Let’s face it… whether it’s just you, you and your partner, you and your pets, or you and your children, a family photo session can be challenging. And when there is pressure to get that perfect family picture, it can even be stressful.
Now is the time of year where the weather is perfect to get together and take some new photos, whether you want a new family picture to hang on the wall or something to create your holiday cards. Here are a few tips to help you get the perfect low-stress family photo.
1. DECIDE BETWEEN A PROFESSIONAL AND DIY
The first step is to determine whether you want to take your own family photos or hire a professional photographer. Both have pros and cons.
Taking your own photos will cost less and give you more flexibility to try different places and outfits and eliminates any time constraints you may have with a professional. However, you could possibly lose quality of photos, you’ll have to spend time editing them yourself, and photographers can often provide direction and assistance to get that perfect shot that you might not be able to coordinate as easily.
The professional family photo may cost more, but you’ll likely get better and more usable pictures and have a more relaxed experience. If you decide to do it yourself, research how to get the best photo. For example:
- Use a tripod whenever possible.
- Shoot in manual mode for consistency.
- Lock the focus to avoid ongoing focus adjustments.
- Lighting is king, so choose the time of day that will allow for the best lighting. If you need to use a reflector or flash, research how to do so without creating too much reflection.
2. MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS RESTED AND FED
This sounds obvious, but especially if you have children, this is important. If your child still naps, make sure you put them down with plenty of time to allow a full nap and extra time to get them ready and fed. Feed the kids a full meal and pack plenty of snacks to keep them satisfied during the photo shoot. Tired, cranky, hungry kids won’t contribute to a nice photo!Z
Also make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well. Get plenty of rest the night before to avoid those pesky under-eye bags and eat a meal or snack so your stomach isn’t grumbling.
3. PLAN IN ADVANCE
There are a few things you’ll want to do in advance to ensure a smooth photo day:
Plan outfits: Clothing choices can have a huge impact on how much you do or don’t love your family photos. Don’t wait until a few days before the shoot to choose clothes or have the kids try things on. It’s important that everyone feels comfortable in their clothing and are agreeable to what you choose. A photographer can help provide direction on clothing that will photograph well, but it’s most important to choose something you like and that makes you feel good.
Also be sure to bring back- up outfits just in case.
Set expectations: This applies to both yourself, your partner, and/or your kids. Talk to everyone in advance to prepare them for the session. Tell them what to expect, set behavior expectations, and say what you need to in order to ensure everyone will be comfortable and ready.
4. BRING AN ACTIVITY YOU ENJOY
Think about activities your family enjoys together, whether it’s reading, certain toys, or other activities that engage little ones. Having something to do together will not only help you relax, but it can also help you or the photographer capture genuine, storytelling images with authentic smiles. Also think about non-tangible activities you can do like hiking or dancing.
5. LET EVERYONE BE THEMSELVES
You likely don’t want photos where people are stiff, have forced smiles, or look uncomfortable or unhappy. Everyone is different, and especially when it comes to children, letting everyone be themselves will allow you to get the best photos. If you’ve hired a professional, the photographer will help direct your children and they may be more likely to follow directions.
For parents, focus on interacting with your children vs. telling them what to do or disciplining, as you all will appear happier and more relaxed. If your kid wants to wander, let them. You may be able to get some great action and unposed shots.
6. POSE PEOPLE TO FLATTER THEM
If someone feels uncomfortable, they aren’t going to like the photos. Be aware of everyone’s perceived “flaws” and either share them with the photographer or work around them. For example, for someone overly conscious of their weight, don’t pose them walking directly toward or away from the camera. If someone is conscious of their double chin, take a slightly higher camera angle since making them look up minimizes the chin/neck area.
7. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Even if you plan the outfits, tell everyone what to expect, and bring an activity, it’s likely that not everything will go exactly as you anticipated. While you want everything to be perfect, the fact is that we can’t control how everything will go. Kids have off days, outfits may not work out perfectly, or you may be feeling anxious about how your child doesn’t want to smile. Kids pick up on this frustration, so the best thing you can do is take a deep breath and trust that you’ll get at least one shot you can use. If you go into the shoot expecting the unexpected, getting a great family photo will go a lot smoother!
8. RELAX AND HAVE FUN
You’re dressed and ready to go and have arrived at the place you want to do your photos. Now, it’s time to relax and have fun and enjoy spending time with your loved ones. Your photographer will do the heavy lifting when it comes to directing and taking the right shots. Or, if you’re doing it yourself, let yourself snuggle, laugh, play, give hugs and kisses, smile, and enjoy the moment. This will lead to the best shots and a family photo you can all look back on with pleasure.