8 tips for a picture perfect family shoot

its that time of year again.. time for family pictures!  we take our family photos around this time of year and over the years since adding kiddos to our crew I have gotten the hang of making the experience as seamless as possible.  seamless is a terrible word to use.  you know.. I’ve either had a baby or toddler the last 4 years we have taken family pictures, so some one always has a meltdown and someone always loses a shoe/hair bow/pants.

that being said, I’ve got a a few tips and tricks to share with you that help to make it easier on me when preparing for these pictures every season.

| find the perfect photographer + schedule in advance |

this is super important, which is why I have it listed first and foremost. Brittany of B Faith Photography has been taking our pictures for the last 5 years:: we met through Instagram while I was on bedrest and searching the internet for a newborn photographer to capture the first photos of Parker and Jolie. I fell in love with her style after skimming her Instagram photos which lead me to the portfolio on her website.  on the day that she came to take photos at our house we both laughed because she had just moved into her new home about two weeks before, which happened to be around the corner from my house!  we’ve ‘been together’ ever since.. through hundreds of life milestones.  I trust this girl.  we have a thing and she kind of knows what I want and I know what she expects and it just works. not to say you must have this relationship with your photographer, because thats pretty unique, but she’s a gem and I think finding someone that you trust and that fits your aesthetic and style is really important.

we take our pictures every year at the end of October or the beginning of November- which seems to be the busiest time of year for our favorite photographer.  I plan our photos with her a couple months in advance and understand that during this time she offers little wiggle room in cancelations + reschedules because of the volume of clients she will be shooting.. AND that her turnaround time might be a little longer than normal. I love to send our Christmas cards out the week of Thanksgiving and so taking photos in October allows the time on my end to get the photos back when they are ready and have the cards printed and mailed out when I prefer.   planning in advance is really important.

| picture perfect outfits |

if you have read here long, you know I LOVE to style my kids as well as myself.  I never knew how fun it could be to dress my babies- and finding unique and affordable pieces that work well for dressing up or down has kinda become my hobby.  planning your family’s outfits for photos has come a long way from the white t-shirt and blue jeans look.. every family in the early 90’s has this photo, right?

  • this time of year, and into the winter, warm tones are the perfect option.  grey, wine, navy, blush, camel, and rust are worn beautifully together.
  • try to steer clear from a ton of patterns- one or two people in the photo look great with a pattern and the rest of the individuals should stay pretty neutral.
  • layers + layers + layers! jewelry, cardigans, boots over jeans, trendy coats, tights, belts, scarves, hats- you get the idea! any sort of texture will add interest & show your family’s personality even more. layers really add so much to a photo + take a normal photo to the next level.
  • dress in coordination vs matching everyone – especially the kids.  like I mentioned in my previous post- texture and layers are what we are going for! I have this ‘matching’ problem when it comes to Parker and Jolie.  I’ve been matching them since they were born and as they’ve come into having their own opinion in what they want to wear they really prefer to match. I’ve been taking them outside their style box and they’ve been more and more open to what they wear individually instead of together. this year I offered them both a handful of outfit ideas and they picked what they wanted to wear and alas they didn’t match:)
  • dark colors are slimming. choose items that are more form fitting and don’t appear “baggy” in your photos. structured clothing is really flattering!
  • layering with a jacket or cardigan can offer shape to your outfit without adding a ton of bulk.
  • be familiar with your location.. skip those stilettos if you’re standing in a field of soft grass or on the beach.
  • if you are going for light & airy, farmhouse style if you will, be sure to pick lighter colors. for an urban look, choose deeper and richer colors.  the key is to wear clothing that make you stand out against your backdrop.
  • once you have decided on your outfits, lay them out and snap a picture- how do they look together??

| match your outfit to your home |

ultimately you are printing the photos and displaying them in your home, right?  we have a canvas wall in our hallway that I love to update every year with a couple new pictures along with swapping out photos in the frames displayed around the house.

| come with ideas, but trust your photographer |

your photographer does this for a living. you should definitely let them add their creative touch to it!  it is helpful to come to your shoot with ideas, maybe some you have saved from a search online or Pinterest, but if those poses aren’t working be confident that what your photographer is capturing is beautiful anyway.  if your kid(s) is losing his mind or running like banshees know that your kids aren’t the only one’s that are “bad” for photos- a little grace in these types of situations goes a long way.

| limit props |

props are fun.  adding elements like furniture or a pretty blanket to your photo are always welcome, but too many props can take away from what you are really taking pictures of- your family!

| candid captures |

my most favorite photographs of my family are the ones where no one is looking, kids are giggling, or opportunities that weren’t even posed at all- like this one of Jordan, baby Baker and my mother in law- are documented.  the sweetest picture EVER and it wasn’t even planned.  ‘posed + smiling’ is always a win, especially with kids!  but having these “real” moments captured are truly freezing these memories in time.

| bring some one to entertain the little ones |

a handful of times we have brought BB + Papa to our photoshoots to help wrangle the littles while taking our family photos.  we went to the Texas State Fair last year and the grandparents tagged along to help manage the chaos and keep attention of my kids while we were taking photos in such a busy place.  BB entertained the babes while Britt and I talked about photo set up and execution.  that day ended up being REALLY busy (it was the last week of the Fair so everyone and their sister’s mother was there!  not amazing planning on my part.) so I was thankful for the extra hands.

| naps + snacks |

probably the most essential when you have young children.  I always have a snack or a treat and something to drink in my bag when we are heading out to take photos- like the time I happened to toss a handful of fruit snack packs into my diaper bag and Baker ate every single one of them. she was distracted by the snacks/reward during the photo session and Im not even mad about it.  whatever it takes.  2 year olds are unpredictable so letting that stress go for the hour is worth it to me. I would suggest not handing the entire bag to your child or you run the risk of them insisting that it be an extra “prop” in your photo.. handing them one or two treats that are easily hidden in their little hand is fine. it also helps to make sure your younger ones catch a nap on the day you are scheduled for your pictures.


I hope today’s 8 tips helped a bit in easing the stress of family photo planning+ outfit selection for future photo sessions!  have secrets of your own?  clue me in, friends! 




October 10, 2017

  1. Emily says:

    Question—I also too turn a lot of our family photos into canvases to display on our growing gallery wall–but what do you do with the canvases you replace? I don’t want to toss them, but storing them forever seems a bit much. Any advice?

    • amber says:

      thats an awesome question! we have walk in closets in our house- and I’ve created a collage of the old canvases in the kid’s closets! another option is to try and have them removed from the wood backing/frame and store them in a cardboard tube as a keepsake. hope thats helpful!

  2. Jessica N says:

    Oh my gosh, so timely. You should totally do a follow up post with outfit options! I would love that. The coordinating but not matching thing is so hard for me!

  3. I’ve learned to not have too high of expectations– so there’s less frustration on my part 😉 and just have fun and enjoy the moment! and holly hanna, YES to scheduling around a nap for the littles!