Lisa Leonard Designs

anatomy of a family picture

April 26th | family, photography

first, find a good spot. this room was pretty darn clean and the light was good. i set up the tripod and a diffused flash before i gathered anyone.

once it it’s all set up, begin to gather family together for the photo. this is a good time to consider bribing kids. remember to keep the photo session as short as possible. try your best to keep from getting stressed.

be open to a little silliness–it can make for a better pic.

ok, forget what i said about silliness–sometimes it makes for a worse pic. once everyone is gathered, be prepared to take at least 10-15 of the same shot. with our family it’s probably more like 25-50. ha!
david doesn’t want to sit still and could care less about looking at the camera. matthias wants to be silly and makes cheesy smiles. getting a natural family photo is pretty tricky.let it be imperfect. this one is the best of the bunch!

how often do you take family pics?

62 Responses

  1. I love it, Lisa! So natural and real and relaxed.

  2. Chrissy says:

    Love the picture!!! Also I love your living room couch – could you please let me know where you purchased it from? We are looking for a sectional couch for our living room but I am so picky!

  3. Linda J. says:

    We gave up on posed pictures at our house a long time ago. The best photos we have are the ones showing a bit of every one’s personality. Your photos are great!

  4. anne says:

    I love your end result! I have three boys, and it is nearly impossible to get them to cooperate for photos. My 10 year old has a “picture face” he does automatically whenever a camera is around, and we can’t get him to smile for real. I like the idea of setting the camera up and just clicking away.

  5. Felicia says:

    Over Easter I was trying to get a picture of my daughter (22months) and my niece (16months) together. Totally impossible! But I did manage to get a decent pic of my son and I together thanks to the timer and well placed rock!

  6. Jane says:

    I think they are all perfect!!! Think you need to just keep taking pictures…even if they’re not “perfect” in your world!! My parents died suddenly …2 weeks after we had taken family pictures…to say I cherish that picture is an understatement! So my kids and grandkids think I’m a nut with the camera but I keep thinking they’ll appreciate it someday!!!

  7. Jen says:

    Not often enough. With four kids it’s hard enough to get shots of them so forget about the parents. But…my parents were here for Easter so they took a few shots of all of us. Not too shabby!

  8. Leigh says:

    I love it! I agree too…I have learned to not try to be a perfectionist, and the silly ones look cuter and remind me of what our life is at that moment.
    With 2 autistic boys they never sit still. Our best Christmas picture is when we are all tickling our 2yo boy and he’s the only one looking at the camera. It’s a great pic!
    Gotta keep it silly!!

  9. ModernMom says:

    I had my camera with us as we ventured out this Easter, my girls in their Sunday best, and FORGOT to take even one shot! For me, the best pictures are always the one’s with a little imperfect in them:)

  10. We take our family pictures at Easter as well and generally do another session in the fall for Christmas cards. I love the more candid ones for sure!

  11. Sarah says:

    You make me smile, Lisa! Thank you!

  12. Kathy says:

    Very cute…love the “real” photos…we are lucky IF we attempt a family picture once a year.

    I hate having to bribe them…can’t they just do it because? With a 13,11, and almost 8 I thought they could but, each photo opt. reminds me that they are not quite there yet. Then, I am the one that acts most impish and quits trying.

    Some day hopefully …we will all be on the same level of “readiness”. 😉

  13. You always have such fun family pictures — I think those speak so much of real life!

    We try and take them ourselves every so often — but like you — many of them include lots of silly!

  14. polly dove says:

    The last picture is just precious! I “trained” my kids pretty early on to pose for the camera! I have a family shot from Easter on my blog now and the smiles are just right … but my youngest is 16 – it takes time! 😉 (Now if I could just get the grandbaby trained … )

  15. Ha, what a fun tutorial! We try to take them at least once a year as well. Have to say though, the natural ones where at least one parent is more focused on the child rather than the camera (like yours above) are SO much better and more special in my opinion! We have one like that from a few years ago, which I love. The only thing I hate about it, is that our 3rd son wasn’t born yet, so I don’t feel right leaving it up as our MAIN family photo! Grrr…. Have to find time to get another one soon!

  16. Lori says:

    we have only taken two family photos in the past year. Christmas and Easter. It sounds bad, but it is actually two times more than how many we used to take a year. ;o)
    Love your photo and thanks for the reminder to take more with my babies.

  17. Southern Gal says:

    We only have three family photos – one with all the kids. Sad, I know. I want one now with our son-in-law and granddaughter. I’ll have to make that happen soon!

  18. Sadly, we have very few family pics. So I totally appreciate that you make a point to get them, even if theyre not perfect. Its important for memories! I love the last one!

  19. Jen says:

    We only take family pictures a couple of times a year, usually at Christmas and on vacation. The picture that I used for my about me page ( is one of my favorites even though my son has his mouth wide open and there were other “perfect” shots from that same session.

  20. tara and famly says:

    A simply adorable family, blessings to you and your family!

  21. elliottsurf says:

    Lisa…so so cute. now for some details, how did you actually take the photo? Do you have a remote to click the camera or do you use the self timer? I have tried to use the self timer, but then have to run into the photo before the camera takes the photo and I always look rushed!
    Thanks for all the wonderful inspiration.

  22. Gina says:

    I read this and laughed to myself – I have been the one begging and bribing for years, getting our family of 6 to cooperate for group photos. We just took one Sunday and out of about 20, I have one really good one of all of us! Someone always has a silly look, blinks, throws up a gang sign,…you name it. Our pics are a journal of personalities…

  23. Kelli says:

    We do informal ones whenever someone is available to snap one, but we only do the big, go to our photographer kind about every 2 years :(.

    This last one you put here is such a sweet snapshot of a beautiful time in your family, Lisa! It just exudes love. I love how you live so very much in the present!!!

  24. Kim says:

    We were taking family photos on Father’s Day but somehow got away from that. Haven’t had one in a couple years. With 9 people it’s even harder than yours!

    My son Connor has the same shirt and shoes as David! (my Ian has the blue version of that shirt) and my Ian has the same shirt (I think) that Matthias is wearing! Great minds… :)

  25. debhall says:

    our last “formal” family shot was 3 summers ago – at the beach – but I do try to ask someone to take our photo all together when we’re on vacation every year. Both my girls (age 4 and 8) have picture perfect smiles, so usually its’ me or my husband that is unhappy with how WE look. our last family photo was taken at walt disney world in february – in front of the castle. :)

  26. Michele says:

    Your post made me giggle. Our family photos are few and far between with mine and my husband’s busy work schedule. I’m going to try this soon. :) TFS!

  27. Randi says:

    We try to take family photos at least a couple of times a year, usually around holidays. With seven people in the family, we NEVER get the perfect shot but I’m just happy we’re all in the same frame.

  28. What a dynamic idea, Lisa. I am soooo going to do this after I get my new camera this week.
    Your photography is gorgeous.
    I think I remember reading on your blog that you use a Nikon D5000, is that right???

  29. Ruth says:

    Hi Lisa!
    Such delightful pics of your wonderful family!! Bless you ALL!
    I keep meaning to send you this link to a designer who makes these fabulous sweaters that I would love to buy for all the lovely ladies I know–yourself included :-)
    Thank you for all the beauty of design and of spirit that you share with us here!
    :-) Ruth from RI

  30. Destiny says:

    I think your picture is perfectly PERFECT!

  31. darcie says:

    Love the topic; love the pict.! This has always been a struggle! Before seeing your blog tutorial, I prefaced our Easter picture with, “let’s take a photo as cute as the Leonards!” : ) I’m finding that as the kids are getting older, I’m working with them more. I allowed our Easter picture to include David’s new hamster, and I engaged the girls in getting their opinion about location and pose, etc. I’ll have them check out your tutorial. : )

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      darcie! i love you sweet friend. miss you tons. and now that my sis is near you, we’ll have to plan a visit. you have been such a blessing to me. xxoo

  32. Mystica says:

    Coming over from V & Co. Thank you for the sponsored giveaway. These pictures are all good.

  33. IndiviJewels says:

    Great pics, Wish my house could be that clean and tidy!

  34. Barbara says:

    V says you are beautiful inside and out – therefore you must be because she rules in my book as being true, honest and good.

    Stunning sense of creation that you have !

  35. katie says:

    What a wonderful picture!

  36. Stacey says:

    Hi Lisa- I am here as part of the giveaway you are doing over at v & co. but to be honest, I have been a follower and reader of your blog for a long time!! I love what you do and make, and have been trying for a long time to win a gift certificate to your fabulous shop!! maybe today’s my lucky day!

    i hope you have a wonderful day!!

  37. It’s a great photo and so much better than a stiffly posed “professional” photo in front of a generic background.:>)

  38. Katy says:

    You have a beautiful family. Visiting from v and co. & now I’m a follower =)

  39. Ellyn says:

    So cute! I also wandered over from V & co & love your pretty blog

  40. Heather R. says:

    Popped over from V & Co. But I blog stalk you on a regular basis. Love your style, your love for your family, and your jewelry(duh!). :) Have a great week.

  41. bess says:

    found you thru v & co. – what a great photo! we rarely get photos of all of us together, but i love candids of the kiddos – just getting them to stay still is the hard part! :)

  42. JaiCi says:

    What a fun picture! My favorites are always the imperfect ones :)
    We take family pictures once a year just to see how much the family has grown and changed…it’s so much fun to look back

    Such a BEAUTIFUL family…

  43. Deanna says:

    Character of subjects makes for the BEST portraits. LOVE the silliness…

    Love your blog, too…I’ll be back during nap-time to read, read, read!!!

    Thanks for sharing your style, spunk, and amazing-ness with the world.

    ♥ (i also found you from v&co.)

  44. Kadie says:

    I found your blog from V & C. I am so glad I did!! You have a beautiful blog and sense of design!!! Your family photos made my laugh. I made a slide show of the process of trying to get a Christmas Card photo it looked similar. I “try” to take a family photo (at least of the kids) every time I can get them all to stand sill for more than a min. (sometimes they are even looking at me)

  45. What a beautiful family!

  46. Tiffany says:

    I love your designs! And thanks for the giveaway over at V and Co.

  47. Amanda Sadler says:

    Found you via V & Co. and I must say, you will be a daily stop in the one hour a day I set aside to peruse blogs for inspiration. Bravo!

  48. Patty says:

    What a wonderful family picture. I love the photos in progress!

  49. Elisabeth says:

    That’s about how all our fam pics turn out too. Might as well be realistic!

  50. Robbin says:

    We didn’t get enough family pics, sadly. But when the girls moved out and we ended up together, I made us take at least one pic of the four of us. Now we have 5 of us and soon 7 (adding Danielle’s hubby and his daughter). So whenever we get together, I make a point of snapping at least one or two.

  51. Mollie says:

    I love this picture and know how tricky it is to photograph the family. My own kids are worse than any other families I take pictures for, they are TIRED of my camera. Thank you for reminidng me that it is still worth the effort to capture those growing family memories. LOVE your blog!

  52. Tara says:

    Your family is so precious! I’ve just found your blog and I love it! Love your jewelry as well. The “By Grace Alone” necklace has been on my Christmas/birthday lists for a couple years. Maybe this May I’ll get it! Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

  53. Jennifer says:

    This is exactly what my family pics look like! I’m not sure we’ve ever got one with everyone looking at the camera and smiling. But, imperfect is what we humans are, and I love it, and them. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world, you really are amazing!

  54. Sarah-Anne says:

    all.the.time! love capturing the moments that make life so great. :)

  55. Maria Ricci says:

    Thank you for blessing me ALWAYS! Your love for your family and transparency of life are a treat to watch and view! Thank you for sharing!

    God bless you always,
    Maria Ricci

  56. Megan R says:

    Hi Lisa, I must say I love your blog. When im having a bad day reading it and seeing all the lovely pictures brings a smile to my heart. I am just getting into both blogging and photography actually. I have to ask what kind of camera do you use for your pictures? Also what editing program? Your photos are so gorgeous!Thank you for sharing them with the world! -God bless- Megan

Leave a Reply