Since we started our family, we have worked hard to preserve moments in time through photographs. It hasn’t always been easy, or cheap, but it’s always been worth every penny that we budgeted to make it happen.
In my previous post, I chronicled some of my favorite family photoshoots, giving a little behind-the-scenes insight for each. The prevailing theme, I suppose, has been that as the kids have gotten older, these shoots have gotten tougher. There are some great things you can do, however, to make even the most energetic subjects settle down and cooperate for a minute. Or–you fake it!
Below are my top five tips for a great family photo, along with links to the San Diego-based photographers we’ve worked with. We highly recommend all of them!
1. Choose Your Photographer Wisely
That brings us to my first tip: to use caution in choosing your photographer. I’m not referring, however, to their reputation. I’m referring to their style! What do they specialize in? Indoor or outdoor photography, natural/lifestyle or portrait? Does their work appear heavily filtered or lightly edited? Do they work regularly with kids?
You want to be able to look through their gallery and see yourself reflected in it, in a realistic way. A photographer should not be chosen because you want them to CHANGE the way you look. Pick them because you believe they can help you to reflect your most beautiful, innermost self. In other words, the good stuff that already exists.
In this photoshoot, I had just given birth. Obviously my son was the center of the show, but I was feeling deeply vulnerable and self-conscious. Birth had been incredibly painful and physically taxing, and I was overwhelmed. Our sweet photographer was kind and patient and put me at ease.
Again, here, I had only been out of the hospital for a couple of weeks. No, I don’t think I look like a supermodel in this photo, but look at my little boy! Could he be any more precious? This photo is worth more than gold to me.
2. Select Complimentary, Classic Outfits and Accessories Ahead of Time
I am no stylist. Nor am I some fashion maven–and when our photographer complimented us on our outfits at our latest shoot, I was stunned.
She explained that working well together in photographs wasn’t about matching, it was about selecting complimentary shades and tones. Recently, a family had booked her for a shoot and had all worn the exact same shirt. She explained that what sounded logical in theory ended up looking pretty strange on film.
I had worried that my daughter and I would look funny because we had totally different patterns on our dresses. The opposite was true–the greens and blues complimented each other, and it worked!
3. Let the Photographer Help to Select the Location
Use your photographer’s expertise, especially if you are working together for the first time. There are a lot of details re: composition and lighting that they understand far more innately, and if you’re trying to wrangle young kids, the shoot may move along more quickly if the photog is familiar with the location and can make suggestions for positioning.
There is something to be said, too, about happy accidents–like the man creating giant bubbles in the sky right next to where you are shooting!
4. Make Sure Children are Fed and Rested
Perhaps this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t schedule shoots before or during nap time, schedule them afterward. Bring diapers and snacks and water and have everyone use the bathroom before departing. Some shoot locations can be pretty remote.
If you’re wrangling a crowd, handle the group shots first, and then break off into smaller groups for the remainder of the time. If kids will only be in some of the shots, do those next. Go from highest-maintenance to lowest-maintenance responsibilities.
5. Let Go of Your Hang-ups About How You Look in Photos
Daniel did an incredible job, but I HATED how I looked in these photos. Want a confession? Two words: Fake. Bangs. Yep! I had so much postpartum hair loss, and was so self-conscious about how I looked, that I went to a special store and got myself a “piece.” It didn’t turn out as well as I hoped it would, but here’s the thing:
These photos are still incredibly precious to me. No, I haven’t worn the fake bangs since, but I’m glad I sucked it up and got into the photo. Making that a habit has become truly important to me.
Like I said at the beginning, these photos are some of my most precious possessions, and I would recommend the photographers over and over again. Contact them here: