Top 5 Family Photo Tips

Lauren recently had some family pictures taken and I’ve scheduled mine for this week. It got me thinking about some suggestions for getting great photos from a professional photographer. From senior pictures to headshots to wedding photos, I’ve worked with many different photographers and I’ve got a few tips.

1. Plan, plan, plan!  I know as a mom you already have to make a million plans everyday, but you will be happier (and get more for your money) if you outline your photo shoot. I know you love to make lists, right? Make a list of:

  • Outfits That includes shoes, socks, bows, pantyhose, etc. You will need to do this for yourself, your children, and any family members’ laundry you have the ability to hijack (like a spouse or partner). Do all laundry a week ahead of time and then lock it in a safe until it’s time for the shoot.
  • Props I love props! I plan to use the pink throne for my little girl in the upcoming shoot. So cute! But props don’t have to be furniture. We also have a tradition of taking a picture of my son  every year in the same adult-sized St. Louis Cardinals jersey so as he grows into it I can weep and sob at what a young man he is becoming.  🙂 I’m also going to bring a copy of the novel that inspired our daughter’s name for her shots. A good photographer will find ways to incorporate those special things into your pictures. And it makes your pictures unique!
  • Who’s who What’s the most important photo you want? A group shot?  Indivduals of your children? A generation picture with grandparents? If you put some thought into what you’d like to see hanging on the wall, you’ll be able to that communicate with the photographer.

2. Set reasonable expectations At our last family photo shoot, BayBay was only 3 months old and the Bear was 2. I was soooo stressed out because I hadn’t thought about what a 2 year-old boy would want do while his sister was posing in her tutu (Kicking, screaming, and scaring the children in the lobby. I heard a little boy say, “Mommy, I don’t want to go in that room!”). Our Christmas card last year had a temper tantrum right in the middle which we ended up loving because it was “us” at that moment.  But I realized I only get a limited amount of happy faces looking at the camera and I have to go into this knowing that.  You know what your kids are capable of, but for me more than 2 outfit changes and/or poses is not reasonable for toddlers.

3. Research The internet gives you opportunities to check out a photographer’s style before stepping into the studio. Check out Facebook pages and websites. If you see a friend’s pictures that you like, get the name of their photographer (and sometimes you and your friend will get some type of incentive for the referral). Pinterest is a great place to check out poses, sets, and color schemes (search family photos, family pictures, family photos what to wear, etc). Share pictures of what you like with your photographer ahead of time. If you prefer a traditional family portrait, share that with your photographer. If want some good black and white photos, make sure your photographer knows.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask! We’ve done some great studio photos, but it’s so much work to pack up all our stuff and travel. Not to mention working around nap times and work schedules. So I just asked our photographer if she would come to our house and she said yes! Of course, this might not work for everyone, but it never hurts to ask. Photographers are creative people so I’ve found they love opportunities to do something outside of the box.  If you know you want something different, but you don’t know what ask the photographer for some ideas. Our photographer asked us a great question, “How do you spend a Sunday afternoon?” My answer was “in the front yard eating Ted Drewes frozen custard and swinging.” So she suggested we just do that and she’ll bring her camera. I love it!

5. Mommy time You’ve planned. You’ve laundered. You’ve researched and asked. As challenging as it is to find time, give yourself some time before your shoot to get yourself dolled up.  Try a keratin treatment to add some shine to your hair. Give yourself that manicure you’ve been meaning to for a month. I really like to put on eyeliner to make my eyes pop in photos (wearing more makeup than you would everyday highlights your features, but if you aren’t comfortable with it don’t do it!). You deserve a time to shine!

I’d love to hear any tips or ideas you have before we jump in front of the camera!


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