Top 5 Questions You Might Have Before Family Photos

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I feel like we've spent days in a frenzy trying to get everything perfect (actually my wife probably spent a lot more than I did).

I imagine that we all have this sense that something will go wrong or that we'll get our pictures back later and find something amiss. Maybe our worry is something like not everyone smiling at the same time or one of the kids not looking at the camera.

Good preparation, careful photographer selection, and a little faith can all go a long way towards getting family photos that you will treasure forever.

Even as a photographer, I think family photos can be rather intimidating.

What To Wear





Coordinate your colors but stay away from the exact same outfits.

Consider bold

Stay away from baggy clothes

Aim for timeless

One strategy is to coordinate the same color shirt for one child with the pants of another.

Combining patterns and solids can also be appealing.

You want to separate yourselves from your surroundings rather than blend in.  You’re the scene.

Layer outfits and accessories to account for temperature differences and can create different looks.

If you have to decide between either too big or too small, I’d pick the slimmer article of clothing.

Baggy clothes feel nice but can be unflattering in photos.

Think classical elegance. Avoid anything with big logos that will obviously date the photo.

Sometimes a great accessory like a scarf can make all the difference.

What Time Of Day Is Best?

A photograph needs two ingredients: light and time.  Of the two, the element we can control the most is time.  When it comes to taking family photos, midday can be tough because of the harsh light that can create unflattering shadows.

Ideally, we'd shoot in the morning or late afternoon before sunset when the sun's lower in the sky. The photographic advantage here is that the light tends to be softer and we are able to capture some of the beautiful colors that are projected onto the horizon.

Regardless of day or night, harsh light or not, we will take some amazing photos.

We have the distinction (if you can call it that) of being able to say at one point that we had three children who were the age of 3 and under. It's fair to say we're pretty used to commotion.

When I first learned portrait lighting, I practiced it with my kids.

This was a challenging learning environment, but it made me really fast at adjusting camera settings.

I used to try everything to get the kids to smile at the camera, but the results seemed artificial.  It's easy for me to do family photos like that. However, I prefer capturing the emotion--the cries, the ridiculous jokes, the pride they get from not doing what they're told, all of it.

What If The Kids Don't Smile At The Camera?

What Are The Keys To Success?

Hungry kids also tend to be unhappy

Sleepy kids are unhappy (you've probably figured this out by now)

The best photography times also tend to be the best meal times.  Consider eating breakfast or dinner early and bring snacks. Candy bribery is incredibly effective (we never do this...), so I’d recommend having a pocketful of whatever is the favorite of the day. 

If we’re shooting downtown, the promise of ice cream also has transcendent properties, so we often end up at the Pearl Ice Cream Parlor.

Make sure to consider nap time.  We once drove 6 hours to see a realistic dinosaur event only to encounter an epic tantrum (maybe the most epic tantrum) because one of our kids refused to nap in the car.

The best photos are the ones that show how you and your family really live

Give yourself extra time to get ready

Staring at a camera lens isn't a normal thing to do, especially for kids. Let's let them be kids and run, jump, and go crazy. Kids do some of the most incredible things. They do stuff that adults could never think of. Let's embrace their sense of wonder.

Dressing kids is a lot of work, especially when you’re also trying to look your best.  Make sure to leave a comfortable cushion so you can enjoy the experience rather than feeling flustered at getting somewhere on time.

Many years of crazy kid moments and thousands of photos have given me a perspective on the world that I truly love seeing.

This has coalesced into a journey where I've been humbled to rank among the best in the world at documentary family photography.

What if we don’t like our family pictures?

As long as you’re having fun, I can assure you that you will love your pictures.

Want Family Photos That Are As Unique As You Are?

Want Family Photos That Are As Unique As You Are?