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Clever and creative family photo tips

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

How to get the best family portraits

A professional family portrait captures a precious moment in time and enables you to cherish your family photos forever. Photography experts offer tips and advice on how to get the perfect picture of your beautiful family.


Find the right photographer

“I am a firm believer in finding the right photographer for the right photo,” says Benjamin Weatherston, owner of Photo Studio Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Weatherston explains that professional photographers have different strengths. “A photographer may take amazing portraits of babies and children and yet know nothing about posing adults or groups, which is a very specific skill set that takes years of training.”

Timorah Beales, of Timorah Beales Photography, agrees. “It's really important to choose the right photographer,” says Beales. “Take a look at the website to make sure that what they show in their portfolio is similar to what you want.”

Mom's guide to photoshopping pictures >>

Pick the perfect location for your family

“Don’t rely solely on the photographer to find great places to shoot or you might just end up in the same place as a dozen other clients,” cautions Weatherston. “If you want something extra-special, you should do some of the legwork on your own.”

Beales agrees. “I often encourage my clients to tell me about the locations they enjoy visiting together as a family,” she says.

For outdoor photos, keep in mind that “good light is more important than good scenery,” says Beales. “Good light can make any setting beautiful.” Beales’ favorite times to take photos? “Just after dawn or right before sunset, when the light is the most flattering.”

How to take stunning professional-style family photos >>

Share your vision with the photographer

As you peruse the portfolios of prospective photographers, consider these questions:

  • Do you want formal, posed (looking-at-the-camera) portraits?
  • Do you want an informal, candid photo with natural interaction?
  • Do you want indoor (studio) or outdoor photos?

“Tell your photographer what you want your portraits to portray,” says wardrobe and beauty stylist Fanny Woo. “When people look at your pictures, do you want them to see a family that is easy-going? Fun? Energetic? Warm? Serious?”

“Make sure your photographer has plenty of examples of group portraiture,” advises Weatherston. Use the photographer's examples to describe what you do (and don't) want.

Creative pose ideas for kids >>

Pay careful attention to the clothes

"Clothing is a key element for beautiful, timeless portraits,” says Sophie Kormos, of Michael Kormos Photography. “Select outfits that represent your style, and then bump it up a notch.”

  • Wear simple, classic apparel that reflects your style. For a timeless family portrait, avoid clothing that is too trendy.
  • Coordinate the family’s outfits: Keep each person unique by choosing a “family palette” of several complementary colors.
  • Choose neutral tones and soft pastels. This focuses the attention on the family’s expressions rather than the clothing.
  • Wear layers to add dimension and accessories for pops of color. Consider rich textures, simple patterns, chunky jewelry, belts, scarves, hats, headbands, ruffles and buckles.

“Plan your outfits one week before your session,” says Kormos. “Lay them on the bed, step back and take a look. Once you’re happy with your choices, make sure they’re clean and wrinkle-free for your special day!”

Tips for keeping kids happy during photo shoots >>

More photography tips for moms and families

Creative pose ideas for families
Best props for family photos
5 Camera features that improve your digital photos

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