When I think of my best tips for family photos, I realize they’re all about making the shoot feel great. When you and your family are feeling upbeat and relaxed, a photographer can better capture all the love and happiness that makes for magical family photos.
Family photo shoots are dynamic events. There’s a lot of moving around to find the right light and the right backdrop. Having to pick up bags and jackets and move them between shots can disrupt the flow of the day and make the whole thing feel like a hassle.
One of my top tips for family photos is to leave the props at home. Props make images feel less natural and often don’t age well. But if there’s an item you’d like included because it’s very special and meaningful to your family, discuss it with your photographer ahead of time to see if they can work it into your shoot.
The clothes you wear should make you and your family feel confident and comfortable. Try to choose clothes that each family member could see themselves wearing in real life. That can still be special occasion clothes. But everyone should be wearing outfits that make them smile when they look in the mirror. If you’re uncomfortable in what you wear, that can show up in photos.
Also, avoid dressing too matchy. Think coordinated, not same. Choose colors and outfits that go together and look good next to each other but aren’t exactly the same colors or materials. I wrote a full guide on this in another Blog, “What to Wear to Your Family Photo Shoot.”
The better people feel, the better they look on camera. So make sure to get a full night’s sleep before family photo day. Also, leave yourself plenty of time to get ready before arriving so that you’re not having to rush and stress in the hour leading up to the shoot.
Your fur babies are part of the family too! If you want them to be part of the day, it can make the photos even more special. But always check with your photographer in the early planning phase to see if they allow furry companions in their shoots. Pets can also limit where photos can be taken. Always check to make sure you’ve chosen a pet-friendly location.
A lot of parents are nervous about their kids misbehaving during a shoot. But those organic moments when a kid is having fun and being a goofy kid can make for some of the most memorable, stand-out shots. Also, I’ve noticed that kids listen to their photographer better when parents aren’t giving them instructions at the same time.
So instead of kid wrangling the day of, try preparing children by talking to them ahead of time. Let them know that the photo shoot is going to be a fun day, and that it will be helpful for them to listen to the photographer’s directions.
You’re all together, and you’re all dressed up. So it’s the perfect time to go do something fun! Have a picnic in a park nearby. Make a reservation at a favorite restaurant. Pick out a movie to see. See if there’s are any local events like farmer’s markets or activity fairs you can go to. Go bowling. Or look through this Bay Area activity guide (or a guide from wherever you live) for more ideas.
Whatever you choose, it’s just fun to have a full day together to look forward too. Plus, all that excited energy will really shine through your photos.
With these tips for family photos in mind, you’ll bring extra smiles and love to the shoot, which will help you capture memories worth framing. Here are some of my favorites below—from families who really got it right.