Ep 53: Family size hold the cheese: how to take editorial style family photos


Family photos are inevitable. And they can sometimes look woeful! Especially if Uncle Buck is still trying to be the funny guy of the family. So how do you take beautiful family photos that don’t look staged and overly posed?

In this episode, Gina and Valerie discuss the steps you need to take to ensure that your family portraits look more like they have stepped out of the pages of a lifestyle magazine. You (or your client) will end up with family photographs that are unique, memorable and treasured. From angles, to locations, to posing, this episode has it all.

#ginachallenge #familysizenocheese

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show notes

Useful link

Sliced Chocolate For Sandwiches Is Now A Reality – Life Will Never Be The Same Again

Listener question

I was listening your podcast no. 48 “How to build your profile as a photographer” and a basic question came to my mind: as a new photographer in the market, should I build my brand around my proper name (Joaquin Zepeda Photographer) or around an impersonal studio name (Studio Name, Wedding Photography)?

A photographer once told me my name doesn’t say anything to anybody (at least not yet), but a brand could. What do you think about it?

Thanks for this great podcast collection. It is helping me to grow as a photographer!

Joaquin Zepeda
Mexico City

Sicily Photography Workshop June 1st-7th 2016

Sicilian Food Tours

Hold the cheese. Family portraits that aren’t cliche

The brief from the client

A magazine wants a 10 page story plus cover and website content.

The fabulous and gorgeous family Johnny and Jenny Fabulous and their children which include:

  • Newborn baby Fabulous
  • 4yr old Freddie Fabulous
  • 16yr old Sally Fabulous
  • 14yr old Dave Fabulous
  • The grandparents Mama and Papa Fabulous (in their late 70s)
  • 2 dogs
  • 2 cats
  • Goats

The fabulous family live on a beachfront property that backs onto a pine forest.

House has light bright large kitchen/dining area, but rest or the house is dimly lit because it’s pre-fabulous renovation. They have a large country property and a large garage.

  • We need individual shots of everyone for interview pages and social media.
  • Couple shots of Mr and Mrs Fabulous
  • Group shot of the kids
  • Family shots with and without grandparents
  • Posed and lifestyle looking shots
  • Details of the home

Types of photos to avoid

The 29 Most Awkward Family Photos Ever

The Gear

Fixed focal fast lens 50mm is perfect wide open to disguise cluttered unphotogenic backgrounds
24-105mm or similar as interiors can get very tight

Tripod is a must

Crank up the ISO 800. It’s better to have a slightly noisier shot than a soft one

The lighting

  • One light large modifier for soft daylight-like fill
  • Umbrella or umbrella box or any softbox is ideal
  • Take a reading as if you were shooting for daylight and just add tiny amounts of fill
  • Try and use as much daylight as possible
  • Look for large windows
  • Use reflectors for extra fill
  • Look for “clean” open shade outdoors
  • Backlit for great mood

The set ups


  • Look for clean uncluttered backgrounds
  • Look for doors to frame your shot
  • Table settings
  • Kitchens
  • Cars
  • Walls
  • Garden paths
  • Driveways
  • Leading lines
  • Laneways

Shot list

  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom with baby
  • Bathroom son (4) watches dad shaving
  • Mum and kids bake together
  • Gardening
  • Walking along the beach
  • In the woods

Set up shots

Give everyone something to do
Lifestyle shots
Set up natural interactions

Pick up or inset shots

  • Little details
  • Boots in a line at the door
  • Books on sidetable
  • Flowers
  • Food
  • Hands
  • Pets

Some ideas from Gina

family lifestyle shoot

inset shot socks on a washingling

family kitchen shot

family shot living room

inset shot shoes

#ginachallenge #familysizenocheese


Get your copy of Gina’s guide “The Shot” FREE when you sign up to her newsletter. You’ll also receive FREE Lightroom presets every month.

How to direct and pose like a pro


Want Gina Milicia as your mentor?

About Gina

About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

instagram Instagram