Ahhh the family photo. Immortalized on our walls for all to see, and (more importantly) coveted by all our friends and relatives on our annual holiday greeting cards. Mothers romanticize them, Fathers dread them, and kids run wild with the spirit of freshly released banshees. In truth, we all know that family photo day can either go really really great or bomb in the most dramatic way. The trick is knowing how to make the most of this iconic hallmark of the season. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve drummed up in my decade of shooting family portraits, as well as the countless hours I’ve spent shooting and modeling with my little clan for my travel and lifestyle blog.
1. Less is More aka Keep it Simple
If family portraits tend to be stressful for your family or if this is your first run, do yourself a favor and keep it simple. We all love the Pinterest images full of props and stylized accessories, however, in reality, that’s a lot of moving parts to be concerned with. In addition, if these images are going on your walls, it’s smart to keep them as fuss-free as possible so it will blend with your decor more. Most successful images are centered more on the subjects than the stuff.
2.Coordination is Key
Times are a changing and gratefully so. These days when it comes to style, it’s less about everyone wearing the same matching denim outfit and more about expressing individual style in a coordinating way. Our rule of thumb is to pick three or four colors and keep prints to a minimum. Have fun with layering if that’s your thing, and let your children’s personality shine. Your whole family will be more comfortable if they can be themselves. If you plan on hanging this portrait on the wall, it’s a great idea to choose your colors based on what will complement your current decor. This could mean keeping it neutral.
3.The Early Bird Stresses Out Less
Instead of scheduling your family photos during the hottest time of year (Oct 31st- Dec 12th), get ahead of the rush and pick something earlier in October. Too late? Opt for a quick shoot during the week (as weekends will already be sold out). This may require you to take off early from work due to earlier sunset hours. Just remember, the less stressed you are, the more natural your images will be.
4.Get Moving- Make Fun a Factor
These days a great family photo is less about posing and more about moving. A great lifestyle photographer will have you walking, laughing, and chasing after those beautiful babes. To create a fun chase scene. Place your little tots up front and on the count of three have the family try to “catch them”. The look of delight in your kid’s face will be worth working up a sweat for. Not into running? Bring a giant lollipop and watch them go to town in glee.
5.Mother Nature Doesn’t Always Know Best
Here’s a tip moms: Nature and perfect hair don’t mix. Living at the beach we had lots of moms have mini melt-downs over their perfect blowout getting ripped to shreds by the blustery coastal weather. Be prepared for unpredictable conditions. Most photographers will shoot as long as it’s not raining. Have a cute hat available on back-up just in case, or consider a creative in-home alternative. Possibilities could include the entire family in PJs jumping on a bed or making your favorite pancakes. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box.
6.Timing is Everything
At the end of the day you only really need three to four successful images. With this in mind, make everyone your friend and book a mini session which consists of a super fun fifteen minutes. We found these mini sessions to be most successful because that’s usually where your best photos happen anyway. Dad’s and kids expire after those first fifteen, and (bonus) mini sessions are more cost-effective. Dad will thank you and you will still be fresh for dinner and a celebratory glass of wine after. And yes, it’s totally ok to pat yourself on the back.
Good luck out there! And let us know how it went!
If you liked Amy’s tips on photos and family life, check out more from her at Amy West Travel.