Tips for Taking Family Photos – and Why You Should Be Taking Them!

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Family photos are a very funny thing. Of course, you want pictures of your family frolicking at the beach, but when the time rolls around, it’s sure to be raining, your husband has a million other things to do, your kids can’t stand one. more. picture. and you wonder if it’s even worth it – I’m here to tell you, IT ABSOLUTELY IS!


Photo by my sister-in-law (okay, not a professional photographer, but a professional graphic designer and therefor good behind the camera & with Photoshop okay?!) Thanks Leah!

Even though they can be so troublesome in the moment, family pictures will be cherished for years to come and really do stand out amongst the million candid snapshots you take of your family throughout the year. Here’s why you should absolutely invest (time, money, and energy) into taking family pictures at least once a year:

  1. You will actually be in the picture! Sure you have lots of pictures on your phone from opening birthday presents, a favorite school project, and even playing outside this afternoon, but chances are you didn’t make it into any of them, because you’re behind the camera. To capture the essence of your family life, you need to be in the shot, because you are just as vital to the scene as the little ones. I also hate to be morbid, but it is highly likely that you’ll move from this life to the next before your children do. They need to see you.
  2. It’s a visual time capsule of your life right now. I love looking at our old family photos and remembering the dress Eva used to wear, how my belly looked when I was pregnant, and how the girls used to have such tiny hands. Taking family pictures is a great way to mark the time in your life and make a snapshot of right now that you’ll have forever.
  3. Pro photographers are also pro editors. I hope all of my photographer friends appreciate me for saying this – most of their time is not spent at the photo shoot. Most of their time spent on your photos is at home, editing your pictures to look clean, crisp, and professional. If you have three little ones, it’s unlikely that there are many photos of all smiling and looking at the camera at the same time, which might take considerable time for your photographer to cut and paste together a winning photo. This is another reason not to scrimp on a photographer – while anyone can point and shoot a camera, not everyone has excellent editing skills. Consider that before booking your cousin’s roommate’s friend at a steep, steep discount.
  4. You are recording your family’s history. More than heirloom furniture or silver, your descendants will want photos of you. These become a piece of family history, woven together forever. When I think of what I most cherish from my parents and grandparents, its the pictures they have that capture who they were and their family together.
Photo by Connie Balluff

Now that you’re convinced that you need family photos – how do you actually make it happen?! It’s not a task for the faint of heart. But after a few years of practice, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at streamlining the process and making it – dare I say – almost enjoyable. Here are some of my best tips for capturing the best family photos:

  1. Hire a professional! Yes, I’m going to state my case again. You need a professional photographer. I think the only exception to this would be if you are a photoshop whiz yourself and trust that you can do some intense editing on your own. I really think this is best left to a new set of eyes – a professional photographer who will make sure the lighting and colors look excellent and can do some face swapping if necessary to make sure you get photos with everyone (miraculously) looking at the camera.
  2. Pick a timeless look. When picking outfits, avoid logos, very trendy clothing, matchy-matchy outfits and ultra-busy prints. Instead, stick to somewhat classic pieces that won’t look dated, and coordinate your colors rather than match. That means picking a basic color palette to work off of. This will make it so that you all look like you belong together, but didn’t buy matching shirts on your way to the shoot. When in doubt, err on the side of being more formal. I’ve never looked back at pictures and thought “I should have gone more casual”.
  3. Choose a natural setting. Outdoor settings, blooming flowers, tall fields, and ocean sands all make for beautiful photos. But a natural setting could also mean a place that you frequent and find beautiful – a religious site (we took some family photos on the temple grounds at the Payson Utah Temple, and I absolutely cherish them), or a landmark like a capital building. Don’t look for things that are toursity, but rather beautiful pieces of architecture that make for an elegant backdrop.
  4. Consider the weather & lighting. Usually, lighting is best in the morning or just as the sun dips in the evening. I prefer taking family pictures in the morning, when kids aren’t cranky and we’re all freshly made up for pictures. Of course, planning for the weather is also important. Pick clothes that will make you comfortable in the weather while taking pictures, and avoid the hottest days of the year – you’re sure to be cranky and sweaty if you don’t.
  5. End with fun. Family picture day should be a fun tradition, not a nagging chore. Try to keep your photos under an hour and then pick an adventure to have nearby. Taking pictures at the beach in the morning has fun built in, because you can change into your swimsuits right away and dive in. Brainstorm with your family and decide on something to do after that everyone will look forward to (even if it’s just ice cream cones on the way home.)

I hope you use these tips to save yourself some stress and get your best family photos yet! Tell me what your most memorable family photos were like, and what you’ve learned while taking family photos! What tips and tricks would you add to this list? Tag your favorite family photographer so they can see this post!

Sources & Credits:
Featured photo (floral skirt) taken by Tea Marie Photography (Utah)
Maternity photo taken by Connie Balluff (Utah) maternity dress is from Asos
Beach photos taken by my sister-in-law Leah (New Hampshire) white eyelet dress is from Anthropologie but no longer available – linking similar here and here.
All girls dresses were from Gap, and sandals are Saltwater Sandals from Amazon.

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