5 Tips to Make your Family Photoshoot a Success

Chances are, you’ve already taken your family Christmas picture or you are about to this weekend.  If you are anything like me, you’ve carefully chosen outfits (probably just purchased some), chosen the photographer and location, and have all your hopes pinned on getting that perfect image for your Christmas card.  You know the one that makes everyone think you are The Perfect Family:  Beautiful.  Stylish.  Always smiling.  But behind the scenes, you know the truth.  Your family barely survives these photoshoots without a scrappy fight or two.

If this has ever happened to you, here are some solid tips that will keep everyone happy and give you some beautiful family photos that you’ll treasure for years to come.

  1.  Give yourself plenty of time to get ready (and get to your destination early).  During the holidays, our schedules are crazy.  Getting everyone ready for a photoshoot can be challenging, especially when we have a lot of things happening each day.  So, here’s the challenge:  don’t jam pack your photoshoot day.  Remove as much stress as you can and make the shoot a festive event for your family.  While you are getting ready, turn on some music, burn a holiday candle, and get everyone excited prior to leaving.  Have an after-shoot destination planned like ice skating, dinner or the movies, to celebrate your success!
  2. EAT something.  Ok, this is where I have personally failed BIG time.  This year, my first photoshoot with the kids, was a massive FAIL.  I had purchased amazing outfits for my kids from Zara, picked a great location, taken my own advice in step one… but forgot that none of us ate lunch before we left.  So, we arrived at the location a hangry (hungry & angry) mess.  It was bad.  I was the photographer and didn’t show my family the same kindness I show clients.  I was snippy and impatient, my kids were disinterested, my son ended up crying.  Yeah.  Stellar parenting, I know.  We didn’t get a single decent group shot, so we had to go for round 2 and shoot again.  We would have saved ourselves a lot of trouble had we just eaten a snack.  Or 12.
  3. Give everyone a few minutes to warm up.  In other words, turn off the pressure to perform.  Allow everyone the first 5 minutes to just warm up in front of the camera.  I know those mini-sessions are short, but you don’t need 50 perfect images, you only need a few for that Christmas card.  Let this be a pleasant experience, so give your family grace and time to adjust.
  4. Trust your photographer.  You’ve hired this person to take beautiful images of your family.  So, let them do their job… and don’t look at your child continually to fix their outfit or correct posture.  Please don’t tell them to say cheese.  Seriously.  Let the professional coach your family and draw out those real, authentic moments of connection.
    Shop G’s outfit:
    Cat & Jack Red Flannel Long Sleeve Button Down
    Cat & Jack Pullover Sweater (similar)
    Zara Skinny Chinos in Ochre (similar)
    Zara Leather Lace-up Ankle boots (wingtip)
    Shop I’s outfit:
    Zara Mustard Lace Shirt
    Zara Leggings with Wide Elastic Waistband
    Gap Beanie (similar)
    Old Navy Flannel Boyfriend tunic (similar)
    Mossimo Women’s Magda Lace-up Tall Boots
    Shop O’s outfit:
    Art Class Cream Ruffled Shirt
    Xhilaration Faux Fur Vest (similar)
    Cat & Jack Striped Leggings
    Faux Fur Trimmed boots (similar)
  5. Relax and let your kids have fun.  Every year, every season, is different.  Photograph what is real in this one.  Let your kids personalities come out and give them a few minutes to just have fun with the shoot.  During my second shoot this year, I photographed my kids in about 20 minutes and half that time was dedicated to whatever they wanted to do.  I realized, this year I wasn’t going to get the “perfect” shot.  Because that’s not where we are at as a family.  We aren’t posed and polished… but we’re in a season of seeking/choosing joy.  So, what made sense was the silly, candid, happy moments of connection.  Those are my favorite images anyway.  Because “heart present over picture perfect” is what you’ll look back on and be grateful you captured.
    This (below) is what I think of “say cheese.”  🙂  lol!

For the record:  these images were from the second Christmas photoshoot.  Not the photoshoot in brand new outfits, with perfect hair at the perfect location.  This one was shot behind a local shopping plaza, when everyone was happy and well-fed.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, to be wonderful.  🙂

A few more bonus tips:  PLAY MUSIC from your phone while the kids are being photographed!  All of the playful shots above were shot when my kids got to hear “their” song.  Other ideas:  bring snacks, plan around nap time (for littles – or bigs;), and make sure to bring blankets if the weather gets cold.  Bug spray and sunscreen for warmer weather sessions and something to drink for longer shoots.

Hope this helps take some of the stress out of your family photo session, and that you’ll get the images that truly capture the heart of your family.

With gratitude and joy,


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