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Reinventing Family Portraits

oahu family photographer

April 29, 2021

I’m Kristen.
A mom, wife, and creator of pretty pictures and a stress-free photography experience. Use this blog to see more real families, couples, wedding days, and get all my favorite planning tips!
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A new way of capturing family portraits

If you are here, it’s safe to say you value family portraits, but do you dread them? OMG, me too!!! I have been a professional photographer for 11 years and I STILL dread getting our OWN family portraits taken. Session day in and of itself is stressful for every family. Most of the time, parents are a little scattered by the time they make it to their session, and the session hasn’t even started yet. Not only do you need to make sure the outfits coordinate, but you also need to make sure no one gets messy before the session has even started. Don’t you think it’s time we reinvent family portraits?

So, how do we make this more fun for you as a parent, but more importantly the kids? How do we keep them engaged and not ready to leave the second they get there? The answer, my friend, is games! This post will walk you through a session with me from start to finish. I will show you different games we play, as well as those wall-worthy traditional poses!

When you arrive to your session, we will have some time for the kiddos to run around while we talk. This is important as it creates for a more relaxed environment and lets them be themselves. Something I keep in mind is that this is more about keeping the kids happy than it is the parents. Kids like having fun, so let’s incorporate that into your session.

This first pose is with the parents standing next to each other, while the kiddos race to me!

I always start with an icebreaker pose for the kids. Parents will stand in front of each other, while their child(ren) run in a circle 2x around them and then race to me! This is especially fun when we have siblings!

Traditional Posing

Immediately following the race, we switch it up to something more formal. As you can see, the parents don’t move, rather their son raced back towards them and stood between them while dad holds the baby. And just like that, we have a formal portrait!

Being silly with Dad.

Dad went rogue threw baby up on shoulders, so we took advantage and quickly captured a boys’ club portrait! Keeping an eye out for moments like this is fun for everyone. Look at how happy big brother is to carry his baby bro like dad was just a moment ago!

Oahu Family Photographers
Let’s play war!

Thumb Wars! Who doesn’t love a good game of thumb wars with mom? Spoiler alert, those big smiles mean he won!

Kristen Campbell Photography
The Floss Dance

So, apparently, most kids these days know “The Floss Dance.” Capturing their personalities like this is one of my favorite things about family portraits!


This pose was another fun one to keep them all engaged! I had mom lift the baby and told both of them to act like they are going to toss the kids in the air, but NOT let go! For safety reasons, I will NEVER ask you to throw your child in the air, but this is a cute alternative!


Paying attention to what each parent needs is also important. So, when I can tell a parent needs a breather, I’ll go into sibling portraits. These two had fun playing peek-a-boo and it was adorable!


If you haven’t already figured it out, we play a lot of games!!! Sometimes, you have to teach your kids to play these games, and the results are adorable. Not only are we capturing portraits, but you are creating memories with your kids.

This set of images is brought to you by a fussy baby who doesn’t like grass! If something like that happens during your session, we will utilize that time for additional portraits/games!

With the kids in a better mood, we moved into some formal poses.

In essence, these are the same poses with different variations. Not having to move everyone around a lot, helps the session feel seamless for you.

Don’t smile….Did you just fart on dad’s shoulders???

We went right from sitting back to standing, but with their older son on dad’s shoulders. The middle one, everyone was dared not to smile. However, I am pretty sure he farted on dad’s shoulders. Yep. I’m convinced that’s what happened, but that’s okay! Everyone is happy in the image on the right.

The image on the left is the same setting, but I had mom lift him in the air like Simba! Haven’t we all pretended to do this with our kids anyway? So, why not make it a portrait?!

In between.

This portrait is another one that was captured in between poses. I hadn’t taken any of just the baby by himself at this point, so it was important that I get it while I could. Don’t fret, I did an entire series of just the baby, but if I showed you ALL of their images, we’d be here all day!!


As mean as it is, they’re laughing because this session was the baby’s first time being on the grass, and he wasn’t a fan.

At the end of the session and making sure all of the “must-haves” are captured, we move into the parent portraits. These were all taken in a matter of 4 minutes and we didn’t walk more than a few feet away from the kids! Safety first, I promise!

See? They were totally fine hanging out watching their parents!

And that’s a wrap! See? 45 minutes just flew by and there were some BEAUTIFUL portraits that came out of this session!

Leave a comment below with some other games you think I should try at my next family session!


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