It’s that time of year where the weather is perfect for families to get together and take some new photos! If you’re scratching your head going, “How do they do this?” or if you feel like taking family photos is kind of like surviving being thrown into a pit of unrestrained wild animals while being asked to dress nice and stand still, you’re not alone!!
In fact, that’s a little how I felt last year with four kids including a newborn and a toddler. So in this post you’ll see pics from a couple years ago where things were a little more “family photo” ideal, and last year where things were a little more chaotic. Both turned out beautiful, and both achieved my goal: capturing our family in our current season of life.
Today I’m going to give you my best tips for getting beautiful family photos of your people you love most!
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The great outdoors makes the greatest backdrop for photos. I totally prefer outdoor photos a million times over indoor photos. Not only do you get the benefit of all that gorgeous natural light, but natural smiles and way happier, relaxed littles. There is so much to be said about little ones getting to run around and be themselves and it totally shows in the pictures!
Some of my favorite family pictures are the ones that we literally had 10 minutes to get all the photos done. Everyone was much more relaxed and happy, and nobody got sick of smiling or posing or was grumpy.
If you have littles, make sure they are rested, fed, and happy. Toddlers especially do best right after a nap! So whatever you have to do to, making sure your day is structured around their naps is a great idea.
We also gave our babies a bottle or breastfed right before if we could, so they had a full belly and were happy as a bird with a french fry. Last year, Harry wanted a feed right in the middle of the shoot so I just went ahead and fed him right there on the beach.
Do whatever you need to do. Bring snacks. Have kids wear pajamas in the car and eat a snack on the way (we did this one year!) so outfits stay nice and clean and not super wrinkly. Husbands should also be well-rested and fed.
This is the one time of year that I absolutely insist that you do whatever you can afford to make yourself feel beautiful. That means working with whatever budget you have, whether that’s getting your nails done or carving time out to do them yourself the night before, getting a spray tan or using a self tanner (I love this one, but see more self tanners I love here!), and above all, making sure YOU have an hour built into your schedule to get ready and not feel flustered.
Do whatever you can to make yourself feel confident and beautiful, this is the one time each year you really should!!
Overdressed always trumps underdressed. ALWAYS. Pictures just turn out so much nicer when everyone’s dressed up, and you’ll not only have a gorgeous snapshot of your people for a holiday card, but one you’ll probably want to frame and hang up in your house!
Neutrals display well in any room and if you’re planning to display these photos, this is important. Plus, neutrals keep the focus on your people and that’s what it’s really all about, right? Also, in my opinion, color coordinated > matchy-matchy.
Even the year when I went with a little more color, I tried to just go off a color palette that wouldn’t be too loud or too specific and could really go in any room in our home. Remember that these will be like artwork in your home, so if you wouldn’t decorate with those colors, probably don’t wear them in your pics!
The best time of day to take photos is either the first or last hour of daylight. We took these beach photos during the very last hour of daylight and it was really great! I like to give our littles long afternoon naps to make sure they aren’t cranky or tired, and everyone eats right before we leave, too, because there’s nothing worse than hangry kids!!
Spend what you can to get the best photographer possible! You’re investing money in memories of your family so make sure you’re getting some pictures that you’re really in love with. Research your photographer (social media like insta stories are very telling!) and make sure your personalities vibe.
You want somebody that is funny and happy and personable, because they’ll bring out the very best in your family! Look at other family sessions they’ve done and make sure they look like what you’re hoping to get. The most important thing is to make sure that you LOVE the photos they’ve taken for other people.
One year we tried out Lizzyography because she has the reputation to be an absolute miracle worker with children and husbands and just getting the most beautiful candid photos of families and MAN did she live up to that reputation!!! She has a gift for working with families and kids and I’m so glad we invested in her.
We used her again last time we did family pictures, and even after I said to Neil, “I’m not sure if we got one good picture” because I was feeling so frazzled with 4 kids and a nursing baby and a toddler we had to chase on the beach and it was dinner time and I did my makeup in the car this year and on and on… Sure enough, all the pictures were beautiful. Hire a professional.
Your kids might not always look at the camera, a hair or two or twelve might be out of place, and your husband might show up wearing the wrong belt, but none of that matters. Happiness is better than perfection. And actually I’m pretty sure happiness is perfection with family photos! Candid is better than posed.
If you’re happy and feeling confident, THAT is what is going to shine through in your pictures. And when your friends and family and loved ones rip open that envelope and hang you on their fridge, that’s all they want to see anyway.
I know one of THE HARDEST parts of family pictures is getting everyone in cute coordinated outfits so we did all the work for you and put together SEVERAL options of color-coordinated outfits that you can click and add to cart right away to take some of the stress off your shoulders. Here’s a list of clothing I think are always great options for family photos:
- Dresses with a waist
- Long sleeved tops
- Fitted pants (not baggy!)
- Overalls for kids
- Sweaters or button-downs for men
- Jackets for men
- Dresses for girls
- Trousers and suspenders for boys
- Skirt with tucked sweater for women
- Belted sweater with skinny jeans for women