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How to Take Your Own Family Photos

Take your own family photos with a tripod

If I could hire a professional photographer to take family photos for us once a month, I absolutely would. No questions asked. I love having updated photos of our family. Brian and Ellie would probably hate it, but I’d be in photo heaven! With Ellie growing so fast and changing so much, I feel like every few months we need to have more photos taken. Of course, our budget can’t really afford hiring a photographer multiple times a year (I wish!), so I’ve resorted to taking our own family photos every few months. Here’s a few of our tried and true tips for taking your own family photos.


How to Take your own family photos with a tripod

1. Set up a tripod!
After a few years of using books, rocks, countertops, you name it, I finally got a tripod. Setting my camera up on a tripod makes all the difference! Not only can I adjust the height and angle at ease, my camera is so much safer. Don’t have one yet? No need to get anything fancy, any tripod will do. Just make sure the legs are sturdy enough to hold your camera without tipping over.

tips for taking your own family photos

2. Get your settings right first.
When using a tripod, take a few practice shots. Test the light, make sure your aperture is set correctly, and crop the photo to your liking. Then set to your timer mode on your camera. After your camera is ready to go in timer mode, press halfway down to make sure you’re focused correctly, then press all the way down to set the timer.

tips for taking your own family photos with a remote and tripod

3. Invest in a Remote.
Have you heard of camera remotes? Let me tell you, they’re the best kept secret to tripod photography. Having a remote will eliminate the time you spend running back and forth from your camera, pushing the shutter. Most DSLR cameras will work with a remote. There are extremely affordable and super handy to use. (Mine is currently missing, so these photos were taken with the classic run back and forth mode!) On my camera and remote. You can set your remote to take the picture right away after you click it or give you a two second delay. I would typically choose the two second delay so I have time to hide the remote. I purchased my remote HERE.

How to take your own family photos, take your own family photos like a pro

4: Have something to look at.
Looking straight into the camera on the tripod is a little boring and can make your photos seem unnatural. Place a toy or object on or near your camera for little ones to look at. Having something in the background is also helpful. In some of these photos, we were watching a neighbor mow their lawn!

You can take your own family portraits by yourself

5: Mix it up
. After we have taken a few group shots on the tripod, I like to change up positions and take a few individual, daddy-daughter, mother-daughter shots. These are typically a little more candid and personal. After posing for so long, this is a much needed break for Ellie (and for me and Brian too!)

Take your own family portraits

6: Know your poses.
This is important, especially with small children (and husbands too!) Think of the types of poses you want beforehand, so you’re not wasting time moving people around again and again. I typically have 3-4 poses in mind that I want to have photographed. When my camera is on a timer, I set it to the highest number of photos possible (on my camera model it’s ten photos in a row). Unless we’re doing crazy faces, we usually stay in one pose for those ten photos. With an active toddler it’s nice to take a few photos. I’m usually guaranteed at least one or two good photos from those ten. Also note that not every photo has to be formally posed and smiling. Play ring-around-the-rosies or have a tickle fight. Often times, these candid moments make for the best photographs.

Take your own family photos for Christmas cards

7: Have fun.
Perhaps we’ve taken far too many tripod family photos, but Ellie loves it now! When we don’t use the remote, she loves helping me push the shutter button and run back to our position. We also let her look at all the photos we’ve taken after each pose. At the end of almost every session, we like to include some crazy faces. And man alive, has this girl got it down! When Ellie’s having fun, we’re guaranteed to have better photos

Take your own holiday family photos

8: Don’t expect too much.
Not every photo is going to be perfect. There’s a reason photographers don’t give you every single photo they take during a session. Someone is bound to be blinking, pouting, or fixing hair. Expecting perfection in every photo is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Aim for two or three fabulous, amazing photos and if you end up with more than that, consider yourself lucky!

Take your own family photos, take your own family christmas card photos


Do you take photos with your tripod? What other tips would you add to the list?

Alexa Zurcher




  • Karina Marie Powell

    I LOVE that picture of Brian throwing Ellie up! That is perfection. Frame that! Such a gorgeous family and I need these tips in my life! XO

  • Arrows & Apricots

    This is the perfect post! I always want to take family pictures, but of course we can't afford to. I need a tripod and a remote ASAP! Thanks Alexa!

  • Love always, Jess

    I never would have guessed these photos were taken without a photographer. Beautiful!

  • Anonymous

    I'm picture crazy, so anytime we leave the house I usually pack the tripod too! These are beautiful!! you'd NEVER know they weren't professional!

  • Mona "Lisa"

    Love this! Where did you get your tripod and remote from? Are there certain ones that are better? Thanks!!

  • Laurie

    I got a remote a few years ago and I absolutely love it. It really comes in handy!

  • K&R

    sooo i totally take like all of our photos with our tripod. the only real reason we have any pictures together is because i lug around my tripod haha. i still haven't bought a remote (i'm dumb) but i know it would make things a million times easier. love these little shots. you guys are so cute. if i lived by you guys i would take your photos every month happily.

  • Mila

    Love this! I think a remote was the best thing I've ever gotten! I usually set it to delayed so I have time to pose and hide it so it looks more natural! Also, one thing that really helped me is learning about photography and finding a friend who loves pictures as much as I do and values them as well. Therefore we switch back and forth and take each other's photos at no cost. (:

  • Jessie

    This is a great post! My boys actually smile better for the auto mode than they do for me. haha Something about that thing doing taking pictures all by itself amuses them. Your family is adorable and you have some great photos!

  • Britt Hanson

    Your family is so gorgeous! And thanks for the tip! I definitely need to invest in a remote and a tripod 🙂

  • Whitney @ Southern Hope

    I'm pinning this! I've used our tripod several times for photos, but haven't invested in a remote. You've got me sold, hope to get one soon!

  • Steve and Nicole

    You guys are adorable!! We did this one year for Christmas cards and I swore—never again! But here we are and I think we'll do our own this year! Love these though! You did amazing!!

  • Alexa Zurcher

    You know I'd have you take our photos every single month. Move to Utah!!

  • Gav + Ro

    I cannot believe these were taken by tripod and not a hired professional! BRAVO and great tips!

  • Unknown

    Your family is precious! These are amazing tips! If I had your photography skills, I would just do a monthly (or every other monthly…) trade with another photographer. Bam. 🙂

  • Unknown

    What great tips! Thank you so much! I will be trying these out soon with my little family 🙂

    The Mama Gazette

  • Tellese

    What kind of camera do you use?

  • Aimee @ Like Mother Like Daughter

    Gorgeous photos! I never would have guessed these were taken by self timer with how great your little one is looking at the camera! We took our own family photos today, and realized it's a little tricky with just a baby, but hopefully he will learn to love it like Ellie one day!

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