How to not be Annoying when Taking Family Photos

By Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman /

One of the hardest things about being a photographer with children is this incessant need to film them. Itʼs like the itch that can never fully be scratched.

I will admit, I’ve overdone it at times. I’ve let the desire to get the shot overtake me, make me angry if I didn’t get it, and just basically ruin the very moment I was trying to capture.

This side of me came out big-time when I was doing my 365 in 2013. I drove the whole house crazy – including our dog – to make sure I got the shot of the day. But that all changed this year when I decided to put down the camera, and realized that I was potentially hurting relationships in my home with my daughter and even husband {though he isnʼt the main focus of the images}.

Allow me to share with you some ways on how to keep snapping, but lessen the irritating factor when taking pictures of your family.


God bless the self timer. It has given us photographers the option to get in the frame rather than always being the one in charge of the shot. I find the minute I ask my husband and daughter ʻcan we all get in a pictureʼ it isnʼt met with much resistance. And I also try and limit the attempts – 2 max. Otherwise, well, it can get annoying.

© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014


A little reminder never hurt anyone. My 6 year old doesn’t really get it when I say this but my husband does and whenever I pull out old shots of her as a baby and milestones in our lives, he gets it. It pains me when I read about people not having any images of their mom or dad growing up or at times even themselves. Family photos are all we have once someone is gone. One of the most important mantras in life my life that I tell my clients as well is ʻmemories fail, pictures donʼt.ʼ

© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014


This is a fairly new one for me coming off that year of the 365. I think we forget at times that kids are really just little people. They have their good/bad days, they are in the mood to do things sometimes, and other times, not so much. So I started the practice of asking my daughter if itʼs ʻokʼ if I bring my camera to take some shots when we have outings. She has seen me reach for the big guns before and let out a sigh. Not a great way to start a fun day out, right?

Since I started doing it, I get more yesʼs than noʼs. A new dress? ʻHey do you want to test out the spin factor on it?ʼ Iʼd say. And sheʼd give it a whirl. Anything where she is occupied is also usually cool with her: carnivals, play dates, visiting… 9/10 times I think she knows she will be too distracted to even care!

© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014


This may be my covert side that adores street shooting, but I adore shooting somewhat blind and undercover. I do this a ton with my Leica P+S because itʼs so less obvious than the big honking dslr. One of my most favorite shots ever came from shooting from the hip {this is where you hold the camera down to waist/hip level and fire away}. I was going to my daughterʼs school for an event and knew sheʼd be happy to see me.

I was in no way, shape or form going to miss out on us locking eyes by having a big olʼ camera in my face. Connection is so vital to me with her. So I just held the camera down and as she ran to me I just fired off a bunch of shots. Is it technically perfect? No. But IS it a perfect moment? Yes.

© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014


As with any client, the same goes for your family! Pass the camera around. Have each family member take a shot of the other. Set the timer as previously mentioned and have a race as a family towards the camera. Look for fun ways to film your kids, like in the rearview mirror. Just make it anything but a chore.

© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman 2014

Hopefully with these tips you can lesson the annoying factor and up the fun so you can gather family photos to cherish forever.

About the Author

Jennifer Tonetti Spellman is a New York–based children’s photographer, blogger, and mommy of two girls. She’s a contributor at and teaches photography courses at Illuminate Classes, “a photography education community focused on bringing meaningful insight to your art and your business.”

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