Fall is upon us: the best season for family photos and the time of year I always dreaded growing up.
Staged photos, my stressed mom, an outfit I neither picked nor felt comfortable in, and an hour or two standing stiff in a field made me hate family photos - and it became a strenuous event for everyone involved.
But as an adult, I realized: family photos don't have to be a tragedy, even for the kids. They can be fun - if you're intentional about it. And often, when the whole family is roped in, the photos turn out better anyway.
So if you dread family photos every year, fear not. There's hope! Here are 13 tips to keep you kids happy, have a great time, and get great family photos this year:
1. Limit Staged Photos - Opt for Candid
You might be a fan of the staged photo look for Christmas cards, but trust me: candid photos always feel more natural and capture your family's true personality better every time! Don't restrain your kids by forcing them to stand still for an hour. Let them run, play, chase - their smiles will be genuine, and your pictures will show true joy.
2. Don't Pose for Too Long
For staged poses where your family has to hold still, don't pose for too long. Kids won't be able to stay still as long as you, and pushing them too far can cause meltdowns (which isn't fun for anyone). Keep your staged poses short and sweet!
3. Hire a Photographer
At the end of the day, you'll want to hire a photographer. They'll be able to guide you through the process, show you which poses look good, and give you prompts to get excellent "candid" photos. View it as an investment: you'll treasure these photos for years to come, so it's okay to splurge a little bit. Don't ask your friend who likes taking photos from time to time for a favor. Hire a real, professional photographer - you won't regret it.
4. Pick the Right Time
Early fall is the sweet spot for family photos. You get that perfect mix between warm, mild weather and beautiful fall color. But it's also important to pick the right time of day. Most photographers will opt for "golden hour," the time of the day when the sun is just setting. Discuss the ideal time for your family with your photographer so you can create a game plan.
5. Bring Clean Snacks & Cute Toys
Your kids might need some distractions along the way. Make sure to bring clean snacks like fruit snacks or crackers to keep their bellies full. Avoid messy food like chocolate or crumbly granola bars. Cute toys can keep your kids entertained, and if they sneak into a photo or two it won't be the end of the world (because they're cute!) Bringing your child's favorite blanket or stuffed animal is also a great idea - a comfort item can calm stress and keep tantrums at bay.
6. Play Games
As you aim for those perfect photos, play games with your kids. Not only will it keep them engaged and excited, but it gives your photographer the perfect opportunity to snag some adorable candids. Your photographer will probably have a few game ideas up their sleeve, but come with a few extra ideas locked and loaded just in case. You know your kids best, and you know which games they love!
7. Let Your Photographer Guide You
We get it: you want the perfect photos, and you're paying for your photographer's time! Trust their vision, trust their guidance, and let them control the session. As much as you know which photos you want, they know how to pose and prompt you and your family. Give them the reigns.
8. Budget Plenty of Time to Get Ready
One of the most stressful parts of family picture day is getting ready beforehand. Make sure you have plenty of time to get ready yourself and the kids ready. Feeling rushed as you get out the door only adds stress to the day.
9. Dress Your Kids in Comfortable Clothing
You might have an adorable outfit planned for your kids, but if they don't want to wear it because it's uncomfortable, forcing them will only make the experience worse. Plan outfits ahead of time your kids like and feel comfortable in. Give them choices so they're involved in the process! Reach a compromise so everyone's happy.
10. Adjust Nap Time
It is so important your kids are well-rested before family photos, so you might have to adjust nap time or bedtime the day of. Like we said before, golden hour might push your little one's bedtime later, so prepare by pushing their nap a little later as well. Have a relaxed, restful day beforehand - coming into family photos relaxed is key. And never let your kiddo nap in the car on the way! Toddlers need some time to "wake up," and you don't want to be battling all the tired feelings while you take pictures.
11. Let Your Kids Be Themselves
Your kids have unique personalities - they might want to act silly or wild during family photos, so let them! It might not reflect your perfect vision of what you wanted your family photos to look like, but they capture your authentic family better, and that's the goal.
12. Dad Should Be Excited Too!
Growing up, my dad dreaded family photo day as much as we did, and we noticed. When dad's stressed or frustrated, your kids pick up on that! Talk with your husband about keeping a positive attitude and both of you showing excitement to the kids. When both of you show your kids family photos are fun, they'll mimic how you act and start having fun too.
13. Take a Deep Breath
You put a lot of pressure on yourself to snag the perfect photos, but take a breath mama. You're doing amazing! It's okay if the photos aren't perfect - your family isn't perfect, but it's your family, and that's a beautiful thing all on it's own. Let your stress go and have a go-with-the-flow attitude going into it. Your kids can feel when you're stressed, so if you show calm, they'll reflect calm right back at you.
You got this mama - wishing you beautiful family photos and a wonderful session this year!
Before you go, make sure to check out a few of our fan favorites below - you won't want to tackle family photos without them!
^^ A great way to keep your baby girl happy on picture day is to keep her hair out of her face. Pin her hair back with our adorable Anne Bow Clips, gentle on all hair types and comfortable for your little princess.
^^ Babies drool a lot, and you don't want your little one soaking their cute outfit in the first few minutes of photo day. Prepare with some Drool Bandana Bibs - designed to compliment your baby's outfits and keep them dry! Pick from our neutral, tasteful sets here.