There’s a lot that goes into family photos: picking out outfits, making sure hair and makeup look good, finding a photographer, and that all family members are in happy spirits. Making sure all of these things are in order can cause a lot of stress and this stress can show up in your photos. Then whenever you look at those photos hanging on your wall you’re reminded of how crappy and stressful that experience was. Ugh.
SO to avoid all of that, here are some tips I’ve found to be really helpful for my family and hopefully they’ll be helpful to your family as well:
1. Find a photographer you trust and understands your style
While I was growing up my family always had a neighbor across the street who was an aspiring photographer, and she would take our pictures every year. She wouldn’t take any payment because she did it out of the kindness of her heart. I look back at those pictures and cringe at how awful they are. Just because your photographer has a nice camera doesn’t mean that they know how to use it. Just make sure if you do go this route, ask to see some of their work beforehand.
I’m a frugal person because I have to be and I can’t afford an expensive photographer. Sometimes the more expensive the photographers are doesn’t mean they’re going to be the best ones for you. You have to jive or have a connection with your photographer. If your personalities don’t really mesh it can cause your experience to go sour. Plus, every photographer has a certain style, make sure their style and how they capture people is what you like too. If you have no idea what the heck you want, I’d recommend you to start a Pinterest board of all of the family photos that you like and that will give you an idea of what you’re looking for when it comes to your pictures. When you find a photographer you like, send them the url to your board so you two can discuss what you’re looking for and seeing if it’s a good match.
I’ve felt really lucky because my favorite photographer I’ve used is super affordable. I think what makes her my favorite is because I grew up with her and we’ve had a long friendship. For those who live in Utah, her name is McKell and is an extraordinary photographer. I love her laid back and natural approach to photography. She gives off this chill vibe that really makes you feel at ease. She’s all about capturing the real side of people and I think that’s what really drew me to her photography. She’s such a sweetheart. You can learn more about her and her photography at McKell Morgan Photography.
Ok, so what if you’re not lucky enough to have an awesome friend who’s a fabulous photographer? I recommend you to ask your friends on Facebook, Instagram, or any kind of social media. You could also check out your family, friends, and neighbors family pictures and if you find one you really like, ask them if they liked their photographer and get feedback. Just remember to do your research on that photographer before you contact them to see if you’re a good match for their style and price.
2. Look your thinnest by wearing dark clothing, heels, angle your body, and use good posture
When I say, “wear dark clothing,” this doesn’t mean you have to show up looking like a goth. Darker clothes are more flattering on people’s bodies than light colored, thin, and bold patterned prints are. If you’re into stripes, be careful to which direction they run. If you have a small chest or hips, wearing horizontal stripes will make enhance them. If you want to minimize your chest or hips, go for vertical stripes because they will elongate your body. Who doesn’t want to look taller? Also, wear clothing that is comfortable and avoid wearing something that you’re constantly going to be tugging at or adjusting.
One of my favorite beauty bloggers, Maskcara does a great job showing how light and thin clothing can make you look heavier and by wearing dark clothing can make you look thinner. Check out the post here.
Pictures taken of people head on are some of least flattering pictures. To avoid this, slightly angle your body by either crossing one leg over the other, bending one leg and pointing it out. Another way to look your thinnest is to avoid flattening your arms against your sides and legs together. To get perfect posture, stand up straight, stick your chest and neck out a bit.Here’s some great examples of how the combination of wearing dark pieces, posture, and angles can make everyone look their thinnest!
3. Wear heavier makeup
It’s so important to wear enough makeup on your face when you take pictures. If you don’t wear a lot of makeup, make sure you have enough color on your lips, cheeks, and eyes. My sister Melanie who is a makeup artist wrote this awesome article about how to get the perfect makeup for brides, but this can apply to getting pictures taken too.
Some other thoughts: Apply makeup in natural light, avoid shimmery or glittery makeup, go for more matte, apply a second or third coat of mascara, line the eyes of eyeliner, and don’t forget to put on extra blush and a colored lipstick or gloss. I always bring my makeup bag with me to the photo shoot just in case I need a touch up. Bring your lipstick or gloss in your pocket while your getting your pictures taken so you can quickly add some color to your lips after you do any kissing pictures.
My favorite trick for getting to smudge free makeup, getting more coverage on your face, and having your makeup look photoshoot ready is wearing a foundation primer underneath your makeup. Learning how to highlight and contour your face will make your face look more dimensional. Check out this tutorial on we did on our YouTube channel on how to do an easy highlighting and contouring of the face.
This foundation primer from Smashbox is my favorite and it’s oil free!
If you don’t feel comfortable doing your own makeup and want a professional to do it for you, hire someone. Or you can go to your local Nordstrom and schedule a makeup consult with one of the lines. I really like Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown. Where they’ll do the makeup for you and show you which products they used.
4. Get your beauty rest and do something active that day
Duh! This is no brainer, if you get enough sleep you will have the stamina and energy to look your best for your pictures. I find when I do something active that morning or afternoon of the pictures, I feel better and I look better. Go on a hike, a walk, rollerblade, play with your kids, do housework, go to the gym, ride a bike, just get up and move!
Try to schedule your picture appointment around your kids naps. Well rested kids are happy kids.
5. Eat well, drink your water, and bring extra snacks
If you eat well that day you’ll feel good inside. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF! I did this before and let’s just say it was a disaster. I was yawning, I had dark circles underneath my eyes, and had zero energy. Pretty much I looked like a zombie.
If you have small kids make sure to bring some snack and drinks so you can keep everyone hydrated and something in their stomachs. After the pictures are taken, go treat yourself and your family! You deserve it!
6. Don’t parent the kids, don’t get caught up in the small things, and don’t strive for perfection
I asked McKell what tips she has for a smooth and stress free photo shoot and these are her thoughts.
Lower your expectations! (Not your expectations with your photographer, just your kids). This may be true in a lot of situations involving children. You just got to go with the flow.
Don’t yell at your kids! It makes the kids unhappy and you frazzled. Just doesn’t make for a happy situation. Bring some snacks and some water, it is okay to take a few breaks during a session.
Recently I photographed my own family (While that is difficult on many levels being behind and in front of the camera) I understand the stress of wanting those perfect photos. You just got to let. it. go.
For me as a photographer, I want to capture you interacting with each other. I want to see you playing and snuggling. When that happens the smiles will come. And that is what families are about. Not perfectly posed photos but REAL ones.
7. Don’t match, coordinate
When you’re picking out what everyone in your family is going to wear for your photos, strive for coordinating, not matching. When I was deciding what our family was going to wear I didn’t have any extra money in our budget to go buy new clothes. So I went into each of our closets and picked articles of clothing I liked. I did the same for Amelia and McKay. I found there was a common theme going on: white, black, brown, patterns, and a hint of pink.
The three of us are wearing different patterns in our pictures, but not one of them is overpowering because I kept them all in the same color group.
I’m happy that I only spend $3.99 on Amelia’s black turtleneck I got on clearance at Baby Gap, and that was the only thing I had to purchase for our pictures. Try to use what you have, this will prevent the extra stress of having to purchase new clothes for everyone.
I hope these tips help you to have a stress free experience the next time you get your family pictures taken. They’ve really helped my family and I.