Getting the Shot: Family Pics 101

Yep. It’s that time of year. Yea, yea, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also the time of year when EVERYONE is getting new family pictures. Some are getting creative with their iPhones, while others are scouting mini sessions and photography packages from local photographers to get their family photos updated and to get that perfect shot for the Christmas cards soon to be sent out.

It sounds like a simple task. Take a picture, print a card, drop in the mail. But I think most of us know there is a LOT more that goes into it. Finding a photographer. NOT spending an arm and a leg for a photo session. Picking outfits. Capturing the best version of ourselves, i.e. not fighting, screaming, kids crying. Well today I am going to lay out some helpful info and planning tools to make this entire experience easier and (hopefully) more enjoyable for everyone.

Photography Sessions 

It often seems like there is no shortage of photographers, which can be nice! You definitely have options. But sometimes more options can lead to more overwhelm. When it comes to picking a photographer, it really is nice if it is someone you know and who has some experience with your family. Repeat clients are photographers' DREAM and it is actually really helpful for the clients as well. You may see another photographer with a killer deal and it is really tempting to just go the cheaper route and hope for the best. My recommendation would be to utilize the special deals for extra photo sessions. Then you can get the extra pictures really affordably, try out a new photographer, and your yearly family picture/Christmas cards aren’t on the line.

Once you have a photographer, then we move on to what photo session/package you need. Again, there are likely a lot of options available, but you really just need to figure out what you need and then narrow down which package meets those needs. Here is some information to help with choosing a photo session:

Mini Session
These are usually 20 minutes or less in one established location. These are a good option if you are just needing some Christmas card pictures. It will be just enough time to walk away with 10 good pictures fitting for the season.

One hour session
One hour sounds like a lot of pictures, but it may not be as many as you think. A one hour session is a great option if you are needing to update your family pictures, plus you will have plenty to choose from for the perfect Christmas card. For a family session, you likely won’t be able to change outfits in an hour, but you will have plenty of time to take individual photos of each kid, and get some good shots of you and your hunny as well.

Two hour session
Again, sounds like forever, but if you opt for a 2 hour session you will definitely have time for outfit changes and even a location change or two. This would be a good option if you are wanting more variety in outfits and styles. You could do some rural photos and then head downtown for a city look. You may even want to stop at your home for some pictures in your family’s natural habitat. Needless to say, if you want a one and done when it comes to family pictures, a 2 or more hour photo session may be the way to go.

Questions for the Photographer 

Okay, you booked your photographer, you chose your photo session, and there are probably still things you feel like you don’t know. One thing is for sure, you don’t want surprises when it comes to what your package includes, how you are going to get your photos, what rights you have to your pictures, and on and on it goes. No surprises! Here are some questions you want to know the answers to before heading into your photo session:

What all does my photo package include? 

How many photos will I receive? 

How will I receive my photos? 

Do I have full printing rights to my photos? 

How long will it take to receive my pictures? 

Are touch ups included in editing costs? 

Are outfit changes allowed in my package? 

Planning Your Outfits 

Here are some basic tips to planning your family’s outfits:

1. Think about color coordination rather than matching.
2. Let each person’s outfits match their own personal style. For example, if one of your girls never wears dresses, let them rock their slacks or nice jeans instead.

3. Try not to over-accessorize. Too many accessories can distract from the main focus, the faces and smiles. Many times, simple is best.
4. Keep things basic. Of course we all want to look on trend, however we also don’t want to cringe when we look back a few years down the road, and think, “What was I wearing?!” I will admit, I have those photos too.

5. Choose your colors with your surroundings in mind. You want to make sure you stand out in the photos, not blend in or clash. So obviously you don’t want to wear green in a grassy field, or even a cute Christmas tree farm. Wear colors and patterns that are strong colors and stand out against your backgrounds, whether indoors or out.

Keeping the Kids Happy 

I know the saying goes “If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy,” but I don’t think this is the case when it comes to getting pictures. If the kids ain’t happy momma most definitely ain’t happy. Here are some tips on keeping the kids happy and smiling throughout your photo session:

1. Don’t schedule nap time too close to your photo session. Make sure they have time to wake up and get back into their groove so they will be happy heading into picture time.

2. Many well-intentioned parents use the classic move of bribing the kids with a special treat after pictures, IF they do a good job. The problem with that, the entire photo session all the kids are thinking about is getting ice cream (or whatever your bribe of choice) and they are impatient from the get go. Put more emphasis on the photo session itself being a fun, family activity, not something demanding them to perform.

3. Bring some non-messy snacks to keep the kids busy rather than toys and tablets that will only distract them and lure them away from the action. Keep things light and go with the flow. Don’t stress when the kids aren’t posing perfectly. It can be aggravating, but the adults’ aggravation only adds to the kids’ aggravation. When all else fails, take a few silly face pictures to let the kids get into the “family activity” and start having fun.

What are some tips and tricks you have found helpful when in a family photo session?

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