I love how our family photos turned out and it’s become one of my favorite things to do every year. Since we have been doing it for the past three years now, I put together some tips that have made things a bit easier or that I find help us get better photos. Some of these tips are pretty obvious but I still wanted to list them in case you are completely new to taking family photos and want to gather all the information you can to make sure it’s a great experience.
1. Find a photographer that does family photographs specifically – I know this seems like a no-brainer but working with a regular photographer, versus one that is used to doing family photography is very different. Someone that understands how to capture children and the family dynamic is not always easy, so that is key.
2. Choose open spaces (especially with small children) – Taking photos with small children is exhausting and can be so frustrating, so I prefer to take them somewhere Miles can run around and explore so that he is more engaged with the process.
3. Allow for movement – I personally love photos that capture movement rather than just having everyone sit in one place the whole time. Photos with movement often look more organic and create more unexpected moments. It also takes away A LOT of the stress because kids don’t want to stand still. Allowing them to (somewhat) freely move around makes the time more enjoyable and you have a higher chance of having good photos when they are happy. We will take photos sitting still or standing, but to be honest we do that at the VERY beginning when Miles is a bit more calm. As time goes on and he gets more fidgety, that is when we let him run around and we chase him. LOL
4. Location is key – There are a few different factors I look at when deciding where we will take our family photos. I want somewhere picturesque because that can make up for a lot in photos. Sometimes one of us could be making a slightly weird face or the picture isn’t perfect but the background really can make it look like a gorgeous photo. I also like to pick somewhere that aligns with what I’m wearing. If I’m dressed more casually, I want a more natural setting like what we did above. It would be hard to walk around grass and sticks in stilettos and a ball gown. If we ever do a fancier photo session, I would choose a place with more buildings/sidewalks which for me makes more sense with that type of look (also I can walk easier in heels when not in grass LOL).
5. Bribery, bribery, bribery – If you are not taking photos with kids then maybe you need to bribe your pets. Ha! I came equipped with tons of snacks and Miles’ favorite foods to keep him happy during the session. I also tried to pick things that wouldn’t look awful in photos if he was eating them (example: the apple), but you do what you need to in order to make things more manageable.
6. Outfits – Deciding what everyone is going to wear can be the most stressful thing about taking photos but I prefer to keep it neutral. Perhaps someday I will want to be more creative but since Miles is so young, I want Stan and I to be comfortable to run after him. For us that means jeans and browns/creams/neutrals. I may even repeat this look for a few years because it’s easy and I don’t want family photos to be stressful. Start with a dark neutral base – black, denim, brown and then add in either white, cream, beige or tan. Stop here or add in one accent color such as burgundy, red, green, etc. It’s easy to do that with accessories such as a red scarf for one person, a red hat for another and maybe a shirt that has some red in it for another person. I prefer not to be matchy-matchy but to look cohesive. Or you can also choose a color for everyone to wear and alternate the textures. Black sequins for one person, black velvet for another, black cashmere or black wool – the difference in textures will look beautiful together!
And finally – have fun! Stan and I have taken pictures with Miles every year since he was born (see year one here and year two here) and it has become such a fun tradition now. I don’t want the photos to be overly staged or posed so that takes away so much of the stress of the whole process. We all just interact together and our photographer captures the chaos of it all. Bring music if you want, food, fun props – whatever will keep everyone happy and engaged for the duration of the shoot.
Photos by Paula Bartosiewicz