Like the Thanksgiving holiday itself, photography provides a perfect vehicle for gathering with friends & family and creating memories that will last a lifetime. It makes perfect sense, then, to put the two together. If you already photograph families or events for a living (or even as a side hustle), breaking out your camera for the holidays may sound like trading relaxation for work. Our response to that,  however, is thus: “What better family is there to photograph than your own?” Answers will vary here, of course. Still, we believe it’s worthwhile to make a conscious effort to take Thanksgiving photos with those you love. To that end, we’ve put together a quick list of Thanksgiving photography ideas and tips you can put to use this holiday season.

5 Thanksgiving Photography Ideas and Tips

  1. Plan a Small Family Photoshoot
  2. Coordinate Matching Outfits
  3. Capture the Cooking/Baking Process
  4. Photograph the Final Food Spreads and Settings
  5. Capture Candids Throughout the Day and Evening

1. Plan a Small Family Photoshoot

How often do you have all of your loved ones in a single place?  These moments deserve to be celebrated and captured.  Plan a small, informal photoshoot with your family in the morning before all of the cooking and eating begins.  This gets your family outside for a brief moment and gives you a chance to capture some beautiful photos of the family.  If you make this an annual tradition, these Thanksgiving photos can become benchmarks to see the growth of the every changing family over the years.

thanksgiving photography family portraits photo session

For tips on how to photograph these family photoshoots, see the family photography workshop.  And for more inspiration, see our article on Fall Photoshoot Ideas.

2. Coordinate Matching Outfits for Thanksgiving Photography

matching colors thanksgiving photoshoot

For the photoshoot mentioned above and for the photojournalistic candids you capture throughout the day, a cute idea is to have your family wear matching outfits.  These can really bring out the fall vibe and create beautiful, cohesive images

3. Capture the Cooking/Baking Process

family baking together

There are many traditions that families take part in during the Thanksgiving holiday, but one of the most important is cooking the meal. For many, this is a chance to Bond over shared memories and recipes. It can also be a lot of work! The kitchen can become a chaotic scene as family members jostle for space and argue over who gets to do what. In the midst of all this chaos, it’s important to take a step back and capture the moment. After all, these are the moments that your family will remember for years to come. A few well-placed photos can help to preserve the memories of this special time. They can also be a source of laughter (and relief) when things get really hectic in the kitchen. So, next time you’re gathered around the table with your loved ones, make sure to snap a few pics!

4. Photograph the Final Food Spreads and Settings

thanksgiving photography tips and ideas food spread pexels karolina grabowska
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, food. Lots of food. After months of anticipation, the big day finally arrives and you sit down to a table overflowing with all your favorite dishes. But before you dive in, there’s one important thing to do: take a picture. That’s right, it’s time for Thanksgiving food photography.

It may seem like a silly tradition, but snapping a photo of your Thanksgiving feast can actually be surprisingly meaningful. For one thing, it’s a great way to document all the hard work that went into making the meal. Whether you spent hours slaving over the turkey or simply reheated a few cans of cranberry sauce, each dish is a labor of love that deserves to be preserved.

wine toast at the table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

But taking pictures of food is also about more than just appreciating the effort that went into making it. It’s also about creating memories. Just think back to all the times you’ve looked at an old photo and been transported back to that moment. The sights, the smells, the tastes- they’re all right there, as vivid as ever. So next time you’re sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, make sure you take a few minutes to capture the moment. Who knows- one day, you might just look back and be thankful for it.

5. Capture Thanksgiving Photography Candids Throughout the Day and Evening

thanksgiving photography candid group shots pexels askar abayev
Photo by Askar Abayev

Candid photography during Thanksgiving can be more natural and relaxed, and they can sometimes capture a person’s true personality in a way that posed shots cannot. In addition, candid shots are often more spontaneous and unexpected, which can add an element of surprise and authenticity.  So after getting a few posed shots of the family, as we’ve mentioned in the tips above, keep your camera or smartphone around and ready to capture a few candid photos as well.

thanksgiving photography candids pexels rodnae productions
Photo by RODNAE Productions

Ultimately, the best kind of photography is the kind that captures the moment in all its richness and complexity. Whether that means posed or candid shots will depend on the situation and the photographer’s vision. For better smartphone photography, see our article on iPhone photography tips.

Thanksgiving Photography Ideas and Tips | Conclusion

We hope you found this collection of Thanksgiving photography ideas and tips helpful. Thanksgiving offers photographers (both amateur and professional) a great opportunity to document their own families. We often get caught up in capturing memories for others, but we don’t always record our own. For more ideas on how to photograph families, be sure to check out our Family Photography 101 workshop.  You’ll learn lighting, posing, and other techniques for both traditional and lifestyle family photos. It’s a great way to build up your creative muscle going into the holidays. After all, it won’t be long before Christmas arrives. Of course, we’ve got you covered with more Christmas photography ideas and tips, too.


**Featured Image by Cottonbro Studio.