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Family Photos Tips and Tricks

Each fall my family has photos taken.  We do this every fall for several reasons.  One, for Christmas cards; two, they make great Christmas gifts for Grandparents; and three, so Mama can finally get in some pictures.  Photo shoots take lots of planning.  From picking the perfect photographer, choosing coordinated outfits, and keeping the kids calm and happy throughout the shoot.  Today, I’ve enlisted the help of some professional photographers to give us some tips and tricks on styling your shoot and how to make these your best photos yet!

Family Photos 2014

Boy:  Vest | Plaid Shirt | Jeans | Shoes

Mom:  Dress | Booties | Necklace

Dad:  Undershirt | Sweater | Shoes

Girl:  Top | Skirt | Shoes

Meagan, of Meagan Ready Photography in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has some great tips on working with your photographer to create a vision for your photo shoot.

  • Brainstorm!  What do you enjoy doing as a family?  Spend your weekends at the ball fields, camping, fishing, riding bikes, etc?  Think of how you may be able to incorporate some of this into your family session.  Whether it be the location in which your photos are taken, a prop, or an activity that you might do in between the more posed shots.
  • Browse Pinterest to help determine the feel you want for your photos.  Pinning things like locations, props, clothing, and poses help bring the vision together.
  • Communicate and brainstorm with your photographer.  If she has any props or locations that she might feel would be a perfect fit for your vision.  Also, communicate if you want any specific groupings.  For example, lots of family shots and less individual or if you want a couple of shots of just you and your husband without the children.  Express to them what the end results are for your photos.  If you need one of all smiling for a Christmas card or if you prefer some more photojournalistic or abstract images to use as wall art.

Ashley, of Ashley Thompson Photography in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has some excellent tips for us on helping to choose your family’s attire.

  • Skip matching entirely for a more natural family portrait.  Don’t feel restricted to one color but embrace a hue or shade.  Try picking earth tones, pastels, or even primary colors and blending them together for each member of your family.
  • Don’t forget accessories.  Not only do they make fun props but they photograph well.  Think hats, scarves, statement jewelry, etc.
  • Layer up!  Try to find layers and textures to add to each family member.  This adds depth to your portraits and will give you that perfect pop.  Add a puffy vest, a cardigan, collared shirt under a sweater, or even your accessories to layer up.  You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to do!

I don’t know if anyone else’s family experiences complete stress and child meltdowns on family picture or if it’s just mine.  Drew, of DrewB Photography in Orange County, California, has some great tips on helping calm everyone down:

  • If you feel your child needs an extra incentive to behave during the shoot, bring something that they can  have right then and there.  Promising a child a toy, ice cream, or even a pony after the shoot will do no good.  Children need instant gratification.  Good treats would be small candies like gummy bears or skittles.  Stay away from anything with chocolate.  And especially stay away from lollipops unless you want them in all of your pictures!”
  • Sometimes kids behave better when their parents aren’t around.  If your child is old enough and you think they will feel safe, try walking away from the session for a minute and let the photographer do their thing.  Take a bathroom break or go back to the car for something.  Children can sometimes feel overwhelmed when mom, dad, and the photographer are telling them what to do.  When the photographer can be in charge they are more likely to get better eye contact and more genuine smiles.
  • Try not to stress.  Photography sessions can be stressful for parents.  You have invested a lot of time and probably a lot of money in the shoot.  But, I can tell you from lots of experience, the more you stress the more your child will feed off that tension.  Do your very best to have fun.  You know how to get those genuine smiles and reactions out of your children.  Make it a big play session.  Be silly.  Make gross noises.  Have a dance party.  Your photographer can’t get pictures of you having fun unless you are really having fun.  If they don’t cooperate the entire session just let it go.  No child ever cooperates the entire session and an experienced photographer will know how to handle it.