This post was originally posted on November 17, 2016 but has been updated to include links of our favorite photographers in the area.
Please answer this question honestly --- does anyone like getting family pictures taken?
Like, the getting ready for the pictures... planning the outfits.. and looking at the pictures afterwards is SO FUN but *when* I'm actually in the session I'm like.. "get. me. outta. here."
Family pictures are an investment and a little bit of a pain, but once you have them they’re the best keepsakes to print, to look back on, and to decorate with.
Find a good photographer, duh. We have photographer friends in Las Vegas who took our first family pictures, but when we moved to the east coast, we had to find someone. After stalking a few people on Facebook, Instagram, and other websites I finally find one who I LOVE and who became a good family friend of ours and took our pictures for the next three years. Yeah, it’s easier and cheaper to give your camera to a friend and be like “hey girl, take our family pic.” But once you see the difference of photographers vs set-the-tripod-up-and-run-into-the-shot, you’ll never go back!
- If you live in the Las Vegas and Souther California area you need to use Mike - he does video too!
- If you live in North Carolina in the Fayetteville/Raleigh area you need to use Melissa.
- If you live in the DMV area or anywhere near Virginia, you NEED to use Marla!
Go outside! Yeah, maybe I’m a little bias, but studio pictures are kind of, meh - unless you're doing lifestyle shots in your home. Don't get me wrong! Our first family pictures were taken in a studio and they turned out beautiful (because we had a super talented friend with a good studio set up and posed us very naturally).
But go outside! Have some buildings in your background, or trees, the beach, or anything! The natural God-given light is so much prettier and better than indoor, studio light. Also, if you have kids, kids love being outside much more than being inside.
Studio Pictures by the talented Mike Perez Photography
Outdoor photos by M.D. Photography please note: firetruck
Plan Outfits and Coordinate – Don’t Match. Find a color palette that looks good on your family and find coordinating, themed outfits. Don’t make your family match. Some family pictures look good all matching, but the majority look cheesy. When you’re close and all wearing jeans and white button up shirts, it won’t photograph well since everyone will look like one big mass. Find a color palette! You can never go wrong with neutrals. When it's warm outside you can wear bright neutrals or pastels! When it's cold? You can wear earth tone or jewel colors.
Also, figure out a theme. It would look weird if you have a red lip and winged eyeliner serving me 1950s retro vibes while your kids are in their Sunday best and your spouse is in athleisure.
One time we took pictures in the city, so we dressy. We were in a historic area of a city so we just wore every casual... etc. After you figure out your location, plan outfits accordingly!
Eat. Okay, so you want to be skinny in your pictures, don’t we all? But nothing screams “terrible time” more than low blood sugar and hanger. Feed yourself, feed your family, figure out a flattering outfit, suck in, or don’t suck in. Just eat a snack before you go and get your pictures taken, your belly and your family will thank you.
THINK OF THE CHILDREN. I don’t know about you but when I want my kids to behave, they don’t and when I don’t care how they act because we’re at home, they’re angels. So it’s inevitable: they will get their outfit dirty when you’re taking pictures, they won’t smile when you need them to, they will get distracted and want to look at anything else but the camera and its okay. They will give the photographer great smiles but also priceless faces, so just let them be and bribe them with a donut or something after pictures are done.
Stage a little, but be genuine. How would you like looking at pictures of properly posed families? I'm sure your family is beautiful and have beautiful smiles, but it would get old after 3 pages of plastered-smiles-looking-at-the-camera. Kiss your kids, kiss your spouse, laugh, interact with each other, bring your dog, throw leaves, give your kid a Laffy Taffy and have the photographer take pictures of the funny face your kids make when they chew them, throw your kid in the air, or hold them upside down.
Let the kids bring a toy. When my son was about 2, he had this weird attachment to weird toys and would lose his mind when the toy wasn’t within a few feet of him. So naturally, they had to come with us when we took our family pictures. At first, I was like “NO. WAY.” but then I just had to suck it up and pick my battles. Did I want a grumpy angry kid in the pictures? No. Can I sacrifice having Godzilla in the pictures for an adorable smile? Sure. Pick your battles, parents. Let them bring the weird toy, get your pictures taken, and look back and think about how darling your kids are before they started talking back and not turning in their homework.
Hi, Godzilla! MD Photography
SHARE. Last but not least, share your pictures! I want to see them, your friends, your family, your coworker, the internet…etc. wants to see them! We want to see the weird toy, the funny faces the kids make, the cute coordinating non-matching outfits you picked out. What’s the point of taking pictures of your beautiful family if no one gets to see them?
Here's some inspo if you're taking pics in the spring or summer!
Do you get family pictures done? Share some of your tips on family photo shoot survival!