With the end of the year swiftly approaching, many families are thinking about the holidays and one of their top priorities is a family portrait. Especially if they plan to send out a holiday card. This is where you come in.

Family portraiture can be very intimidating, especially when small children are involved. These tips will help give you confidence to tackle even the toughest of group portraits.

Use a Theme
Giving your subjects a theme to work with can really help to bring a group together and give your images cohesiveness. In the example above, all family members were told to dress in blue, whatever shade they wanted. This ensured that everyone would be wearing a similar color and everyone would coordinate. Other themes include things like denim, dressing all in white, or everyone wearing the same hat in various sizes. Use your imagination!

Ditch the Studio
When working with large groups, sometimes the easiest way to get everyone together is to shoot at the client’s home. This can be tricky as you never know what to expect but people are always more comfortable in their own homes so I like to get out of the studio as much as possible. Back and front yards can be great locations and often have areas of open shade to work in. You can also shoot in living rooms as fireplaces can be a great spot to pose the family. When working outdoors, consider using patio furniture to pose groups as they can allow you to easily position people at different heights.

Shoot Super-Tight
When all else fails, use a long lens to shoot tight. I like to fill the frame with faces as much as possible so the focus is only on the subjects. This can be especially helpful with small children as the adults can hold them and turn towards the camera as needed.

When children are especially squirrelly, another way to get a great tight shot is to have everyone lie down side-by-side. When kids are laying on their stomachs with their heads propped in their hands, it’s easier to get them to look at the camera (as opposed to standing). It’s also a good idea to use a tripod so you can frame and focus your shot, and be ready to capture when you’ve managed to get all subjects to look at the camera and smile at the same time.

I hope these tips will give you the confidence to get out there and shoot some memorable family images this season. Remember, the more you practice, the easier it will be to deliver beautiful portraits every time.

Born and raised on the West Coast, Laura Tillinghast began making art at a young age. She explored many mediums until finally discovering photography when she was 17 years old. From that point on, she knew she had found the tool she was looking for to bring her imagination to life. Shooting primarily advertising and editorial content, you never know what you will find in front of Laura's lens. Whether it is a gorgeous model, a rock band or a bowl of oatmeal, she shoots with the same goal in mind; make it beautiful. See more of Laura’s work at her website: lauratillinghast.com

Family Portraiture Hands-On Workshop

Date: Sunday, November 19th

Time: 1pm - 4pm

Location: Canon Live Learning, 201 California St., Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94111

Cost: $49