When thinking of the perfect family portrait, most people imagine the kind of masterpiece that they can frame and place in the most visible spot of the entrance hallway. The kind of photo that makes every guest stop by, take a look, and start a beautiful conversation. These days, a smartphone is enough to take fun selfies with your loved ones but, if you're looking for that fantastic family portrait that you can keep on display for generations, you need a professional touch.

Tom Baskind, who has been a photographer for more than 15 years, unveils the secrets behind a beautiful family portrait and what makes the difference between an amateur shot and a professional one.

The right technique

Not everyone knows photography techniques. And yet, we can tell when something feels off about a photo as soon as we look at it. You may not be able to put your finger on it, but things such as framing, lighting, composition, and contrast can draw your attention from the subjects and undermine the portrait. That's why the first step in getting a beautiful group photo is working with an experienced photographer who has done this kind of project before and knows how to capture adults, children, and pets on camera.  

Choose the photography style that matches your family spirit

Just like in the case of wedding photos, family portraits can look very stiff and unnatural if they're extremely staged. Thomas Baskind has many years of photojournalism training and recommends the same principles for family portraits. The final photo should let the family spirit shine through and tell a story. Dressing in matching outfits and posing stiffly for the camera doesn't achieve that, but spontaneous shots can. Feeling at home, smiling and laughing, being comfortable with each other, and interacting the same as usual creates charming portraits that you'll be proud to share. 

Tom recommends families think outside the box, and not try to recreate the same generic portraits as everyone else. Each family is unique, and you shouldn't be afraid to express this. Whether you want to take a photo in your home on a chill Sunday afternoon, while you're on a picnic, or during the kids soccer practice, go with what you like most and don't worry too much about posing. The most beautiful shots ever taken are spontaneous ones, where everyone is interacting effortlessly, so you don't have to rehearse for hours in front of the mirror or wear something uncomfortable.

Communication is key

Each one of your family members is unique. Some like being on camera, others will feel a bit embarrassed. A professional photographer can unite these differences and think of ideas that get you all excited about the portrait. Before starting each session, Thomas Baskind likes to get to know his clients better, make them feel comfortable, and brainstorm ideas together. This way, not only can he discover what they like and don't like, but also help them feel more at ease. On the day of the shoot, they'll feel more relaxed and will come across as more natural on camera.