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Family photos are a big deal.

It’s easy to stress out about family photos because you want them to be perfect. After all they may go on holiday cards, they will probably be sent to some family members, and they will surely go on the wall!

We just took family photos, and they came out great.

They show our family living life, playing together, and doing so at one of our local beaches.

This is our family as we are in 2019.

If you are looking to have photos taken, and you want to make sure that they are awesome, follow these 6 tips below to get the best family photos!

1 – Hire a photographer whose style you like

Find a photographer whose go-to style of photography and editing aligns with what you want.

You can find your photographer of choice by doing a broad google search, asking around on local facebook groups, or asking your friends who they have used!

Seeing as we have little ones who might not tolerate a photo shoot, or might not understand how to both look at the camera and smile at the same time, we needed somebody who was familiar with doing family shoots, and had the skill to capture those millisecond moments of picture perfection.

For this year’s family portraits, we decided to go with Aimee from The Heart’s Haven. She recently photographed a friend’s family and the photos turned out fabulous. Aimee has also been highlighted recently in the SD Voyager for her rock star photography, so I knew we’d be in good hands. If you’re in San Diego and need a photographer, check her out!

2 – Figure out your outfit first

Photo cred: My friend Taryn with Twinkle & Toast Wedding Stationary

Mamas come first!

It can be so much harder to dress ourselves in clothing that we feel good in — postpartum bodies, limited time to workout, eating our children’s leftovers… you know what I’m talking about — than it is to dress everyone else.

My mother-in-law bought me this gorgeous green gown last time we visited her in England, and I knew that was what I was going to wear.

If you have your clothing nailed down, you know it won’t be so hard to pick things out for your spouse and kids. With my dress picked, I knew that my husband would have a shirt and a pair of trousers that will work with it.

So if there is something you own that you love, wear it. If you don’t own anything that you feel rockin’ in, do a little shopping! If you don’t have time to hit up the brick and mortar shops, online shopping may just be your best friend.

As for the kids, they look good in everything. And let’s face it, they probably have a nicer selection of clothes to choose from than you do. 

Once your outfit is decided, you can move on to step three.

3 – Plan your clothing to coordinate colors instead of being matchy matchy

In years past, it has been common or recommended that everyone wear matching outfits. If this is your jam, run with it! 

I used to be in support of this, but for a while now I have preferred to choose a color palette.

As a color palette as your inspiration, photos look more organic and more visually pleasing. If you do it right, you don’t even notice the clothing in the pictures — everything just looks good.

With the help of Pinterest and Google searches, I found this color scheme for my family’s photo shoot. With my green dress in mind, along with the backgrounds of bougainvillea and the ocean, I wanted the rest of the colors to work. See my inspiration below!

See the olive green of my dress in that palette?! I just love the whole color scheme. *swoon*

Now I just had to look through my family’s clothes to see if they had anything that fit in with this color palette.

My husband had dark grey trousers and we borrowed the same color of trousers for my son from a friend (thanks Hill!). I bought my son a cream and grey heathered long sleeve t-shirt, and I bought my daughter a dusty pink long sleeve dress.

4 – Consider introducing textures in the clothing instead of big patterns

For all the clothing, be sure to consider their textures, which brings visual depth to a photo, but keep print to a minimum, which can make a photo look busy. My son’s shirt had textured stripes, and my daughter’s dress had eyelet detailing on the front

You’ll notice that the color maroon is not in my color palette inspo, but I thought it would mix in nicely, so we went with maroon colored shoes for the kiddos.

Accessories can be helpful in bringing the colors together. Seeing as I was only wearing one color from the palette, the olive green, I made sure that my earrings and bracelet had another of the colors. You can see below I chose shades of pink to match my girl.

5 – Keep the kids engaged

We had a baggie filled with Hershey’s Kisses for the kiddos as rewards for following the photographer and our directions.

When the kids were having moments of “this is enough already!”, we’d remind them of the next treat on it’s way if they would smile or engage or at least not run away.

(There was lots of running away with our son. One and a half is a hard age for an hour-long photo shoot!)

Can you tell each kiddo is cheeking their Hershey Kiss?

Note: our treats worked well enough, but the downside of chocolate is if your kids are drooly, which both of ours are, there is a fair bit of brown drool to clean off their chins in the process. So maybe there is a better, less messy treat that your kiddo enjoys.

6 – Go with the flow of your kiddos and allow for non-posed, more organic pictures

While my mom would disagree, as she is a fan of the traditional, posed photo variety, I love a less posey photo.

These images showing our interactions and movement are some of my favorites.

With this style of photography, you get to see real life in action, captured in a moment.

Plus, this allows you to not be constantly correcting your little ones to behave for the photo. 

And you’re probably more likely to get some genuine smiles out of your kiddos.


Best of luck with your family photos!

Another post you may enjoy! The Small Ways Your Partner Can Help You Feel Loved

Christina Furnival

Christina is a mom to two wild and wonderful kiddos, a licensed psychotherapist (LPCC), the founder of her website ChristinaFurnival.com and therapeutic motherhood blog Real Life Mama, and a children's book author of a social/emotional wellbeing series, Capable Kiddos! She and her Scottish husband are raising their family in San Diego, where they love to hike, play soccer, cook, walk around the lake, and go to the beach.

27 thoughts on “6 Tips for the Best Family Photos – From Clothing Choices to Keeping the Kids Engaged”

  1. This wAs a really great reaD and a great help! I have been postponing my family photos Because i am Trying to make sure eveRything is perfect and we have yet to take them! This helped ease some anxiety and i feel like im more ready now????

  2. This was a great read! I love your tips on using a color palette and textures in the clothing instead of busy patterns. You have a beautiful family and your photos look amazing. thanks for sharing.

  3. Those photos did turn out fabulous! It reminds me that I need to get family pics made! I love the pallet idea as well1

  4. The family photo session resulted in what looked like fun and great pictures in the end. Lovely family and great tips for everyone to make the most out of the time you get to do photos!

  5. That shot of your daughter running to your Hubby is absolutely priceless! Thanks for your tips on color PALATE! I’m hopeless when it comes to this stuff.

  6. Beautiful pictures of your beautiful family! I wish i would have read this post years ago when my children were little – we always went for the well posted pictures… how much nicer the relaxed organic ones are. Great tips for wardrobe Choices too!

  7. We did a family photo shoot a few years back and had so much fun. We all wore jeans and solid colored shirts in different colors. our photographer knew our family pretty well which really helped.

  8. #7…it certainly helps to have such a photogenic family too. 🙂 seriously though, I really dig candid family pics that look organic and unstaged. And I agree, the “matchy-matchy” stuff is a bit much, and that’s coming from a dude like me who just wants to survive the photoshoot. LOL!

  9. These are great tips! I love the less posed photos (ps yours turned out great!) Also,your 1.5year old makes my 1.5 year olds look tiny, hes so tall, lol.
    Beautiful family.

  10. Beautiful photos!! We just had our family photos done too and I agree, finding a photographer who shares your style is key!

  11. Firstly, you have a beautiful family, so your photos were bound to be beautiful. Secondly, your tips are terrific, particularly the idea of textures and coordinating colour family instead of being matchy matchy.

  12. These are gorgeous photos. You have a beautiful family. Thank you for the tips. We have a photoshoot next month for our Christmas photos. These will come in handy.

  13. I love the tip about picking my outfit first. I usually pick my son’s first, and then I’m left trying to find something I actually feel good in. I’m going to pick mine first next time!

  14. Great tips. Our best family photos have been when it’s been casual. I like everyone to dress in what matches their personality.

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