It is possible to create catalogue worthy family photos even when you’re dealing with small children, chilly temps, and animals! It may seem stressful – which photographer to use, what outfits to wear, where and when to take the photos, and most importantly “how do I get kids my kids to smile on cue?!” Spoiler alert, you really can’t – but you can get some awesome candid shots and they will include smiles. Or, there is always photoshop (half joking). There are some keys to create magical photos that will capture your family at their best. I know you’re being inundated with the cutest cards delivered straight to your mailbox, and I’m not going to lie – some of them are amazing. Let’s discuss how to create beautiful images that capture your family at their best.
Which photographer to use? This is a pretty easy answer – do your research! I love lifestyle photographers – these are people who capture moments of your family moving, interacting, and just being yourselves. They aren’t necessarily staged and they usually aren’t posed – if they are, it’s a loose pose such as “stand together,” or “hold hands.” I found Jessi Rogers Photography through instagram (check our her Facebook page here). Her feed has gorgeous family moments, and she works with the right lighting and in beautiful settings. As a photographer you have two great options for light – either 1 hour after sunrise or 1 hour before sunset. These times provide the best colors for taking photos. If those times aren’t available, cloudy days are perfect. You don’t have to work around the sun and shadows. Having a beautiful setting can be as simple as finding a set of evergreens or a pretty path. It doesn’t have to be a huge park – you only need a few small spots. We had such a fun time at a park local to my house. I highly recommend Jessi Rogers Photography if you are local to metro Detroit, but if you’re not, seek out a few photographers and speak to them – ask them about timing, lighting, and if they are lifestyle photographers or portrait based (and this is totally up to you – and what type of photos you want to capture). Jessi and I spoke about what images I wanted to create, what we would be wearing, and who to include – she was totally open to getting photos of my dog, and I loved that. Make sure your photographer listens to you, and that your ideas are in line with each other. With creative types, it’s very normal to find sand artist that has one idea when you really want something else – so do your best to find someone you really groove with. I told Jessi I would have been fine with an image of my husband and I talking a stroll with our kids running around like crazy in the background – because that’s real life, and would make a hilarious card. She completely agreed, and we ended up with beautiful images that included our dog. She also collaborated with a local cookie company, Detroit Dough. Detroit Dough makes the most amazing sugar cookies that look perfect and taste so delicious. You can contact her for Christmas cookies, or cookies for a special event (think showers, weddings, work parties, etc.). Check out her instagram to see her awesome work!
What to wear? The best piece of advice is wear a color palette that is in your home. If you have mostly beiges, grays, and neutrals, wear the same. It will ensure the photos on your wall, match your home. Otherwise you will end up with pops of color that do not match and through off your interior decor. If you have pops of red in your home, add that into the mix. If you love patterns, add those in as well – just be sure to mimic the photo styling to your home. If you forget this, there is always black and white, which goes with everything. For our shoot, I chose deep greens, grays, some light pink and brown/beige, which is what runs throughout our home. We worked on a beautiful fall day, so we have that imagery in the background, as well as some really adorable themed images with evergreen and Christmas plaid. I’ve linked our outfits below, so you can get an idea of what works and where to buy.
Where and when to take the photos? This is a question the photographer should help you with – recommending spots they usually use, and times of day to capture the best light. Some of the best spots are parks, open areas with large trees, lakes, even schools and churches with large walls to use as backdrops. I also love city settings, such as a cute small town or large city with lots of interesting spots. The area doesn’t have to be big – it can be a set of trees you have in your backyard or your garage door. Just check on lighting and shadows. You also need to think about nap times and when your children behave their best. We all have our moments, so make sure photography is scheduled when you are most likely to have a happy baby/child/husband. It makes the photographers job so much easier!
How do I get my kids to smile? Let’s go back to timing – it has to be when they are just awake and fed, so in the morning or an hour after nap time. For the more basic of tactics, the promise of suckers and candy works. So does having them say “poop.” I didn’t say it was going to be pretty (or sound pretty), but it totally works. No one can say poop with a straight face. Or take words out of the book with no words – these are tricks sure to make your kids smile. If they are babies, you can use jingle bells or their favorite stuffed toy, or a puppet.
If you are in need of Christmas gift ideas, giving a gift card to a friend, family, or your parents is a great idea. Jessi Rogers Photography has gift cards available, so you can give the gift of family portraits. I’ve done this in the past for my parent’s anniversary, and I’ve heard it done for baby showers and newborns! I’ve linked outfit ideas below, and please let me a comment if you have any tips of your own for getting the best family photos!
Photo Credit: Jessi Rogers Photography
Cookie Credit: Detroit Dough