We love taking family pictures and take thousands of photos of our kids and our family activities. Over the years, we’ve improved our family photography skills, but we didn’t really get many truly outstanding family photos. It was clear we needed some expert tips for family photos.
We were so fortunate to spend a day with Jake and Dannie, two excellent family photographers on our trip to Rome with kids. The family photos they took for us are featured throughout this post about tips for family photos. As you can see, they are extremely talented at creating memorable family photos.
Some of the family pictures we had taken that day are some of our most treasured family photos. We were so impressed by their photography skills, we asked Jake to share his best tips for family photos. He graciously took the time to share his top 6 family photography tips with us.
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6 Best Tips for Family Photos
As parents and professional photographers, we know that toddlers can throw a wrench into family photo sessions. There’s no magic formula to guarantee that everything goes well on a photo shoot (with or without kids). But if you prepare yourself mentally and physically you can improve the odds that your family will have fun and the photographer will have a successful family photo session.
1. Have an Early Family Photo Session
If you ask a professional photographer about the best time for a family photo shoot, he or she will always tell you that the morning or the evening is best time for family photos because they want that golden hour light.
For the best family photo shoots, opt for the morning! Children, especially babies and toddlers, are more alert in the morning and you will get better behavior if they aren’t feeling sleepy yet. We’ve done plenty of sunrise and sunset family photo sessions with our own daughter and with the children of our clients, and we can say unequivocally that we capture more smiles in the morning.
If you are taking your family photos during the summer months, it is best to get the family photo shoot wrapped up before noon. In the summer, when the sun gets high, you’ll suddenly need to deal with harsh shadows and shiny, sweaty skin. Plan your family photo session early in the day and your family will look and feel better in your pictures.
There can also be a dramatic difference in the crowds, especially if you choose to have your family photo shoot at a popular landmark or attraction. Few tourists mind staying up until sunset to explore a city, but many will balk at the thought getting up early on vacation. Get up early for your family photo session and you’ll enjoy having the city to yourselves! Just don’t skip breakfast.
2. Dress your Family in Layers (and Bring Extras)
It’s always hard to count on the weather when taking family pictures, especially if you follow family photo tip #1 and take your pictures in the morning. It might be cool when you start your family photo session, but then it’ll warm up quickly as the sun gets higher.
Also, did you know that kids often sometimes get dirty? We’ll bet you did! Ensure you bring extra clothes for your family photo shoot and you won’t need to stress about your kids getting dirty. You’ll get better family photos when the kids are having fun, so let them play without worrying about their clothes getting dirty. You family photos will surely benefit!
As an added bonus, adding and removing layers can infuse a little variety into your family photo shoot and keep it from looking monotonous. With a change of clothing on hand, you can go ahead and get that cute ice cream shot without worrying too much about trying to hide a big stain for the rest of the hour!
3. Bring Toys and Snacks
A lot of the best baby photos capture little ones following wherever their curious hearts take them. Sometimes, however, you’re going to want them to interact with you. What’s a family photo without the rest of the family, after all? It helps to pack a little something to keep their attention.
An ideal lure is something they are familiar with that you know they will like (a toy or a favorite snack) and small enough that Mom or Dad can palm it or stick it in their pocket. Even if your kids are old enough or cooperative enough that they can participate in the family photo shoot without temptations, it helps to bring snacks just to keep them from getting hungry and grouchy.
Remember, kids don’t “get” photo shoots, so it’s nice to reward them with something they enjoy.
4. Plan for your Child’s Unique Personality
You know what your child enjoys, so plan to capture pictures of your kid showcasing their personality. If your little princess loves castles, dress her up and have your family photo shoot at a castle (or anything that her imagination will think is a “castle”). If you have an animal lover, maybe a take your family photo session to a park with a duck pond. In other words, if you want photos of your family having the time of your lives, make sure your child is having the time of her life.
Professional photographers have tricks for getting kids to look at the camera, but after one or two shots like that, you’re going to want to see some excitement in those little eyes. On the way to your photo shoot, talk about the photography, but also about the fun activities your kids will look forward to.
5. Be Happy During Your Family Photo Session
Perhaps one of the most important tips for family photos is to be happy. It’s so easy to get angry or frustrated during a family photo shoot. You know the drill… you got up early, did your makeup and got the whole family dressed up. Then Timmy threw a temper tantrum because you wouldn’t let him roll around in a puddle…. Try really hard to resist as your children can sense your mood, and they will react to it.
Be prepared to keep a positive attitude and adjust to the situation. Instead of getting frustrated about the problem, get excited about something else. Your kids will get excited too. We’re always amazed how many problems can be solved by rolling a ball or singing a song. Your kids’ short attention span might be annoying when you want to sit down and read a book, but it just might save your family photo shoot!
6. Let them See your Family Photos
Almost every kids is surprisingly camera aware, and they love it when they get to see the pictures on the back of the camera. Try asking your photographer to show your child the family pictures and let them know what a good job they are doing. You never know, you might just have given birth to a natural performer!
Should You Hire a Professional Photographer for your Family Photo Shoot?
Getting professional family photos during our family holidays has never really been something we’ve considered. It’s not that we were opposed to hiring a professional photographer it, we just hadn’t thought of it. We have a decent camera and have always enlisted the help of fellow tourists to take pictures of the whole family. In all honesty, we have been content enough with having the majority of our family pictures be of the kids or just one parent. Then we met Jake and Dannie…
We had been long time followers of Jake and Dannie on Instagram and it just turned out we were going to be in Rome at the same time. We contacted them with the intention of meeting up to let our kids play together and to enjoy the company of another traveling family.
They were gracious enough to offer to take a few family pictures of us before we headed out on our adventure for the day. Of course, we accepted! After seeing their beautiful pictures on Instagram, nobody in their right mind would turn down that offer.
In his tips for family photos, Jake recommends getting an early start to the day. We met them around 8:30 in the morning at the location they suggested near the Colosseum. After taking a few family shots of us, we tried one more location nearby. As professional photographers, they had already scouted the locations and knew exactly where to go.
The pictures they took of this day are not only some of the best family photos we have but we feel they are so representative of us and our passion for active travel.
Comparing our typical family photographs to the ones Jake took, the quality difference is remarkable. If you have the time and means, we highly recommend having a professional photographer for your next family photo shoot.
Where can you find a professional photographer for your net family photo shoot? Flytographer makes it super easy, with talented local photographers in over 350 destinations around the world.
We hope that Jake’s tips for family photos helps your capture some truly remarkable pictures of your kids!
Improve Your Photography Skills
You can see above what a talented photographer Jake is. Lucky for us he has published a book on Easy Manual Mode Photography.
For additional photography tips, check out these highly rated photography books:
- National Geographic Photo Basics: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Great Photography
- The Beginner’s Photography Guide
- BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro