How to get Dad into the photograph

I think I always had this idea of dads and family portraits.  I think it started when I was young.  It’s not that my dad was not there.  He just was not in the photos.  He always told me it was the memories not the photo.  Then I married my husband.  And unfortunately, he is seriously just as bad when it comes to family portrait time.  To him, he’d rather be subjected to anything torture-filled if it meant avoiding being in front of the camera.  So then I thought to myself why?   Why does he hate being in front of a camera?  Does he think he doesn’t look good?  Is he bored?  What was it?  So I asked him.  And it was a matter of both actually.

From that point forward, I learned that my husband’s feelings are probably the same as a number of dads I photograph each year.  Over the last few years I tried to approach it a little different.  Rather than having dad be all stiff in the poses, sitting all prim and proper, I thought, what do dad’s love to do so much?

They love to flex their muscles.

photograph dad showing how strong he is

They love to show how strong they are.

photograph dad showing how strong he is

They love to have fun racing.

photograph dad racing the kids

They love to tickle the kids.

photograph dad tickling the kids

They love to be protective.

photograph dad being protective

They love to give airplane rides.

photograph dad giving the kids an airplane ride

Anyway you can think of things your dad, husband, brother or friend does with their child on a daily basis can be incorporated into a session.  Not only will dad be nice and relaxed, so will the kids.  You get genuine and authentic moments … which often are so much more meaningful than the average posed shot … well, I think so.

About the Author:

Courtney captures her every day with a Canon 5d mark II and varying lenses in a classic yet modern style. Residing in Atlantic City with her surfer husband, princess-clad daughter, and firetruck chasing twin boys, Courtney is a “self-proclaimed science geek” spending her days as a Chemistry and Physics teacher and her off time as a photographer.


  1. lisacng @ Apr 05 2013 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Awwww, these photos melt my heart! It’s wonderful to see the connection these dads have with their kids. You were successful in capturing that and right to give us advice to try to capture the same!

  2. gaylene Apr 05 2013 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I’m not a photographer, but I loved this post! It’s true, we need to capture them doing these things that they really do. Those are beautiful pictures!

  3. Rachelle Apr 05 2013 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    So very true! I cannot tell you how many times my husband has refused a family photo, or worse, gotten ready and then pouted through the shoot as though being subjected to an endless meeting (think traffic court). This is why I love lifestyle portraiture.

  4. Connie Hanks Apr 05 2013 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    So absolutely true! Lovely post and photos! Dad’s love to give shoulder rides as well as throw their kids in the air, too!

  5. Tessa Apr 05 2013 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Wonderful post and great reminder that photos with dads don’t have to be stiff and awkward….they can be fun and creative simply by tapping into what dads love to do with their kids anyway. Thanks!!

  6. Nicole Arnold Apr 05 2013 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Great post! Lots of good advice on this blog and forum. So glad to be a part of it all 🙂

  7. Jaimi L. Apr 05 2013 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    LOVE! My hubby loathes pictures. Great tips that I can’t wait to try!

  8. Kristen Apr 05 2013 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Great ideas! It’s a great reminder that Dad’s are not as tough as we think!

  9. Claudia Apr 05 2013 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Great post, thanks. My problem with my husband is the opposite, he LOVES to be in the pictures he is always ready, and because that and off course, ¨I´m the photographer¨, he has so many pictures with our daughters and me…a few!
    But I will use your tips with somebody else husband and dad…:)

  10. Carrie Yuan Apr 05 2013 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Great post and love the examples!

  11. Carole Apr 05 2013 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    This is great! I always just try to get the Dad pictures “out of the way” first. I never think of the ways he might like to express himself as a Dad.

  12. crystalsunset Apr 05 2013 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    wow , love those pics, and they are inspiring

  13. Cary Apr 06 2013 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Great advice 🙂

  14. KatieW Apr 06 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Such a great and better approach Courtney!

  15. Rebecca Apr 06 2013 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Great post! Love the images!

  16. urbanjunglefashion Apr 12 2013 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Wow!!!! These are fantastic tips! I can’T wait to try them!

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