DIY Family Photography: Tips for Capturing Your Everyday Moments

As much as I’d love all of my families to have a photographer with them for every birthday, recital, and even simple moments of play, that’s just not possible. Sometimes, special moments have to be captured when you least expect them, in the comfort of your own home, and with a DIY approach. In this guide, we’ll explore the wonderful world of DIY family photography and provide you with tips and tricks to help you capture the essence of your everyday moments. So grab your camera or smartphone, and let’s embark on this fun and creative journey together.

The Beauty of Everyday Moments

Before I dive into the technical aspects of DIY family photography, let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of everyday moments. These are the candid, unscripted instances that often go unnoticed but hold profound significance. They are the shared laughter during a meal, the comforting embrace before bedtime, or the little hands reaching for a cookie from the jar. These moments are genuine, and they reflect the unique beauty of your family’s daily life.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Camera Selection

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is choosing the right camera. If you have a high-quality DSLR or mirrorless camera, fantastic! If not, don’t worry; your smartphone can be a powerful tool for DIY family photography.

Tip: Familiarize yourself with your camera or smartphone’s settings. Learn how to adjust exposure, focus, and white balance to ensure your photos turn out the way you envision them. This is possible even on phones! Let me know if you’d like me to make a video about how to do that.


Consider investing in accessories like a tripod, a smartphone holder, or a remote shutter release. These tools can help you achieve stable shots and allow you to be in the picture with your family. You are part of your family, get in that picture!

Tip: A tripod can be a game-changer for DIY family photography, especially when you want to be part of the scene. Find one with adjustable height and angles for versatility.

Setting the Scene

Finding the Right Location

Special moments can be in any location – snap the photo even if it’s not a great spot. However, if you’re looking for a photo with a good setup, look for spots with good natural light and a simple, non-distracting background. Windows, gardens, and cozy corners can serve as ideal backdrops for your family photos.

Tip: Experiment with different locations within your home, like the living room, bedroom, or even the kitchen. Each room offers unique possibilities.

Lighting Matters

Natural light is your best friend in photography. If you’re indoors, use window light to your advantage. For outdoor shots, the golden hours just after sunrise and before sunset provide soft, flattering light.

Tip: Harsh midday light can be difficult to work with, but keep trying. These shots can be so fun – picture an day at the beach in the strong sun with the big blue sky. These photos are worth getting – don’t be intimidated by the light, and don’t shoot for perfection.

Setting the Mood

The ambiance of the location is essential for capturing the right emotions. If you want a cozy and intimate feel, consider photographing your family during a quiet evening. For a playful and energetic mood, plan a morning session filled with activities. But keep in mind, the point of DIY photography is to capture the natural moments unfolding naturally before you, so you won’t always have choice to set the scene.

Tip: Discuss with your family what mood or emotions you want to capture in your photos. This can help set the stage for a successful DIY photoshoot.

Composition Techniques

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a classic composition technique. Imagine your frame divided into a tic-tac-toe grid. Position your subjects or points of interest at the intersections or along the lines for a balanced and visually appealing shot.

Tip: Most smartphone cameras have a grid feature you can enable to help you apply the rule of thirds. This is a great way to practice so it becomes second nature!

Leading Lines

Leading lines guide the viewer’s eye through the image. Look for natural lines in your environment, like pathways, railings, or tree branches, to lead the viewer’s gaze to your subjects.

Tip: Get creative with leading lines. They can be found almost anywhere. Even a winding road or a row of books can serve this purpose.


Framing involves using elements in the foreground and/or background to frame your subjects. It adds depth and draws attention to your family in the center of the frame.

Tip: Experiment with various objects for framing, like doorways, tree branches, or even your own hands in a heart shape.

Candid vs. Posed Moments

The Beauty of Candids

Candid shots often capture genuine emotions and authentic moments. Encourage your family to go about their activities naturally while you discreetly snap photos. You’ll be amazed at the heartfelt moments you can capture.

Tip: Keep your camera ready to seize those spontaneous, magical moments.

The Art of Posed Shots

While candid moments hold a special place in DIY family photography, there’s also room for posed shots here and there. Use them to create beautifully composed family portraits that reflect your family’s personality, and to gather folks together at an event.

Tip: Plan a mix of candid and posed shots for a well-rounded collection of photos that tell a complete story.

Incorporating Kids and Pets

Engaging Children

Working with kids can be both fun and challenging. Keep them engaged by turning the photoshoot into a game or activity. Capture their natural curiosity and expressions. You know what your kids need to be engaged – and when they need to be off camera and take a break.

Tip: Let children lead the way. Allow them to choose activities or locations for the photoshoot.

Pets as Family Members

For families with furry members, don’t forget to include them in your DIY family photos. Pets bring an extra layer of warmth and charm to your shots. Pets are part of the family!

Tip: Bring along some treats or toys to keep your pets’ attention and encourage playful interactions.

Timing and Patience

Waiting for the Right Moment

Sometimes, the perfect shot requires a bit of patience. Wait for those genuine smiles, loving glances, or shared laughter, and be ready to capture the moment when it arrives.

Tip: Being in the moment with your family is more important than getting the picture. Photos are only special because they are tied to memories – be part of those memories first and foremost.

Embracing Imperfections

Not every shot needs to be picture-perfect. Embrace imperfections, and don’t be afraid to capture moments that might be less than flawless. Blurry photo? Bad framing? That’s okay! It’s the memory that counts.

Tip: Some of the most touching photos are those that showcase real-life, unfiltered moments.

Capturing Emotions

Authentic Expressions

Encourage your family to be themselves during the photoshoot. Authentic expressions are the heart of DIY family photography. Snapping photos here and there rather than always having your camera ready can help your family feel relaxed and not like they’re in a photoshoot.

Tip: Help your family feel comfortable and relaxed, and you’ll capture their true emotions.

Joy, Laughter, and Love

The magic of family photography lies in capturing the joy, laughter, and love that are unique to your family. Look for those genuine moments of happiness rather than setting up in-depth photoshoots. Playtime never needs to be directed for photos.

Tip: Engage in activities that naturally bring out these emotions, like playing games or sharing stories.

Editing and Enhancing

Basic Post-Processing

After your DIY family photoshoot, you can enhance your photos with basic post-processing. Crop, adjust colors, and apply simple retouching if needed. These edits don’t have to be anything fancy – focus on exposure and temperature to bring the colors more true to life.

Tip: There are many user-friendly photo editing apps available for smartphones. Explore some of them to enhance your photos.

Preserving the Original

While editing can be fun and creative, remember to preserve the original essence of your photos. No need to over-edit to the point where the photos lose their authenticity. No need to face-tune yourself or your family – you all are perfect as you are.

Tip: Create a copy of the original photo before making any major edits. This way, you can always go back to the untouched version.

The Role of Storytelling

Telling a Story

In DIY family photography, storytelling is key. Think about the story you want your photos to tell. It could be a simple narrative of a day at the park or a more elaborate tale of your family’s journey.

Tip: You could do a photo challenge where you take a simple photo every day for a year, which tells the story of your year together without a heavy lift each day.

Photo Series

Similar to the year in review challenge, you can do other photo series. This can be a day-in-the-life series where you document what a typical day looks like, or a seasonal collection that captures your family’s growth and changes.

Tip: A series of photos can be compiled into a photo book, a beautiful keepsake of your family’s journey.

Personal Touches

Adding personal elements and meaningful props can make your DIY family photos even more special. Consider using items that hold sentimental value to your family.

Tip: Personal touches can include cherished toys, family heirlooms, or items representing your family’s hobbies and interests.

Photography Challenges and Exercises

Pro tip: I send out DIY challenges twice a month on my email list – you can sign up here.

Weekly Photo Challenge

Challenge yourself and your family with a weekly photo challenge. Each week, focus on a different aspect of DIY family photography, from capturing colors to experimenting with perspectives.

Tip: Create a family photography challenge calendar, with a new theme for each week. Share your photos and discuss the results as a family.

Silhouettes and Shadows

Explore the beauty of silhouettes and shadows in your DIY family photography. Experiment with different light sources and angles to create striking and artistic shots.

Tip: Silhouettes work particularly well during sunrise or sunset.

Close-Up Portraits

A simple but effective exercise is taking close-up portraits of family members. These photos can reveal intricate details and emotions that might go unnoticed in wider shots.

Tip: Use a portrait mode or macro setting on your camera for sharp close-ups.

Sharing and Preserving Memories

Photo Albums

Create a DIY family photo album to preserve your memories in a tangible form. Physical albums provide a sense of nostalgia that digital galleries can’t replicate. I definitely recommend working with a professional print shop for this to ensure quality, color correctness, and longevity – your go-to family photographer can do this for you with your DIY photos.

Tip: Include captions or short stories alongside your photos to narrate the moments captured.

Digital Sharing

In the digital age, sharing your DIY family photos with loved ones has never been easier. Set up a family photo-sharing platform or use social media to keep family and friends updated.

Tip: Ensure you have the necessary privacy settings in place if you’re sharing photos on social media. Send me a message if you’d like me to write a piece about best practices for sharing photos of your kids safely.

Learning Resources

Books on Photography

There’s a wealth of knowledge available in books on photography. Look for titles that cater to your level, from beginner to advanced, and explore the art and techniques of photography.

Tip: Your local library can be a treasure trove of photography books.

Online Photography Courses

Online photography courses offer a convenient way to enhance your skills. Many platforms offer free and paid courses on various photography aspects.

Tip: Seek courses that align with your interests, whether it’s portrait photography, landscape photography, or smartphone photography.

With these tips and tricks, you’re well-equipped to embark on a creative DIY family photography journey. Remember that the essence of your everyday moments is what makes your family unique. Cherish these moments and capture them to create lasting memories. The world of DIY family photography is full of fun and heartwarming opportunities.

Happy snapping, and let the moments flow!

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