How To Take A Family Self Portrait | 6 Steps | Nicoleinbold

Lets face it parents, we can't always hire a professional photographer to capture our family's beauty. I’m in the same boat, trust me. Whether it is timing, funds, fear of picking the right outfit, or just being out on an adventure away from home, or, let's face it, all of the above. We as parents still want to capture the elusive #familyselfie or #usie every now and again. If you find these statements to be true or you just want the in between photo session portrait of your wild and crazy family, this post is for you!

A couple of notes:

I use a camera that supports a wireless remote. I have found that setting a timer and running to get into place disrupts the authentic emotion and connection in images. It is critical to pre-plan, have patience, and be quick. Kids don't typically sit for long, so the pre-planning is key!


  • Camera (with fully charged battery and empty memory card)
  • Tripod (Nothing fancy, keep it simple)
  • Wireless Remote
  • A stand-in (Stuffed animal or possibly your partner)


  1. Scope out locations you think would be best. Keep in mind light is necessary and the more light you have available, the quicker you can have your shutter speed, for those goofy, fast moving littles.
  2. Set up your tripod, attach the camera and test your remote.
  3. Adjust any or all of your settings. This will work in any mode you choose to shoot, from auto to full manual. I like to start with my aperture, choosing a comfortable aperture (typical group images I like to set my aperture just above the number of people I have in my image. For example, I have a family of 3 so I’m going to set it at F3.2 or larger). Then adjusting ISO and exposure for the look and feel I want.
  4. Focus. I place my stand-in where I want my subject or family to be sitting.
    • There are 3 options here. 1) If you are a novice photographer, possibly in auto, no problem. With each click of your wireless remote, the camera will choose the best focus point for you and take the picture. 2) If you are a bit more advanced possibly shooting on a DSLR in aperture or shutter priority mode or even full manual (go you!), you can choose to set your focus point. For this set up, each time you hit your shutter on the wireless remote the camera will refocus on your given point. For this reason, I tend to put the focus point around my shoulder line as our heads will be moving around. 3) The last option for you super advanced go-getter parents, you can utilize back button focusing (BBF). (Please read your manual or search the interwebs to learn how to set this up on your particular model) I have found this to be the most accurate for our family. This option is very similar to the last, you choose your focus point to take the image. However, with BBF you set the focus on the back of your camera, utilizing your stand in, and are good to go. So when you hit the shutter release on the wireless remote, it simply releases the shutter and takes the image. It will not refocus until you reset the focus on the back of your camera. It's pretty spiffy!!
  5. Let's take pictures. Okay, you have everything set up, you have chosen the best focus option for your situation, now it is time to grab your family for an image (or 100). I don't always tell my child what I'm doing because I want candid emotions and moments with her. Sometimes, if I’m capturing all three of us I have my husband sit in for a few frames (making sure my settings are spot on) then I will sit/stand with him for a couple and by that time, my daughter is curious and wants to take part, no arguments. We interact, I snap away or have my husband snap away and we finish as easy as it started. She gets bored and leaves. We take some of the two of us, my husband leaves and I get a few of just me. Keep in mind I am not taking pictures for more than 15 minutes (tops), with the average "session" being 5 minutes.
  6. Check out your handy work. Feel free to leave the camera in place, if it is well stabilized, that way you can document interaction more than once with minimal set up.

This may take a few times to get used to. You may take 100 frames and only have one great image to show for it. That is okay! Great even; you accomplished your goal. Proving you exist with your children and with your spouse more than once or twice a year! Now print that awesome shot and keep it in view for the rainy days or a simple reminder to do it all again.

This version of taking a #familyselfie works great in your home, on vacation, or mini adventures. Especially if you want more than just your heads in images, want to avoid mirrors, or plain don't want to ask a stranger while out and about.  Here are a few shot and a favorite final image from a short  trip into DC a couple of weekends ago. I set everything up while my husband was changing our daughter's diaper (tripod, camera, aperture, ISO, and exposure). Then had my husband sit in place, while my daughter fetched her binkie from our stroller, to set my focus. Then I stepped into the frame and our daughter joined us.

My Family Selfie Loudoun Birth Photographer
My Family Selfie Loudoun Birth Photographer

I hope you found this helpful! If you set up an #usie or #familie please share and tag me #boldusie. I'm excited to receive feedback.

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