Family photos are a beautiful way to capture a moment in your history. But let's be real. They can also cause stress and the actual day of can be more awkward than your junior high dances. I'm telling you, it CAN be fun and CAN be enjoyable but not without some prior planning. The more you plan ahead and think things through a bit, the easier it will be on everyone! I found this out the hard way last year...read more here. So I decided to gather a few helpful tips FROM my friends FOR my friends and hopefully it helps some of you!! Also, for the past few years I have been ordering my Holiday Cards from Minted, their designs are incredible and support indie designers. WIn win! Click here for $25 off & free shipping. Here's a list of the top 25 things you can do to get the photos you want.
1. Consider the location to determine outfits: A little thought to the coordination may make you happier. For example, if you are in a field or meadow you may want to consider lighter, flowy fabrics in whites and pale colors. If you are going a more urban downtown feel you may want more textures, a chambray or plaid shirt.
2. Prioritize your wants: "Take whatever pictures are most important first." Says Melissa Miller, mother of two and family photo extraordinaire. Do you want ones of just the kids? Just the two of you? Decide which photos you must have and get those taken care of first.
3. Arrive on time: Nothing worse than feeling rushed and starting late. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at location and to respect everyone's time including the phototgrapher. This will make for a less stressed time and will be more enjoyable if you don't start off on the wrong foot.
4. Trust your photographer: "We usually see things a bit differently, so trust us." Says Penny Sylvia, Professional Photographer. You may see a brick wall, but to the artist eye, they see a gorgeous backdrop of texture and magic. Trust they know what they are doing...that's what you hired them for, right??
5. Consider time of day when shooting. Are naps needed for little one? Will there be good lighting? (avoid times when in direct sunlight, aim for times right before sunset or morning hours before sun is highest in sky)
6. Have outift options or accessories to add or take away: If your family will have the patience to change clothes, it will give you more options in the end. Also bringing a few fun accessories like a hat, scarf, necklace, etc. could bring some fun into the shoot.
7. Add texture: Fur, tulle, lace, velvet, floral, cable knit. Whatever adds a bit of dimension to the outfit works well. If you are mixing a few different textures, just make sure they all fall within the same color family to avoid competing patterns.
8. Don't be matchy matchy: No all black or all white with denim. You can shake it up and add a little zing to your photos!! It will make for a more exciting image and will come through a bit better than all wearing the same color and having the tendency to blend together.
9. Coordinate your prints: Select 1-2 people (depending how many total are in the photos) to have the more stand out prints/textrues. Keeping in mind you want to still have clothes in non-competing colors. For example, have the parents in prints and the kids in all white.
10. Consider if jeans are appropriate: Some times they may be and others maybe not. If there is other elements of blue in the outfits then this works. "The biggest mistake I see is everyone in lighter colors and then the Dad in dark blue jeans." Says Miller. The eye will go straight to whatever is darkest, so it almost stands out like a sore thumb. If wanting to appear sleeker (as I did in my maternity photo) the black creates a long line with the lighter sweater on top and texture of the leopard print on my shoes made me feel comfortable, yet added a fun print to the outfit.
11. Flowy fabric: this is such a fun element for a mom or daughter to wear. A beautiful flowy dress that can catch the wind would make for an amazing photo opp! It gives that feeling of effortless.
12. Dress timeless: of course we will probably hate what you wore in your photos ten years from now, but consider not taking the "too trendy" route with your wardrobe or your hairstyle. It will give you better odds of not showing up on the "bad photos we paid for" segment on Ellen.
13. Don't be afraid: to wear something you may not wear in real life. These photos are a fun way to express yourself and your family so have fun and be a little whimsical if that fits your personality.
14. Wear colors you would like to see on your walls: Do you have an all white kitchen, grey walls, or maybe you love pops of color and have gorgeous accent walls throughout the house. Whatever you style is, use your photos as great accessories to the home. When you have the photos blown up to canvas or framed, you will be happier if they go with your decorating style as well.
15. Bring a blanket & a prop: You may want to sit down so it's better to have one you don't mind being in the shot than something random. A prop is a great idea to add a personal touch to your photos. (See photo below)
16. Avoid saying words like "stop, no, don't." Unless the childs safety is at hand, let them wander and explore. Sylvia says to let things shake down the way they will; it usually all works out great."
17. If someone is sick reschedule: "Seriously reschedule - a photographer can edit a lot of things, but someone not feeling well is not one of those things." Says Sylvia. Penny also adds that "You’ll probably take photos many times throughout your family growing and you want to make it a positive experience.".
18. Embrace the candids: Some of my favorite photos are ones when not everyone is looking at the camera. Maybe we are giving a hug, or laughing or showing compassion for one another. The best photos aren't necessarily the posed ones with everyone looking. Embrace personality in your photos and I am sure you will be pleased with what you see.
19. Go with the flow: relax...relax..relax...Can't emphasize this enough!! Some of the best art captured by your photographer will be "in the moment" so go with it. You may not even realize your photographer is even shooting...those ones are my fave!
20. Eat before: make sure everyone has eaten prior to avoid a case of the grumpies. If you have a little one who may need a snack, try to feed them before you arrive. If you absolutely have to give them something, make sure it can be eaten quickly and doesn't make any mess. The last thing you want is food in someones mouth or peaunut butter on your dress.
21. Think of the shoes: Try them on the night before to make sure they are comfortable and heaven forbid still fit! (Those toddler feet grow like weeds!) Professional Photographer, Sylvia says "If you have little ones think of their shoes and the location, you may have to pick them up and down and you want to be careful of mud, I suggest bringing along some wipes."
22. Let teens be teens: "Try really hard not to say “no , your real smile” nothing makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck more. Trust the photographer and maybe even step away. Being a teen is tough, the more pressure on the photograph the more pressure they will feel and stress out …just relax and trust the photographer on this one." Suggests Penny.
23. Have bribes & use wisely: Yep, bribes will work and they work well. So have a few on hand. One thing to think about is if you give them the bribe half way through, expect that bribe to be in ever.single.photo. Maybe talk about the bribe if they are old enough and use it to get them do what you want.
24. Pick a flower: find an object to give to your little ones to keep them sitting still, it could be a flower or stick, but just make sure its something you won't mind in the photos. Miller uses this trick and it works like a charm!
25. Have fun: obvious right? We can get a little caught in the moment of a whiny kid or pouting teen...or husband and forget to enjoy the moment. These are images you can cherish for generations to come so they should capture your beautiful family being themselves. Take a moment to take in the blessings of your family. Penny suggests to "love eachother, hug eachother, look for adventure and be you!"
Have any to add that helped you?? Please add them in the comments below...Thanks for reading and good luck with your photos! Click here for $25 off your Minted order + free shipping!
follow erin on instagram @livinglately
Photos by Penny Sylvia Photography