We’ve all been there: you want to take a few nice family photos for the yearly Christmas card, a big announcement, or just to hang in your home, but where do you start? The whole process can feel a bit overwhelming. Add in cranky kids, busy schedules, and coordinating outfits and you’ve got yourself a recipe for stress.
Over the years, I’ve become somewhat of a master at successfully getting my kids and husband to take family photos without (too much) struggle. I’ve rounded up my biggest tips and tricks for achieving beautiful family photos, from how to pick perfectly coordinated outfits to how to keep the kids smiling the whole way through.
Family photos are such a treasure and something I think everyone should have. Time is so fleeting, especially with little ones, and having these memories to look back on will never be something you regret spending money on. Keep on reading to learn how to master your next family photo session with joy and ease!
All photos in this post provided by Caitlyn Motycka Photography.
Finding the Perfect Photographer
We are so lucky to have such a wonderful friend and photographer that makes taking these family photos not only beautiful, but also stress-free and fun. Caitlyn Motycka is an extremely talented maternity, newborn, and family photographer who specializes in classic and emotive photography. She loves soft color palettes and lots of light – perfect for my coastal-loving self!
If you’re in the market for family photos, the first thing I recommend doing is asking a few of your friends about their own experiences with family photographers in the area. Instagram is also a great place to find local talent that fits your personal aesthetic, be it light and airy like Caitlyn or a bit more on the dark and moody side.
I’ve found that finding the perfect photographer means finding someone that your personality “jives” with to ensure a seamless experience. Photographers are used to being “interviewed” by prospective clients all the time, so don’t feel like you’re being difficult by suggesting a phone call before booking. Family photos can be a big (but well worth it) expense, so make sure you really like who you’re investing your time and money into.
Caitlyn goes above and beyond to make you feel like family. From the easiest planning for wardrobe selections and locations, to her gorgeous studio in downtown Charleston, she has everything to offer! You know those exhausting days with a newborn in the house are not exactly when you want to open the door for a photographer. She makes the process so peaceful and natural, that you won’t even feel like you have an additional person in your home.
Once you have your photograpaher booked, it’s time to start thinking about the vibe you’d like to capture for your family photos. We’re lucky enough to live extremely close to both beautiful beaches and charming historic downtown Charleston, so it’s hard to go wrong!
For our latest session, we met Caitlyn at her studio in downtown and walked over to some of the iconic Charleston cobblestone streets. I recommend picking a location that means something special to your family or a place that captures the season of life you’re currently in. That makes these photos all the more meaningful!
Time of day is also something important to consider when scheduling your family photos. The time period right after sunrise or right before sunset, frequently referred to as “Golden Hour,” is a very popular choice amongst photographers and for good reason: it creates perfectly warm light that is universally flattering and not too bold or too soft.
I also like to take into consideration when my kids will be on their best behavior – some kids are early birds while others do best in the late afternoon. Caitlyn always recommends a well fed child also, no one wants a cranky and “hangry” kiddo during a family photo session.
How to Coordinate Outfits
Now I know almost all of us have a family photo from our childhood in matching denim or khaki…those days are (thankfully) long gone and we’ve moved on to a more subtle way of creating a cohesive look. I would start by picking a color palette that reflects where you’re taking your photos and what style you’re going for.
For the mountains, more earthy tones would look beautiful (especially in the fall!), but for the beach I love creams, light blues, and tans to reflect the scenery rather than compete with it.
If you’re taking photos in your home, I like to stick with neutrals to keep it clean. Go for more muted options and avoid any bright or very dark colors, like stark white, bright red, or black. Steer clear of logos if possible-they easily become a distraction in photos.
It’s always fun to play with patterns too. It’s recommended to keep any patterns soft and small rather than bold and large. I like doing a mix of subtle florals, soft plaid, and small dots or stripes to keep things interesting without becoming overwhelming. You can always keep a few people in solid colors so it doesn’t get too busy.
Keep things soft and cohesive for a look that’s sure to be captured beautifully on camera. Also consider the time of year that you’ll be taking photos. For spring and summer, lighter neutrals or pastels are sure to please. In the fall and winter, it’s easier to get away with earthy tones like camel, rust, olive green, or slate blue.
I’ve rounded up some coordinating family outfits based on season. Let me know which one is your favorite!
Tips for Photos with Kids
I think my biggest tip for successful family photos is making sure your kids are well-rested and fed. Anyone with kids knows that hungry and tired children are a recipe for disaster. Make sure to pack snacks and arrive prepared.
If you have babies or toddlers, bring a favorite toy or stuffed animal to distract them; it may even make a special appearance in some photos, so choose wisely! Caitlyn is so incredible and brings toys with her, which made their way into our last photos because Theo was… being Theo! It can also be fun to make an event out of the photos – maybe promise everyone a special ice cream or hot cocoa date afterwards if things go well…in this case, a little bribery can’t hurt!
Another big tip is to avoid getting your kids dressed until the very last minute. You don’t want to risk any spills or tears in those carefully curated outfits! I like to pack a “go bag” for each kid complete with shoes, socks, and any accessories they’ll need to complete their outfits. We get them all dressed right before photos start to keep everyone looking their best. Caitlyn’s new studio is incredible, we just showed up, got dressed, and went for a walk!
So what do you think? Are you finally ready to tackle those family photos you’ve been putting off for years? These pictures are something you’ll cherish for years to come and if you pack your patience and follow my tips and tricks, I can almost guarantee a successful outcome! Heck, maybe you’ll even make this a new annual tradition. I promise, you won’t regret it! Anything I forgot? Drop your own tips for successful family photos below!
All photos in this post provided by Caitlyn Motycka Photography.
- Charleston Family Photo Session
- Family Photo Session with Caitlyn Motycka Photography
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