Five ways to make sure you get awesome family pictures

Do you ever look wistfully at your last family pictures on your phone and wish it were print-worthy?  But your daughter has the cheesy camera smile and your son is looking off to the side (probably at the squirrel in the yard…) and your poor husband just wants to escape back to the football game.

Jonathan and I firmly believe that every family needs pictures.  Whether we do it for you or your next door neighbor’s brother’s girlfriend who is starting a photography business and needs people to practice on does it (although we really hope that you can see the benefit to having a tried and true professional deliver guaranteed results to you) is immaterial.  Why does everyone need family pictures?  Well, I’m glad you asked!

  • You really need something to look back on in 5 or 10 years so you can say “Wow, I looked amazing!” or “Look how far we’ve come, I remember when…”
  • You need a visual reminder as to how quickly the kiddos in your life change so you can appreciate the moments you have left with them.
  • Your children love you, regardless of how you may dislike how you look.  They don’t care about the 10 extra pounds, or the frizzy hair, or the wrinkles.  They love YOU and how you make them FEEL.  They want those pictures to remember YOU.

So let’s plan for amazing and fabulous family pictures!  Here are 5 quick tips and ideas to help you get success for anything from a quick snapshot of everyone or a highly planned and well thought out family portrait session, hopefully with us behind the camera.  🙂

1. Plan in advance as much as possible.  Let’s assume you’re going to get something that you absolutely love and will want to see everyday on your wall.  In that case, where are you doing to display your portraits?  Your living room?  Over the mantel?  Office?  Lake home?  Remember to consider the room that is going to be the intended home to your new portraits in your planning.  What color are the walls painted? What color is the furniture?  How would you describe your decor taste?  Eclectic?  Classic?  Modern?  These are all factors that need to be considered for who might be in charge of creating these portraits for you (because not everyone behind a camera can pull off the look you want), what color or style of clothing are you going to wear and if it’s going to be photographed inside a studio or outside on location.

See how a nice wall portrait can work with the room colors and furniture? This piece complements the room quite fabulously and looks like it belongs there.

2. Clothes make all the difference.  In general, you’ll want clothing to be subtle in terms of patterning unless you have a specific look you are looking to achieve.   Ever look back on your family images from when you were a kid and cringe at those outfits?  Look for outfits that are classic with solid colors and fit everyone well.  Avoid the trendy look with what’s in style currently…otherwise, your children and grandchildren will have a great time laughing about the outfits in 20 or 30 years!

I love all of the green and blue tones for their wardrobe in this image!  We were able to keep the color palette in the cool tones to really pop their warm skin tones.

3. Don’t go tanning or use self-tanners before the session.  Have you ever seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?  Remember the Oompa-Loompas?  Yes, that can be you if you get your sun from the artificial route.  Thankfully I won’t show you any samples of this one.

4. Guys love to get haircuts the day before a portrait session.  Encourage them to do it a minimum of a week before your portraits to have their hair grow out just a little bit so it doesn’t look too freshly shorn.  Hair stylists tend to trim guy’s hair a bit shorter so the cut will last longer.  Ladies, if you are planning on having your hair colored prior, plan 1-2 weeks out.  You’ll want some shampoo time between your hair appointment and your portraits to soften the tone.  Don’t do a drastic hairstyle change too soon before or after your portrait session.

5. If you have young kids, don’t coach them prior to portraits with how to smile.  All it does is ensure you will end up with the dreaded camera smile that never quite reaches their eyes.  Think about the things that makes your kids crack up.  Almost always, if they are elementary age, it will circle around bathroom humor.  Teenagers…it revolves around the opposite sex.  Think about this in advance and let the photographer know so they can use it to get those cute grins and laughs out of your kiddos!


See what I mean in this example?  We live with these two so I can make fun of them…in the first image, both boys technically are smiling, but it doesn’t reach their eyes.  In the image on the right, I obviously said something crazy and goofy and got them to actually smile with their whole face.  I probably told them to say fart.  I swear…boys.  Sheesh!

At SPC Portrait Art, we strive to create portraits that will stand the test of time and look amazing not only 5 years from now but even 50 and 100 years from now.  Our ultimate goal is to help you look amazing, create a fabulous relationship with you and ultimately become your family historian.  We believe it’s not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that matters. We celebrate your family.