Tips for Taking Professional Family Photos

Just one good family photo. That’s all I want. Is that too much to ask?

Can we not all look at the camera at the same time AND smile? One photo that isn’t super dark? And what’s up with red eye casting demons into my small children in what would otherwise be that perfect picture I’m obsessed with getting?

Do these wiggly children have a clue how much these professional photography sessions cost? I really wish it were appropriate to deduct from my child’s college fund every time they waste my money. 

Okay, so maybe I don’t really wish that but I do hope that by the time they actually go to college, I’ll have at least one smiley pic to tote in my mom bag. I’ll need something to share with strangers that hardly care.

As I’m about to share with you tips for a bettering your picture perfect chances, the irony of not having my own perfect image isn’t lost on me.

Regardless, here are my tips for taking professional family photos successfully: 

  1. Search Pinterest for “family photo wardrobe” ideas. You’ll find plenty of color inspiration and tips on mixing solids, patterns and choosing colors that flatter a group or individual. Go in with low expectations. I think that is my “mom motto” anyway.
  2. Outdoors? Take bug spray. And itch cream. It’s hard to smile when you’re contracting Zika while watching your feet puff up from the fire ants you just stepped in.
  3. Water and snacks. For everything in life. But especially picture taking. No one has time for hangry outtakes.
  4. Think ahead about special props or items that could personalize your photos. Quilts, football, doll or stuffed animal, chalkboard signs with special messages, etc.
  5. Be wise with scheduling. Avoid witching hour and pick times when everyone is typically in a good mood.
  6. Be mindful of session length. While a mini-session may be easy for older kids, I tend to think smaller children do better with less pressure and rushing.
  7. Take a friend or family member to stand behind the photographer and make the kids laugh.
  8. Either leave the pets at home or have someone there to specifically help with them.
  9. When it comes to cost, you get what you pay for and it’s not as simple as the 30-60 minutes you spent with that photographer. Your payment is covering: equipment, taxes, insurance, website, business cards, advertising, travel, hours spent on editing and so on. Find a price point you can handle but do some serious research on their portfolio.
  10. For the best result, get your prints through your photographer’s printing lab. The coloring is much better than the pharmacy photo shop. So again, you get what you pay for.

And truth be told, as much as I want that “perfect” picture, I try to tell myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. It’s not worth the fighting behind the scenes, feeling rushed and missing beautiful documentation of just who we are as we are. I have a friend in town that has started going into homes and photographing the entire day. Waking up, brushing teeth, running errands, wrestling with dad. The real stuff. And those moments are just as perfect.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here