As a parent, it is your joy to take memories of your family together. Perhaps you want to take a new family picture for your holiday card this year. Or you might simply like to capture your kids at a certain age and have a photo to look back to when they have all grown up, and you have grown older. Maybe, you have a new baby or a new member of the family, and you want to update your family picture. Whatever your reason is, it’s a good thing to have a remembrance of what your family looked like at a certain time and cherish the present through beautiful photos.
You’ll often see sun-kissed photos of smiling families lying on the grass, reclining on beaches, strolling through parks, or enjoying ice cream, or blowing bubbles. But the off-camera reality of family photography is often stressful and far less magical. Parents (especially the moms) are more exhausted and high-strung, children are whiny, and the pet is only determined to turn his tushy to the camera.
To take beautiful family photos and to make sure everything goes well (as much as possible), here’s what you need to do when planning for the picture day.
1. Choose the right photographer
Choose a photographer whom you think your family will get comfortable with. Choose one wisely and try not to base the decision on price only. The photographer will orchestrate the shoot for you, so make sure you like their vision, style, and consistency. Look through portfolios and websites and find a photographer that suits your style. Having the right photographer at the shoot will make everything less stressful and more enjoyable.
Pick a simple location
Some families like to shoot in the same studio or location every year, while some like to change things up. Whatever you do, make sure that your area is right and look suitable in the season you are photographing.
Sometimes, the simplest spots make for the most beautiful shots. Posing for a lovely family portrait doesn’t require wide-open fields beside a mountain, large fields of flowers, or big architectural wonders. These backdrops can be great, but when push comes to shove, it’s best to choose a location that offers the best outcome. For instance, an open shade with a gentle light or the sun-free side of a building is a great location. Anywhere where light is soft, and even, you can shoot your heart out.
Plan it at a proper time of the day
The time and day of your photoshoot are going to make or break your photos. Do you want gorgeous golden hour photos? Schedule your shoot during that time of the day, even if it means adjusting your regular schedule that day so everyone can be well-rested and on their best behavior.
Plan the family outfit in advance
Besides the time and location, the most important thing to plan is your family’s outfit for the shoot. The idea is to look coordinated to showcase an atmosphere of togetherness. This doesn’t mean you have to get dressed in identical clothes (for instance, matching sweaters for Christmas).
A good place to start is deciding whether you like casual or formal photos. Choose one and wear the same style of clothes. If you pick a casual theme, all must wear casual. If one is wearing an elegant attire, then all must dress sharp. If you like your daughter to wear a princess dress, then don’t dress your little boy in a graphic cartoon T-shirt.
Plan the mom’s outfit first
After choosing the style and plan your outfit first. More likely than not, the hardest person to dress is you, the mom. Choose an outfit you feel amazing in and comfortable with. The best outfits are those that will pass the test of time, and not a getup that you will regret after a few years. The rest of the outfits of the family members can be coordinated around it. You might even go with something fun like a reindeer outfit like these https://www.blossomcostumes.com.au/themes/events-and-occasions-costume/christmas-costumes-and-accessories/reindeer.html
Choose comfortable clothes
For best results, choose clothes that feel comfortable for everyone while still maintaining a certain look. Uncomfortable clothing can lead to fussy kids and self-conscious adults, and it will show in the photos. Before you confirm your outfit of choice, try it all on. See if it fits nicely and if it looks polished on you. Try sitting, kneeling, squatting, lifting, and carrying your kids. Does it still feel comfortable and look great? Then, you have your outfit. You don’t want a dress or outfit that will limit your movement and make you unwilling to try something fun.
Pick a color scheme and coordinate
You don’t have to wear clothes in the same colors (but you could if you want to). You can go neutrals with a pop of one or two accent colors. You can choose a summer or fall-themed color palette. Or perhaps you’d like to stick to the clean look of classic white and jeans look. This way, you can look nice without being too matchy-matchy. Try to lay out everyone’s outfits together to see how it will look like as a group. And once you pick a color scheme, be sure to keep in mind where you will be hanging the photo, so you can try your best to match your interior décor.
Avoid distracting outfits
The subject of your family photos must be your family – not your outfits nor the background. Avoid noisy patterns, loud and bright colors, large logos, or holiday-specific props. It’s also best to keep the busy patterns to a minimum. If you want to play dress up and wear costumes, keep it related to one another. If you choose a Justice League superhero costume for one person, then coordinate it for the rest – having random costumes will not make you look coordinated and united as a family.
Change it up
If you can’t make a full outfit change in between takes, at least have an accessory that you can change or remove during the shoot, like a headband, jacket, vest, scarf, cardigan, hat, sunglasses, bowtie, or something that can be taken off quickly. It’s great to have pops of color that can be removed easily, leaving you with a more neutral palette for some of the pictures. This will add variety to your photos, even if you’re wearing the same outfit from picture #1 to picture #265.
Primp in advance
Plan your eyebrow waxing, facial, eyelash extensions, hair colors, haircuts, or manicures at least a few days before the shoot. This way, you won’t have irritated skin, a new haircut that you don’t know how to style, or a dye on your scalp on the day of the shoot.
Feed your children beforehand
It seems so obvious, but sometimes the stress of getting everything good and ready means snacks and meals are skipped. Make sure everyone is well-fed before the photoshoot starts. Kids become grumpy when their hungry, and even some adults as well.
Get your family psyched ahead of time
Get your kids and unwilling adults excited about the shoot ahead of time. If they view it as a fun thing, they will hopefully bring their A-game.
Go natural with the poses
Choose poses that incorporate the natural interactions in the family. Many amazing photoshoots miraculously come together out of the chaos, while photoshoots can be ruined by stressing out on tiny details. Be somewhere in the middle, relax, and enjoy easy living photography by making your poses natural. You don’t want to be the one who ruined the photos because you’re too worried about the details.
Let your kids be kids – don’t put too much pressure on them as they will appear frustrated and upset on the photos. If they don’t want to sit and smile, don’t force them; instead, let them run around if they please, and shoot that. They will cooperate with you better once you give them some freedom.
Pick your battles
It won’t matter if your little toddler refuses to wear the hat you brought. Forcing it might add extra stress to the child. Don’t use your precious shooting time to bargain with your child and convince the child to do what you want them to do. The shoot must be fun and light, not a lecture moment and a stand-off.
Manage your expectations
Don’t expect everything to be perfect; it won’t be. You can’t predict how your kids will behave, no matter how much you prep them. Remember, kids will be kids, and things can go wrong during a photography session. If you want to make family photo time an enjoyable experience – something your kids won’t dread repeating the next year – let their personalities shine.
You may also not get the other poses you planned due to time constraints, the photographer’s inputs, and others. You won’t get the super perfect pictures on your photographer’s website – you’ll get something much better: unique, beautiful photos of the people you love most.
The most important thing is to have fun, relax, and treasure the time you have with one another because your kids won’t stay little forever.