Composition at a Family Shoot

with little kids!

filed in:

Composition Course Family SHoot

As a professional photographer, I’ve had the privilege of capturing countless family portraits over the years. Each session presents a unique set of challenges, from managing energetic children to finding the perfect backdrops.

But one aspect that truly sets the great images apart is the art of composition. In this blog, I’ll take you behind the scenes of a recent family shoot and share the techniques I used to create a truly captivating image.

Embracing the Unexpected

When I arrived at the location for this family session, I had a clear vision in mind. I knew the specific poses I wanted to capture and the overall aesthetic I was aiming for. However, as any experienced photographer will tell you, the best-laid plans often go awry when working with young children. Within minutes of starting the shoot, it became clear that my initial ideas weren’t going to work.

Instead of panicking, I took a deep breath and embraced the unexpected. I observed the family’s natural interactions and looked for opportunities to highlight their genuine connections. By remaining flexible and adapting to the situation, I was able to find a composition that truly reflected the essence of this family.

Mastering the Art of Framing

One of the key elements of captivating composition is the way you frame your subject. In this particular shoot, I knew I wanted to create a sense of intimacy and closeness, so I experimented with different framing techniques to achieve that goal.

For example, I positioned the family in a tight grouping, using their bodies to create a natural frame around the image. I also played with the placement of the subjects within the frame, sometimes centering them and other times using the rule of thirds to create a more dynamic and visually interesting composition.

Additionally, I looked for ways to incorporate the surrounding environment into the frame, using elements like trees, buildings, or even the sky to add depth and context to the image.

Harnessing the Power of Negative Space

Another crucial aspect of effective composition is the strategic use of negative space. In this family portrait, I deliberately left ample room around the subjects, allowing their expressions and body language to take center stage.

By creating a sense of breathing room, I was able to draw the viewer’s eye directly to the family members and their interactions. This technique also helped to create a sense of balance and harmony within the frame, making the image feel more cohesive and visually appealing.

Capturing Authentic Emotions

One of the hallmarks of a truly captivating family portrait is the ability to convey genuine emotions and connections. In this session, I made a conscious effort to engage the family in playful, natural interactions, rather than relying on stiff, posed shots.

I encouraged the parents to tickle their children, whisper secrets, and share tender embraces. By fostering these authentic moments, I was able to capture the warmth, joy, and love that radiated from the family.

Additionally, I paid close attention to the family’s body language and facial expressions, looking for opportunities to highlight their unique personalities and relationships.

The Power of Simplicity

While it’s tempting to pack a lot of elements into a family portrait, sometimes the most impactful compositions are the ones that embrace simplicity. In this shoot, I made a conscious decision to keep the background clean and uncluttered, allowing the family to be the true focal point of the image.

By stripping away unnecessary distractions, I was able to create a sense of focus and clarity that drew the viewer’s eye directly to the subjects. This simplicity also helped to create a timeless, elegant feel to the final image, making it a portrait that the family can cherish for years to come.


Crafting a captivating family portrait is a delicate balance of technical skill, creative vision, and the ability to adapt to the unique dynamics of each session. By embracing the unexpected, mastering the art of framing, harnessing the power of negative space, capturing authentic emotions, and embracing the art of collaboration, I was able to create an image that truly showcases the beauty and love of this family.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or someone who simply loves capturing special moments with your loved ones, I hope that the insights I’ve shared in this blog will inspire you to approach your next family portrait session with a renewed sense of creativity and passion. After all, the most powerful images are the ones that speak to the heart, and that’s what I strive for with every single shoot.

Watch the full video below!!

If you want to deep dive into learning more about Composition, my BRAND NEW course is the best way to do it! You can learn more about it HERE!

Have you seen some of our most popular youtube episodes?

We release brand new Youtube episodes every other week! They range from business topics, personal episodes, gear reviews, technical training and behind the scenes education! If you’ve never explored this part of our photography education, dive in now! It’s free!! Enjoy!


If you want to save this for later, Pin It!!


Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

Composition Course Family SHoot

Composition at a Family Shoot with little kids!

As a professional photographer, I’ve had the privilege of capturing countless family portraits over the years. Each session presents a unique set of challenges, from managing energetic children to finding the perfect backdrops.


As a photographer, I’ve often found myself in situations where the location seemed lackluster or uninspiring. It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of the perfect setting, but the reality is that we don’t always have the luxury of shooting in the most visually stunning locations.

Sneak Peek Composition. Course

Creating Amazing Composition when you have a boring location


The Smith Family Pharsalia Farm Family Portrait

We rescheduled this shoot with the Smith family once because of a threat of rain. It wasn’t a totally horrible forecast but if there’s one thing that I learned about Colleen when I photographed her wedding, it’s that she loves the GLOW!


The Sledge & Hugo Family Legacy Family Portraits | Maymont Park

What’s better than doing a family session for one KJ couple? Photographing TWO and adding in Nonna and Grandpa!


As a professional wedding photographer, I’ve encountered my fair share of editing challenges on the job.

LR Editing Nightmares

Wedding Photography Editing Nightmares and how to fix them!


5 Essential Lightroom Tips I can't edit without these!

Have you ever closed out of Lightroom unhappy with the end result?



"Best money I have EVER spent on education! ... and I've spent a lot!”


"I love all the lessons I'm learning from KJ All Access! Thanks Katelyn!”

- Shannon Drummond, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"I find very few educational resources worth it ... this one is!”

- Kate gansneder, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Recently signed up for KJ All Access and it's EVERYTHING!”

- Kassidy Mowery, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Being able to see behind-the-scenes of Katelyn interacting with her clients has been SO impactful!”

- Angie mcpherson, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Recently signed up for KJ All Access and it's EVERYTHING!”

- Kassidy Mowery, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"SO worth it! It's amazing the amount of knowledge you get out of them!”

- Brittany Lowe, ALl ACCESS MEMBER

"I learned just as much in one All Access as I did in a whole course! SO GOOD!"

- Joanna Krueger, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER
10 Steps to Starting Your Photography Business
Helping a friend survive a season of Infant Loss
How to photograph a first look in Harsh Light
A Lake Como Destination Wedding - Greg and Kate
A Letter to the Go-Getters fearful of Motherhood

The KJ blog

The KJ Blog is where you get to know me, where you meet our KJ Couples and see their beautiful wedding days, where I have been building an archive of education for over a decade and where I let you see a peek into our life, our home, and hear about our purpose! 
don't miss the
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ


Join 97,000+ others and learn, grow and get connected via our Youtube Channel! This is where I'm constantly sharing new content, talking all things gear, business, tips, tricks and letting you into the behind-the-scenes of our everyday life! 

The KJ Learning roadmap

If you're a visual learner, this real-life, behind the scenes training was created just for you!

Create clients who can't help but rave about how you made them feel in front of your camera!

A 4-step educational preset process that will make Lightroom seem like a friend instead of a constant frustation.

The only thing you'll need as a beginner to kick start your photography journey.

The most popular, most transformational KJ Course of them all! Learn how to find great light in any location no matter how challenging!

The course that teaches photographers how to master Lightroom, find their unique style and trasnform their workflow!

Not only can artificial intelligence edit your images in minutes, it can now edit your work exactly the way KJ would if I was editing it myself!

Create polished, scroll-stopping images!  If you’re tired of “normal” and are ready to access the “Next Level”, this course was designed for you! 

"I have invested in all of KJ’s education!

The way she teaches makes so much sense and I’m so grateful for her! My business will be forever changed!"

- Renee Nicolo

"KJ education has been life-changing

 It has elevated my work so I could quit my day job and work from home with our baby boy!"

- joanna k.


and none compare to what I get from KJ!"