Family Photos: How to Stress Less

WARNING: This post may contain more words than you have had to read since your senior English class and more pictures than a National Geographic. I will not be at all offended if you do not read the entirety of this post or even stop now. Continue to read only if you desire to know the intimate details of how pictures such as this one were created:

Photo Jun 22, 9 14 33 AM

Wallaby is 7 months old and we had one photo of all three of us—clearly a family photo session was well over due. Our lovely friend Lindsay volunteered to traipse around our little town and make us look good with her capital photography skills.  But, long before we go to the actual photo process I started planning in my head—time, locations, props, and outfits were my main concerns.

Picking a good time was the easiest of the three, because lighting is best early morning and late evening, (just before the sun goes down) and since it is summer and the sun does not set until after 9 pm, the choice between the two is easy for anyone who wants a happy baby for their pictures. Morning it was. We also knew that our first location would have more direct sunlight so we went there first; we arrived there just after 7:30 am, and even then it probably would have been better to be a bit earlier.

Even before we decided on the date for our photo shoot I started thinking of locations, because we all know that a interesting backdrop can do wonders for a picture, and sometimes even distract from the last of the baby weight that our husbands are trying to lose…  While driving up a local canyon I spied a lovely white washed barn in a grassy field and upon crying out to The Grizzly Kid to look, look, look, he almost hit a squirrel while I was distracting him. Nevertheless, I knew that I had found our first location. As for spot number two, we had a general idea that the main street of our little town had some cool old buildings, so one day after stopping by the library we walked around a couple blocks of downtown to pick out specific spots and took turns carrying our corpulent little Wallaby. Locations were set.


Props are becoming more and more popular in photography these days and can easily be overdone in my opinion, but then again I live by the motto, “less is more”. We decided to bring just a few items that show our family personality. For example, we love reading to Wallaby, hence the copy of Peter Pan. Our only other props were Wallaby’s much loved teddy bear, Ulysses, and his little rocking chair which allowed Wallaby to sit unaided for his individual photos. Then of course you have to remember the “behind the scenes” props, like a blanket to sit on and then put baby on while taking couples photos, and your favorite lipgloss/lipstick because one coat is not going to last. Waterbottle, toys, and snacks are some other things we took, because we want as much insurance as possible that everyone will remain as happy as possible for the duration of the photo shoot.

Photo Jun 22, 9 08 31 AM (1)

Photo Jun 22, 9 14 24 AM

As for clothes, this is where I stressed the most, because while some people go out and buy new coordinating outfits, we were working with a limited budget called–use what is in your closet. The very last thing I wanted was a bunch of white shirts and jeans–to matchy, and I certainly did not want so many different prints and colors that the pictures were visual chaos. So I turned to the source of all knowledge, the internet, to see what others had to say and among reading several photography blogs I found some wonderful suggestions, that I tried to think about as I decided on our ensembles.
1. Do not use a lot of white, because that is the first color that the eye is drawn to.
2. No more than three colors, preferably in the same color family—Design Seed is loads of fun to look at to get an idea of colors that work well together, and even colors that     go well with certain seasons.
3. Think of your outfits in the layout of the family so that colors are not all clumped together. For example, if there is a baby and mom will most often be holding the baby, then be sure to choose different color/patterns so that they don’t blend together in one blob—we moms simply do not need anymore blobbiness.
4. Probably my favorite suggestion—from several sources—was for moms to stop giving themselves the leftovers, or matching their outfits to everyone else, because if momma doesn’t like the way she looks in a photo then she will cringe every time she sees it and it will never get put out on display.

I also knew that I wanted to do different outfits for our different locations, so we had more dressy outfits with more subdued colors for the white barn up the canyon—to give us a vintage feel; and for our more casual downtown photos we wore brighter summery colors—this way we were sure to love at least one of our outfit combos.

Photo Jun 22, 10 17 57 AM (1)

Photo Jun 22, 9 16 34 AM

Just a few final tips for overall enjoyment from your photo shoot and the photos themselves.

1. Choose your photographer wisely. We really love Lindsay’s style of photography—she took our engagements too!—not to mention her super fun and energetic personality, and her creativity—the list goes on and on. To enjoy your pictures you do not want a photographer who’s style is completely different from the kind of pictures you love, and you certainly don’t want someone who is continually checking their watch, keeping you on a tight schedule and stressing you out.  Bubbly personalities in photographers make for fun pictures, they tell you look good, and they are so excited to see how these pictures turn out! But, it is also important that your photographer is not afraid to speak out and be a bit bossy—after all we need someone to arrange us and make us look good. We have all had that picture taken where we wished someone would have told us to brush that loose hair out of your eye, our straighten your shirt—your photographer should be that person.

2. People who play take better pictures! Gone are the days of sitting stiff in a straight line with your siblings (although, this picture is awesome for its shock factor—this is your immediate family?!):

az, family line up

Get your kids to skip or hold hands, this is where a few props can come in handy to help them act more naturally. Looking back we are glad we didn’t take family photos when Wallaby was a newborn, because cute as he was he did nothing exciting; now he smiles and plays with us. Here he is kissing my hand:

Photo Jun 22, 10 19 06 AM

Photo Jun 22, 10 19 44 AM

The photos we love most are always the ones that evoke fond memories, and ideally, family photos would be the same way, not the usual recall of toddler breakdowns and teenage surliness between the clicking of the camera. Making your outing fun and putting everyone in comfy clothes they like are a couple of steps in the right direction, and with larger families like mine, it takes a few prayers as well.

Here are a few more photos for my your viewing pleasure:

Photo Jun 22, 10 18 04 AM (1)

Photo Jun 22, 9 19 07 AM

Photo Jun 22, 9 07 48 AM (1)

What are your family photos like? Do you have any tips for achieving lovely family photos?



3 thoughts on “Family Photos: How to Stress Less

  1. Some of the best outfits for photos of kids come from used clothing stores, ok, like to Kid. I can’t tell you home many people get outfits for their kids there. And they don’t have to spend so much money. Even new hair bows, headbands, little boy’s ties, suspenders, shoes, etc can be added to a photo for added texture and interest, pulling out a child’s personality.
    Great ideas… Your photos are awesome. Wallaby is adorable!

  2. We loved every word and every picture. We can hardly wait to see you and our precious great grandchild . Grandma and grandpa Winters

  3. Pingback: Beach Wedding | Wildfire Kisses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s