How to Take Amazing Family Photos

Christmas is next week - Can you believe it?! The holiday season is in full swing and it is around the holiday season that the mood hits me to wrangle up my small family and go take family pictures. In my brain and, on Pinterest, this all plays out very nicely. Everyone is perfectly coordinated, not a hair out of place, smiles and poses are on point and we are all so very cheerful and bright!Family Christmas PhotosThe truth? This is a venture that becomes way more complex than just taking a selfie of yourself at your desk at work. The family photo session has become quite the task, especially with social media friends and bloggers flaunting their gorgeous final product of family photo shoot pictures. What they fail to tell you is all the behind the scenes work that must go on in order to pull this off. This year, in my quest to have fabulous photos to go on our annual holiday card, I quickly became a self-proclaimed expert on planning, prepping and pulling off great family photos. Below are a few gems…

  • You must first decide what the purpose of the pictures are and communicate it to your photographer. My photos were for our annual holiday card but others often use these photos for other uses such as printing on a canvas, creating a family calendar or printing on keepsake items like mugs, keychains or lockets. Whatever they are for it is important that your photographer is aware especially when they are editing, deciding on poses and/or choosing proper lighting. Knowing the purpose of your pictures will also help you guide the wardrobe choices. If you are hanging the pictures in the children’s room you may decide on different clothing than if you were sending it out to friends and family.
  • Studio session vs. on location? Another important question to determine is whether you should do your session at a photo studio or on location at a beautiful field or your back yard. We chose a photo studio at a department store for the simplicity of it and lower cost, but we felt very rushed. It felt like we were done in just 10 minutes and we did not get a large variety of shots. Also, our photographer did not take the time to build rapport with our son and it made for a tense few minutes, but I am sure that would be different if it were a privately owned studio. On location offers more posing choices and you possibly get more relaxed looking photos, however you are at the mercy of the elements. You can easily get rained out or lose needed lighting. Whatever the decision, be sure to do your homework regarding cost differences between the two, check the weather and make sure all participants are comfortable with the decision.
  • Plan photo shoot outfits in advance and ensure everyone tries their clothing on ahead of time and is comfortable in them. I actually handled this part well. I was inspired by a dress that I already owned and then planned everyone else’s clothing choice around my dress. We kept it simple but fashionable and went with a festive red as our primary color. Remember, coordination is good but please don’t be too matchy! It’s boring for the eye and you are just better than that! Everyone was happy with their clothing choices and were comfortable wearing them. Remember, to bring back up outfits for the children, something almost always happens! 
  • Not only should you make sure your family looks good but take some time to ensure that YOU are glam…if mom is happy, everyone is happy! All too often we focus on coordinating our loved one’s outfits and ensuring they are prim and proper but neglect ourselves. This year I made an appointment at my local Sephora and was pleasantly surprised to learn that, as Family Photos In Christmas Occassionlong as you purchase products worth $50 or more, you get a full 45 minute makeover! I was so fortunate to have a great makeup artist in Katie (Ktlicious86 on Instagram) who had experience with working with darker skin-tones. She was able to whip me right into photo ready shape. She even gave me a bold red lip! I, of course had to add just a bit of flash with the 7 Charming Sisters “The Floor is Yours” earrings. These earrings are simple but make a bold holiday statement with the red color. I couldn’t believe how much fun I had and how great I felt. I believe it showed in my pictures!
  • Make sure the children are well rested! I learned this that hard way. I frivolously scheduled our shoot right smack dab in the middle of nap time after a busy morning. By the time we made it to the studio, our little one was sound asleep. We had to wake him up and THAT did NOT go over well. Take it from me, plan the photo sessions strategically around naptimes and meal times. Everyone, including the hubby should be well fed and rested. It is wise to bring snacks or favorite toys for the children. This can be used to bribe them to smile!
  • Finally, Don’t get too cute! Often this is time we want to experiment with different looks and poses and the results can be…odd. This is not the time to get a new haircut, wear a lot of busy patterns or experiment with uncomfortable poses that you saw in Vogue, because if that haircut or color does come off as planned you will be self-conscious and the camera will pick up on it. Now don’t get me wrong, you are paying for these pictures and this is the time to bring out your inner Diva but… don’t overdo it, for if you fail, it will forever be documented! Photo Credits: