Family Photos Pasadena

This is a portrait of a husband and wife at my Pasadena studio. He is wearing a light pink buttoned down shirt and she is wearing a matching light pink sweater with black trim. She is standing sideways with he arms around his waist. She has a gold watch and bracelet. They look elegant. They came in for family photos with their three adult daughters, their husbands, and their grandchildren. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.
(Above) Family photos at my Pasadena studio

Let’s discuss your family portraits so I can create photographs you’ll cherish for generations

Call me to schedule a session 626-676-9295

You can also email me at

Or use the contact form at the bottom of the page or choose Contact from the menu above.

(Above) A mother and daughter portrait session at my Pasadena studio

How would you like to enjoy your family photographs?

Do you prefer wall art, albums, or prints?

Of course, every image comes with a matching high-resolution digital file.

Wall art

  • Traditional matted and framed prints – choose frames that harmonize with your decor
  • Framed canvas – your images are printed on canvas and framed
  • Metal prints – a modern look with vivid color


  • hand-crafted albums with the finest workmanship
  • professional paper stocks and printing processes

Printed photographs

  • professionally printed photographs
  • collections come with a folio box to protect your prints
  • choose loose, matted, or mounted
This family photo was taken in Sierra Madre in the canyon. Maria and her daughters wanted a simple family photograph that they could treasure forever. Maria is wearing a vivd purple sweater over a simple black shirt and jeans. Her older daughter is on her right and they are connected with their hands. She is wearing a black leather jacket and jeans and is standing next to Maria and turned in towards her. Her other daughter is on her left and has her hand on Maria's upper arm. They are connected and relaxed. They are sitting on a wall made of pale gray stone. The house behind them is made of warm wood shingles. The background is slightly blurred as to not distract from the family. There is a large tree almost out of frame on the camera-left side. The family is smailing and looking at the camera. I framed this so that the family is to the right and there is negative space to the left. Not centering them in the frame adds a bit of visual interest.

A comprehensive look at Pasadena family photos

Below, I will outline all the technical and artistic aspects that I consider when creating beautiful family photos. If you’re interested in the technical aspects, keep reading.

If you’re ready to book your session or find out more, please email or call me.

A black and white image of a young couple. She is sitting in front of him and his arm is on her front forearm. His other arm is behind her on her waist, unseen. She is looking down and back at him and smiling. He is looking down at her and smiling. They're both wearing black. He's in a suit and she's wearing a sleeveless knit dress. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.
(Above) Romantic portrait of couple at my Pasadena studio

Studio vs Outdoor portraits

Not sure if you want family portraits in the studio or outdoors? Outdoor photos are more casual but that doesn’t mean studio photos have to be stuffy.

We’ll talk about what kind of photos you want before your session and decide which is better for you. Of course, you can always have both!

We can also meet at an outdoor location or at your home. I’m happy to bring a mobile studio so you can have the best of both worlds.

There’s more information about family photos below.

Family photos in the Pasadena studio

Benefits of studio portraits

  • You can control the light in a studio.
  • There are more props for seating, so it’s easier to pose groups in a flattering manner.
  • There’s no wind to mess up your hair.
  • It’s easier to corral children in a studio, but you need to be aware of heavy and expensive equipment.
  • You don’t have to worry about the weather.
  • You can have a change of clothes hanging at the ready.

Studio photos can be elegant with traditional posing and studio lighting or casual with sunlight streaming through the window (see the image below).

(Above) Family portrait taken at the Langham Hotel Pasadena

Outdoor locations in Pasadena

Benefits of outdoor portraits

  • When you’re outside, everyone is a little more relaxed.
  • It’s easier to accommodate larger families.
  • The setting is informal.
  • You can choose between wide-open spaces or be in the center of nature and among trees or flowers.
  • You can choose an urban area if you like brick walls or interesting graphics.

There are many good outdoor locations in Pasadena and surrounding areas. Some require a photography fee and some do not. Most places require a fee because they’re overrun with photographers who impact the guest experience. Photoshoots can also damage the delicate ecosystem.

This is an images of three school-aged children posing for a family photo in a Pasadena park. They're coordinated with black and dark blue sweaters and jeans. The brother, the oldest and tallest, is standing in the middle and has his arms around his two sisters. There is a large green bush with red bracts behind them.
(Above) Family photos taken in Pasadena

Some popular locations for outdoor family photography in Pasadena and nearby areas are:


The Arboretum 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007 (626) 821-3222

The Arboretum requires a $75 photo permit purchased in advance along with tickets for admittance. The photo fee is reasonable and one of the cheapest. Hours are 9am-7pm daily. This is a beautiful spot for family photos with a variety of locations.

Descanso Gardens 1418 Descanso Drive La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011 (818) 949-4200

One of my favorite locations for family photos. There’s such variety and it’s a beautiful place to visit. If you have a Poppy Circle Membership ($1,000) you’re entitled to one free photography booking. See an entire post devoted to the best locations at Descanso and photos I’ve taken there.

Lacy Park 1485 Virginia Rd, San Marino, CA 91108 (626) 300-0790

Family photos, which are considered commercial photography, require a permit ($1,000) from the San Marino City Hall and a permit processing fee of $135. You must apply for your permit at least 10 days ahead of time. Lacy is a beautiful 30-acre park, but not one of my favorites for family photos.

Arlington Garden in Pasadena 275 Arlington Dr. Pasadena, CA 91105 (626) 578-5434

A permit ($100) is required for one hour of family photography at this Pasadena nature garden. This is a 3-acre botanical garden with paths, fountains, cacti, arbors, benches, a stone meditation circle, and fruit trees. A small, charming location.

Eaton Canyon 1750 N. Altadena Dr. Altadena, CA 91107 (626) 398-5420

A $100 permit is required and usually not given for the weekends. There is trail access at the following locations:

  • Pinecrest Gate / Mt. Wilson Toll Road
  • Midwick Ave. Access Point
  • Waterfall Trail at Walnut Canyon
  • Equestrian Trail at Walnut Canyon

The farther you go into the canyon, the more rugged the trails become. There are many tree-lined trails and a (usually) dry riverbed. See an entire post devoted to photos taken at Eaton Canyon.

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden 270 Arlington Dr. Pasadena 91105 (626) 399-1721

A $500 permit is required for family photography at his Pasadena Japanese garden. This is truly a “secret garden”, hidden from view, and built in 1935. This two-acre garden features a formal tea house, two ponds, sycamore and oak trees, and a waterfall.

(Above) An extended family photograph at a local park


Arroyo Woodland and Wildlife Nature Park 100 Pasadena Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

A three-acre park at the southwestern end of the Arroyo Seco. A rustic setting with trails winding through live oaks, sage, and stone walls. Next to the Arroyo Seco bike path.

The Lower Arroyo Seco 415 S Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105 at Norwood Drive (626) 744-7500

A 3-mile loop trail with various photography locations along the way including overhanging tree branches, stone steps, grassy areas, fallen logs, and the bases of the Colorado Street Bridge, La Loma Bridge, and the San Rafael Bridge. There are 11 access points in to the Arroyo. The main entrance with a small parking lot is at the Arroyo Blvd and Norwood Drive location.

Hahamonga Park 4550 Oak Grove Drive Pasadena 91103 (626) 744-7199

A 1300-acre park with a variety of locations. From forests of live oaks to wide open grassy fields to dirt trails that wind through sagebrush to stands of slender trees, it’s got it all. Before the Big Dig, I spent hours there scouting locations. Some of my favorite family photos in Pasadena have been taken there.

(Above) Family photos at an outdoor Pasadena location

Posing for family photos

Posing is an art and a skill. You can learn posing rules that create pleasing shapes.

Some basic posing rules are:

  • All limbs should be slightly bent.
  • A woman’s torso and shoulders should turn 45 degrees away from the camera.
  • Stagger heights when posing family members.
  • Pay attention to clothing and arrange colors in the most pleasing manner.

Your personal style also influences posing. Do you like precise posing where you direct every limb into place? Or do you like fun casual posing that highlights a family’s connection?

A family of five posing at an outdoor park in Pasadena, CA. They are wearing Los Angeles Dodger gear and are sitting an dstanding at a swingset. The Dodger outfits are blue and white. They are all wearing dark blue jeans. Dad is standing in the middle and mom is on the outside left. Their youngest daughter is betwen them and she's sitting on a swing. Their two other children, a teenaed boy and girl, are on the other end. She is standing on the end and he is sitting on the swing. They're looking at the camera and smiling. Behind them is a small dill, grass, and trees. This family photo was created in Pasadena by Rebecca Little Photography.
(Above) Family photos at a Pasadena park

Good posing doesn’t mean complicated and the family personality determines how I pose them. Some families want to wear coordinated outfits, have dramatic lighting, and create a photograph that’s inspired by art and fashion.

Other families like to plan and create highly stylized holiday cards with props. Others want studio portraits but want simple family photos with no fuss.

Your family photos are always customized to your needs and we’ll talk about them before your session.

Outfits for family photos

Outfits are so, so important! I spend a lot of time discussing what to wear with clients and send them a digital guide with tips for getting the best look. Distracting or uncoordinated outfits can ruin a photo.

A family of five posing for family photos in my Pasadena studio. They are standing in font of a charcoal hand-painted canvas backdrop. They're wearing black pants and. sweaters, blouses, and shirt in shades of pink and ivory. This is a stunning example of how to color coordinate your outfits for family photos. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.
(Above) A family of five at my Pasadena studio for family photos for the holidays

The family above is wearing black pants as their foundation, then adding shades of pink and ivory. Gorgeous!

Coordinating colors

Not everyone should match, but everyone should be coordinated.

Start with black or dark pants or skirts. This is the foundation of the outfit. I like dark colors closest to the ground to serve as an anchor. Almost everyone owns dark pants, so it’s a good place to start.

Then choose your color palette for the tops. It can be as simple as everyone wearing shades of blues and grays for shirts, sweaters, and blouses.

Or everyone wearing dark jeans with one person wearing a jean jacket with a t-shirt underneath, another person wearing a deep blue sweater, another wearing a medium gray shirt, a fourth person wearing a coordinating shade of blue, and someone adding a colorful scarf.

Or everyone wearing neutral tops in browns, deep greens, and tan with a red scarf to break up the monotony.


No writing or logos. No loud patterns. Solid colors usually work best.

A dress that is perfect for the office or going out might not be ideal for family photos if the pattern is eye-catching. You want to sing in harmony; it’s not time for a solo.

Stay away from white

White shirts are bright and distract from the face. Your eye tends to immediately go to the brightest part of the photograph and we want that to be your face. Yes, white can look fresh and modern, but please choose warm shades of ivory or cream, not stark white. A white shirt is best layered under a jacket or sweater.


Stay away from fabrics that wrinkle easily. Knit fabrics and denim are smooth and forgiving. Satin and silk lack structure and can sometimes look sloppy, so make sure the fit is good. Other fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily are wool, polyester-cotton, cashmere, and Tencel.


Suit jackets that are too small with sleeves that are too short are noticeable and look uncomfortable. If you can’t comfortably button your jacket, it’s too small.

Buttoned shirts that gape at the breast line are a no-no.

Caftan-like tops may make you look heavier if that matters to you. Form-fitting is usually better. Don’t forget shapewear if you want a smooth silhouette free of bulges.

Brother and sisters family photos for holiday cards in Los Angeles Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena CA. Here are three siblings posing in front of a dark blue backdrop. The oder brother is wearing a charcoal gray button down shirt. He's standing next to his younger sister who's wearing a short black dress with a black tulle overlay. The older sister is standing to the right wearing a sleeveless black lace dress. The two girls are holding hands and the younger sister has her arm entwined around her brother's arm. She is standing on a black ladder to make her taller. They're looking at the camera. Their faces are well-lit.
(Above) Family photos at my Pasadena studio


Match your undergarments to the color of your clothes. Wear flesh-colored bras under sheer tops and dark bras under thin dark tops.

Consider Spanx or pantyhose for a smooth line under dresses, skirts, and pants.

For tops made of thin fabric, wear a T-shirt bra. These are designed to disappear under clothing. Bra lines can be distracting and can’t always be fixed through retouching.

Sleeveless tops

Be cautious with sleeveless tops. Armpits can be unattractive and bare skin can distract from the face. When women wear sleeveless tops, I tend to pose them with their upper arms near the body so the armpit isn’t visible. If you love your arms, this is your chance to show them off.

This is one of a series of family photos created in Pasadena, CA in my photo studio. This young teenaged girl is sitting on a stool. She's facing the side. She has on a cream, sheer shawl and long structured, tiered tulle skirt. her hands are resting in her lap. Her long hair is reddish brown. Her skin is pale and her eyebrows are nicely groomed. She has a pleasant expression but is not smiling. When I create family photos, I always take time to create individual portraits as well. Portrait created by Rebecca Little Photogarprhy Pasadena, CA.


I usually don’t photograph families full-length and include their shoes. A wide shot can make their faces too small to be clearly visible. You want to be able to see expressions and connect with the people in the photo. With a very large group, or if they’re seated, sometimes it’s inevitable. Dark footwear looks best and is the least distracting.

Changing area at the studio

I have a private area for changing at my Pasadena studio, so if you need to bring additional sweaters or shirts for your family photos, there is a place to hang and organize your outfits. I also have a full-length mirror.

Hair and makeup

Professional hair and makeup services are not essential for a beautiful family photo, but it’s nice to be pampered and it’s one less thing to worry about.

(Above) Family photos taken at the Arboretum

Messy hair or lots of flyaways don’t look good. I tell women that If you don’t like your hair, you won’t like your photo. I’ve learned this through experience. I always have a hand mirror nearby so you can check your hair and makeup.

It’s very difficult to retouch messy hair and is usually cost-prohibitive when not impossible. I recommend bringing a hairbrush to your session and using hairspray to tame any hair sticking up and to stop loose hair from drifting into your face.

When applying makeup for photos, apply it as you normally would. Don’t think you have to be extra dramatic in order to see your features. Blend your foundation and blush well. Don’t put too much color on the apples of your cheeks.

Always bring a hairbrush, blotting paper or powder if you have oily skin, lipstick for touchups, and a hair tie, headband, or clips if you’re outside in case it gets windy.

I offer professional hair and makeup services at my Pasadena studio for family photos. My stylists have years of experience and have worked with hundreds of clients. They follow your lead and are experts at creating looks from natural to full glam.


Lighting helps determine the mood of your family photos. Dramatic studio lighting with high contrast and a painterly quality gives a fine art feel to your images. Natural light streaming through windows feels light-hearted and happy.

At my Pasadena studio, I have studio lighting and lots of natural light for the kind of lighting that suits you best.

A portrait of an older woman. She's standing to the side of a window and the sun is shining through. She's wearing white tulle wrapped and twisted around her shoulders. One shoulder is bare. Her skin is pale. The light is bright and flattering on her skin. Her eyes are brown and she is smiling at the camera. Her brown-red hair is cropped short. She's wearing delicate earrings with a white stone. This is a good example of flat lighting that's coming from the side. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena CA.

Different types of lighting for family photos

Flat lighting

Flat light is a light that is shining directly on the face, usually from just a little bit above the camera. It is flattering and is usually bright. This flat light has no contrast and is not dramatic. Because it has no contrast, it fills in facial lines and imperfections.

A light from the side would emphasize these lines just like the setting sun casts long shadows. But this flat lighting casts no shadows. This is an easy light to use for family photos and makes everyone look good.

Paramount lighting

Paramount or butterfly is flattering light that sculpts and thins the face, hides a double chin, and highlights cheekbones. It’s called Paramount Lighting because it was used to create classic Hollywood portraits by Paramount Studios. It was so flattering and shapely that Marlene Dietrich supposedly insisted on it. It’s called butterfly because there’s a butterfly-shaped shadow directly below the nose, although sometimes it’s hard to discern.

This light is best for an individual beauty portrait when you can concentrate on one subject. When I create family photos at my Pasadena studio, I also create individual and family groupings.

Clamshell lighting

Clamshell lighting is also a type of beauty lighting. It’s used for headshots, magazines, and glamour portraits. It starts with a Paramount lighting setup then adds a reflector under the subject to bounce light back onto the face. The light source and the reflector together look like a clamshell or a “V”.


Backlight is light that comes from behind the subject. The light usually streams through a large window, although you can use artificial light to create this same look. I add a giant reflector in front of the subject to bounce that light onto her face. The light fills the room and smooths the skin. This is a gorgeous, flattering light and creates a halo of light around the head.

A black and white family photos created in Pasadena CA. This is a black and white image of a mom and her two daughters. They are leaning forward and resting their arms on a table covered in white cloth. The mom is in the middle. They are all dressed in white. The teenaged girls are either side have long brown hair. Mom has hair past her shoulders and it is darker than her daughters'. They are smiling at the camera. The light is streaming through a large window behind them and filling the room with light.  Their skin is soft and smooth. This is a fabulous example of backlighting. Backlighting is gorgeous and flattering and perfect for family photos and mother and daughter portraits. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.

Backlighting with a backdrop

The light is placed behind the backdrop and illuminates the subject from behind. You can use a large window or artificial light for your source. I place a reflector in front of the subject to bounce the light back into her face. This soft light adds a bit of shine to the hair.

A portrait of a woman showing backlighting. The light is coming through the window behind the gold backdrop. She's sitting on an unseen stool wearing a deep purple fitted sleeveless dress. Her arms are toned and slim. She is tall and lean. Here eyes are brown. She is gazing at the camera with a slight smile. Her brown hair is bobbed to her shoulders. The backlight is casting light on her hair and the light is soft and painterly. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena CA

Short lighting

Short lighting is when the light is shining on the side of the face that is turned towards the camera. If the subject is looking straight at the camera, the light is placed in front and to one side. If the subject turns her head to look towards the light, that is short lighting. Light travels in a straight line and is aimed directly at her nose and chin while brushing past the sides of her face.

Short lighting can make a fuller face seem thinner. This can be used for individual portraits but is not usually used for family photography.

Broad lighting

Broad lighting is the opposite of short lighting. If the subject is looking straight at the camera, the light is placed in front and to one side. If the subject turns her head to look away from the light, that is broad lighting. Broad light highlights one side of the face and illuminates this entire side. Light travels in a straight line and is aimed directly at the broad side of her face while brushing past the sides of her face.

Broad lighting can make a thinner face seem fuller. This can be used for individual portraits during a family photography session.

Loop lighting

Loop lighting starts off as a Paramount setup and moves slightly to one side. This creates shadows on one side of the nose and under the nose, lip, and chin. It also creates a shadow under one cheekbone. The shadows formed a “loop around” the face, hence the name. It’s beauty lighting with a touch of drama.

Rembrandt lighting

“Rembrandt lighting” is dramatic lighting with lots of shadows. It has a specific look, mainly an inverted triangle of light below the eye that’s farthest away from the camera.

Usually when used in a studio with lights, Rembrandt light is more dramatic and more of the face is in shadow, but in the painting below you can see the inverted triangle below his eye and the shadow under his chin and along his cheekbone.

Rembrandt light can be adjusted to create a soft, painterly light for family photos.

Rembrandt paining showing lighting with inverted triangle.
(Above) The inverted triangle under the eye denotes Rembrandt lighting

Split lighting

Split lighting is light on one side of the subject that shines on one side of her face. There is a dividing line down the center of the face between light and dark. It’s dramatic and a specific look that’s not suitable for family photos, although it may be used for individual portraits in rare cases.

Top lighting

Top lighting is a light coming from the top. The forehead, nose, and upper cheekbones are mostly illuminated. The mouth and chin are in shadow. This can lend an air of mystery and ambiguity as you may not be able to see the subject’s expression very well. It can also mimic the sunlight at high noon.

If you add a reflector or adjust the light a bit to illuminate more of the face’s lower half, I find it creates an evocative portrait. It can be used for a family portrait with two or three people.

Retouching for family photos

Professional retouching gives the final polish to an image. Every print or album image you purchase includes complimentary retouching.

These two side-by-side images are an example of retouching. I retouch all family photos that leave my Pasadena studio as prints or albums. Retouching is essential for a polished portrait. This young woman's skin has been smooth, the whites of here eyes brightened and whitened, her wrinkles lessened, blemishes removed, and her neck and chest smoothed. Before and after photo by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.
(Above) An example of retouching

My standard retouching includes:

  • removing blemishes
  • smoothing lines and wrinkles
  • removing dark circles under the eyes
  • brightening eyes
  • removing red and orange skin tones
  • taming fly-away hair

More complex retouching includes:

  • opening closed eyes
  • body slimming
  • filling in thinning hair
  • removing glasses glare
  • removing braces
  • head swaps

The level of retouching is always customized for each client.

Products for your home

I believe in the power of the printed photograph. Technology evolves and whatever you store your photos on now will become obsolete. A photograph can be handed down from family member to family member and last for generations.

I offer wall art, custom albums, and desk prints.

A mother and daughter portrait in the studio. These two wanted family photos at my Pasadena studio, and their family is just the two of the. They're both wearing black shirts with long sleeves. This highlights their pale skin and blue eyes. The daughter had long brown hair with highlights and the mom has shoulder-length gray brown hair.
(Above) An image taken during a mother and daughter portrait session

Email me to schedule a Pasadena family photo session

Use the contact form below, call me at 626-676-9295 or or email me directly at

My studio is in Pasadena, CA and I accept QuickPay with Zelle, credit cards, and cash.


serving Pasadena, CA and surrounding areas since 2010


Form submitted successfully, thank you.Error submitting form, please try again. Or you can email directly at

Contact info



Phone 626-676-9295


Pasadena, CA



Privacy Policy

Terms of Service