How to Capture the Perfect Family Photo

Family Photography Tips from the Professionals

Every year, I look forward to pulling out the special box where I keep our friends’ and family’s holiday cards from Christmases past. I love that trip down memory lane, seeing our old hairstyles and matching outfits (because whose mom didn’t have the idea to wear jeans and a white shirt for a family photo?).

Family Photography | What to Wear for Family Photos | Photography Tips
Photo Courtesy of Heather Holt Photo

Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to Instagram filters and Pinterest boards, because it seems that the bar for family photos has been raised. We all want a picture-perfect photo that captures our unique personalities and the love we feel for one another.

But capturing that perfect moment involves more than just saying, “cheese.” So we’ve gathered some of our favorite family and lifestyle photographers to answer your questions and offer their best tips and tricks for getting a family picture you’ll cherish for years to come—and your future self won’t laugh (or cringe) at ten years down the road!

What to Wear

What to Wear for Family Photos | Family Photo Shoot
Photo Courtesy of Lauren Louise Photography

The first question people usually ask is, “What should we wear?” The most important thing to feel during your family session is comfortable and yourself. You want your clothing and accessories to reflect you and your family’s personality and style!

A good rule of thumb is to choose a color palette with three colors, and to stay away from over-matching. I always advise my families to coordinate colors and patterns together. For example, if you’ve decided to put your little one in a patterned dress then the adults might want to stick to solids.

Coordinate Outfits | What to Wear for Family Photos | Photography Tips
Photo Courtesy of Lauren Louise Photography

Choose a color palette that’s vibrant but understated and stay away from distracting logos. I also suggest layering your outfits to create some diversity in your images. Accessories that you can take on and off help, as well. Think jewelry, hats, scarves, cropped jackets, etc. –Lauren Miller, Lauren Louise Photography

Posing Pointers

Posing for Photos | Perfect Family Photos | Photography Tips
Photo Courtesy ofHeather Holt Photo

Throughout the years I have found some great ways to make my clients feel more relaxed during photo sessions. My goal is always to get a genuine moment from them, even if they’re not looking at the camera.

Here are a few successful posing pointers:

  1. Pile on! Sometimes standing up straight and still can be hard for little kids. I also love to get all the members of the family’s heads close together. So I usually have Dad sit down, pile on some kids and have mom come up and give a big group hug! (giggles are an extra perk)
  2. Play time! Sometimes it’s extra hard for Dads to feel relaxed, let’s face it, they probably weren’t the one who booked the photographer and chose the matching outfits! But what are Dads good at? Play time! Have Daddy throw a child in the air – it’s a 2-smile guarantee!
  3. Comfort Pose! Being a Mom of twins myself, I know when it was time for family photos I did not feel comfortable in front of the camera, but I really wanted a sweet photo of us 4. So, give Daddy the baby/babies, and just nuzzle up behind. This way, Mommy can feel comfortable with herself while having the new Mommy glow, and Daddy looks very proud holding the newest family members! Always a favorite photo moment for me! –Heather Holt, Heather Holt Photo

Be Flexible

If the kids aren’t cooperating or not in the mood to smile, give them a break; continuing to take photos while a child is upset or crabby usually reflects on the parents’ faces too, and never makes for a good photo. Take a few minutes; give the kiddos a snack or drink, and then try again, maybe in a new spot or pose!

Family Photography Tips | Let Kids Play and Take Breaks
Photo Courtesy of Brittany Anderson

In this example, the baby had no interest in taking photos when we placed him on the sand. All he could focus on was eating the sand and mashing his blocks further into the ground.

So we scratched that idea and picked him up again. Once we changed his scenery we were able to capture him smiling and looking at the camera!

Family Photography | Smiling Kid| Photography Tips
Photo Courtesy of Brittany Anderson
Family Photography | Outdoor Pictures | Photography Tips
Photo Courtesy ofBrittany Anderson

If you’ve chosen an outdoor location, there’s a chance the weather might not cooperate—just go with it! Instead of becoming upset and frazzled with the rain, this family whipped out the umbrellas and had a little fun! –Brittany Anderson

We hope these tips made planning your family pictures a little bit easier! May your photos be merry and bright!

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