring, too messy, too anything, to be worth photographing. Embrace the parts that seem like bad things and include these in your photos, instead of not taking that picture. For example by include the laundry lying on the floor or the dirty dishes in your kitchen. They are part of family life. And it can even be therapeutic to photograph your messes :D.

Be prepared and observe

After you’ve created your photo wishlist by filling in the workbook. It will be time to observe. Have your camera close to you or easily accessible. You know your children best and will be able to anticipate when certain moments might happen that you would love to capture. The wonderful thing about kids is that they often repeat their behaviour. They love to kick that ball, jump their bed and dissect their food endlessly. So even if you miss it the first time. Keep your camera in your hand as they will likely do the behaviour you want to photograph again.

A boy sliding down in the playground is captured in a meaningful family photo.

Emphasize details and environment

In addition to photographing your family members, pay attention to the details and the environment surrounding them. These elements add depth and context to your images, capturing the essence of your family’s unique story.

Photographing the places and things that hold significance in our lives is like capturing fragments of our personal history. Each object carries with it a trove of memories,

I had for example a favourite stuffed animals, who I lost along the way, and I would have loved a photo of it; the little piglet ‘knorrie’ with the chewed on ears. But it might also be an heirloom you want to capture, like the Christmas tree ornaments you inherited from your grandmother. Or photographing the outside of your home. Or the same camping you visit with your family each year. Places and things are full of memories and when we see a photo of those, it becomes more vivid and can trigger other stories.

Include ‘The Village’ into your family photos

Incorporate grandparents, aunts, uncles, or close family friends into your documentary-style photos. These connections across generations create a sense of continuity and add depth to your visual story. By including older family members, you celebrate the relationships that shape your family’s identity. And once your children are grown they will love to see all the people who once played a part in their childhood. Below is a photo of a child taking the stick of a friend and parents trying to solve the quarrel.

Meaningful family photos also include friendships like this little boy crying because his friend took his stick.

Show Yourself to create even more meaningful family photos

I love seeing photos where you see the clear personal view of the photographer. And taking family photos is showing your family how you see them and the rest of the world around you. The family photos you take don’t only show your family, but it also shows them you! It will give them an inside into who you are, when you start photographing what you are attracted to. No other person will see it the same way. I included some great tips on how to include yourself into your family photos in the ‘How to Take Meaningful Photos’ download. Below is an example of how I put in my own hand while I was pushing the swing of my daughter.

I hope that you feel inspired to photograph your own families, because truly in the end you are your families visual history keepers. Download your workbook below to help you take photos of your family that will truly matter to you.

P.S. Not sure how to use your camera? You can sign up to my beginners photography course for parents ‘The Picture Playground‘. You will learn to use your camera and be able to take sharp and beautiful storytelling images of your family.

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