Having that perfectly staged, semi-natural family photo sitting above the mantle can sometimes feel like an insurmountable dream reserved for only the most organized of families. Maybe you dream of a shimmery summer shoot of you and your kids at the beach or, if you and yours aren't crazy about all that sand, maybe you'd prefer some photos of your family posing in a leafy, green garden surrounded by lush foliage! Then again, maybe the outdoors don't speak to you; maybe instead, you envision a portrait taken in your tastefully-decorated living room. Or maybe you’ve just resorted to hoping for a semi-decent photo where everyone's clothes look clean and nobody is fighting mid-shot (and even that seems like too much of an ask).
Even if it may not feel like it, professional photos of your family are easily achievable, even for those who would lovingly describe their households as “chaotic” or “crazy!” If you follow these seven tips, even the rowdiest, most energetic of groups could deliver a photogenic masterpiece. Here’s how to prepare for a family photo shoot and see success.
Make Your Location Work For You
Finding a place to start for your first family photo shoot can feel overwhelming, but a great grounding point is the location. The options are endless, and can be tailored for your personal family preferences. You could do the shoot at a lake when the weather is nice, at a park if you want your kids to have a place to run around between takes,, or even a nice room in your home, if that feels best! Whatever you decide, make a choice based on what works best for your family specifically, and try to choose a place that you enjoy. That way, even if (or, more likely, when) the photographer asks you to smile for the tenth time and your arms feel like they're going to fall off from holding your baby up in an oh-so-not-natural pose, at least you can enjoy the scenery!
Get A Good Start
Make sure this photoshoot isn’t a surprise to anyone. Keep everyone informed with plenty of time to clear their schedules so they can keep their commitment! You don't want your kids moaning and groaning about losing their weekend, or your husband suddenly insisting that "Saturdays are for the boys."
Do your best to turn this into a fun family event! It really can be an enjoyable experience, depending on what attitude everyone brings to the table. If you need to, you can also add an incentive for cooperation: after the photo shoot, the family could go get dinner at a restaurant everyone enjoys, or go to the movies for a fun film. It’s all about offering whatever would motivate everyone to put their best foot forward!
Consult With Your Photographer
If you’re drawing a blank on your perfect family photo, don't panic: your photographer probably has plenty of good ideas. After all, they do photoshoots all the time! So if you're stumped, bouncing ideas off of your photographer can be a great place to start developing your perfect vision. You can also do some online research on your own; Pinterest has great inspiration boards for any occasion!
Come Prepared to the Family Photo Shoot
Whatever type of photoshoot you’re preparing for, be sure to bring the necessary supplies. Say you're going to the beach: bring some towels, sunscreen, snacks (let’s be real: always bring snacks), and water! If you want your dog in the pictures, bring a leash and some treats; maybe even arrange for someone to pick him up so that he's not running around, disrupting the rest of the shoot while you snap some canine-free pictures. If you have little ones, you might want to bring an extra set of clothes for any accidents, or simply for a variety of looks.
Like I said above, consider bringing snacks too, especially if your family is notorious for their bouts of hangry tantrums. Daisy Beatty Photography recommends foods that aren't messy; she says to pack things that are easy to eat quickly, like jelly beans, cheese cubes, or dried fruit.
Include Your Interests
Is there an activity you and your family all enjoy together? Think about including it in your family photoshoot! The joy you get from your hobbies will shine through and enhance the photos. Blowing bubbles or playing catch are great examples. Also, if anyone is camera-shy, having something fun and familiar to do can be relaxing!
Be Realistic With Clothing Choices
Even if you know you look amazing in your four-inch heels, if you're not going to be able to stand for an hour in them, don't wear them! Make sure everyone is well-dressed, but be sure to stay in your family’s comfort zone. Keep it casual, and keep it comfortable! You're all going to be moving around, trying out different poses, so you’ll want to be able to put your best foot forward (literally)!
Stick to clean, ironed clothes that you can move in. Pick something you like, that you think looks good on you! You want to wear something you feel confident in. It’s best to avoid clothes with logos, text, or distracting patterns: you want to keep the focus on the family. If you need a little inspiration, you can also look here!
If you're constantly fussing over your kids or bickering with your partner, your cranky mood will make it into the photos. It’s true, and it’s what you’ll remember from that photo, even if you’re wearing your best "everything-is-fine" face.
Make sure you take a moment for yourself to pause, relax, and enjoy this time with your family. If you're in a good mood, everyone else will be in a good mood, and your photos will be that much better. Remember: this can (and should!) be a fun experience, maybe even an annual tradition. It’s a great thing to do if you are a family that loves photo albums! Do your best to prepare, be yourselves, have fun, keep it casual, and the photographer will capture your joy.