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Creating the Perfect Family Photo Shoot

There are so few occasions in life when you have an excuse for professional photographs. Weddings, of course, and usually when a new little one enters the world, but otherwise? People tend to stick to the occasional phone pic and call it a day.

I find that so often, people talk about family photos, but they put getting them off year after year. There are vacations to plan, sporting activities to attend, and lives to keep leading. I get it. Life is busy. And finding the funds and time for a family photo shoot isn’t always at the top of everyone’s list. Not to mention how difficult it can be to get everyone together when it comes to big, extended families.

But what happens is that people procrastinate for far too long, and then before they know it – their kids are grown and grandma is dead. OK, so that was a bit morbid, but you get the point… those years pass by too quickly, and if you don’t take the time to capture them, you may just lose the moments you never wanted to forget.

So now is the time to make a commitment to yourself: Family photos, once a year. Or at the very least, every other year. Put it in your calendar. Make a reminder in your iPhone. Set your life up so that you can’t forget, and then make this a priority for at least your immediate family.  If you are able to schedule a family reunion and get the entire extended family together for some photos every now and again, even better. A lot of photographers will offer better rates for large groups, capturing shots of all of you together, as well as separate mini-shoots for each individual family on the same day.

Which means that organizing a joint shoot can be a win-win for all involved.

But once you have the appointment made, how can you do your part to ensure those photos will be worth the time and effort that goes into taking them?

Have you ever heard the expression “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy”? Well, there is no truer application of that phrase than with family photos. If you are stressed, frazzled, or simply stretched too thin – your kids will be tiny little terrors for your session. Guaranteed. So relax mama. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get into a Zen frame of mind, and tell yourself this is going to be fun – no matter what.

Be on Time
Schedule and set up your day so that you arrive on time, and not feeling rushed. We all know how hard it is to get kids out the door or fight traffic home from work. Don’t set yourself up for stress and failure by cutting things too close.

Avoid the Matchy-Match Mistake
Don’t go out and buy the same shirt for everyone involved in your shoot, or insist on everyone wearing the exact same color. Yes, you are a family, but that doesn’t mean you have to look as though you have a family uniform – you are still individuals, after all. Choose a color pallet and stick to tones that blend well together, without attempting to be carbon copies of each other.

Location Matters
Your photographer may have some ideas for location, but if you have a special place that your family always loves to go, talk to your photographer to see if it is a possibility! Not only will your photos then have a bit more of “you” in them, but you will also get to see a different side of your favorite place as your photographer points out all the perfect nooks and crannies for shooting.
The best photos are full of lots of texture and layering, and if you can add an extra visual element with an accessory or two – go for it! A perfect scarf for mom, leg warmers for your little girl, and a newsboy cap for your toddler; whatever ties into the look you are already hoping to create, while adding a bit of extra “pop” to your pictures.

Have Fun
Real happiness lights up on people’s faces, so make sure you are all having fun and laughing during your session. Those true smiles will absolutely be more special to you years down the line than any forced grins, which may have been produced under duress.