Fall family photos are my fave (say that fast three times!) and fall is the most popular time for family photoshoots, since you all want a current photo for those holiday cards. Since we’ve had 8 family photoshoots since Charlie was born (well, 6 plus one maternity and then a recent newborn shoot for Calvin), so I feel like I’m becoming an expert. And while some of these tips are kiddo related, you can use a lot of these to prep for an engagement session as well.
1. Get an idea of what kind of shoot you’d like to do. Do you want a relaxed shoot at home or an elaborate shoot with props? Thinking about what you want, and then getting realistic about how practical it would be to actually do is the first step. Do you have kids? How many and what are their ages? You probably don’t want to go hiking into the mountains with three kids under three, for example.
2. Pick a location (or two) for your photos. Personally, I like selecting places that are meaningful to you as a couple or family. We’ve done photo shoots at home, at the park where my husband and I had our first date, where we used to hike every weekend before we had a baby, and one of Charlie’s favorite places to visit. If your favorite place is visually appealing, all the better! When in doubt, pick a park or other open, outdoor area (weather permitting). If it isn’t a place you or your photographer visit frequently, try scouting the location ahead of time if you can. And nothing beats a gorgeous tree with colorful leaves in a fall family photo!
3. Pick a date at least a couple of weeks in advance so you can prepare your appearance. Did you overeat on the Halloween candy? You have a couple of weeks to get in a few extra workouts. Need a haircut? You have time. Get a manicure – I always forget how much you end up seeing our hands, especially as the mom who is often holding the baby or kiddo.
4. Start gathering any props you need to bring your vision to life. This might be as elaborate as a Christmas tree or as simple as a scarf. Just start thinking about what you want to use and gather it up in case you have trouble finding something and need to come up with a Plan B.
5. Remember your kiddos are just kids. They aren’t professionals, or even grown ups. So pick the time of day that they are in the best mood. For us, it is the morning. We’ve always shot around 10 am until lunchtime and it works perfectly. For others, it might be after nap time. Whatever it is that works best for your kids, try to work with them. Because if they are going to have a meltdown or be uncooperative, it will be the day you have a photoshoot scheduled. But remember, meltdowns can often make for some unexpectedly great photos, so just go with it 🙂
6. Make sure everyone has eaten. No one is happy when they’re hungry. Have snacks and water on hand just in case (and for bribes!)
7. Dress for the weather. If it is cold, wear sweaters and coats – they make for great photos, especially for holiday cards. But if you’re like me, living in LA where it is still 80 degrees some days, you’re going to have to do sweater photos indoors or just embrace the weather you’re in. Overheated (or freezing) family members don’t make for happy photos.
8. This might be obvious, but find a good photographer. I cannot tell you how important it is to have your family documented by a professional who knows what they are doing and can deliver beautiful photos that you’ll always treasure. We’ve been lucky enough to be photographed by the same photographer, who was also our wedding photographer. We have a wonderful relationship and each time we have a photoshoot it is easier than the last because we’ve done it before. And whether I feel pretty that day or Charlie is cooperating, I always trust her to deliver stunning photos. Because she always does.
9. Relax and just have fun. The best photos are the candid ones of you being a family, rather than the posed ones. Get some of those too, but try to just relax, play, and be yourselves. Try not to focus on what you want the result to be and just enjoy the experience. You’ll get the best (and most honest and real) photos that way.
10. Coordinate your wardrobe, but not too much. There is a fine line between coordinating and too matchy-matchy. Selecting complimentary patterns, or colors (think varying shades of the same color) are a great way to go. You do not have to match. In fact, it looks better when you don’t. Bring a change of clothes if you want more than one look, or in case you get muddy, have a potty accident, etc. And always bring a couple of accessories like hats or scarves (we always throw a hat on Charlie and it is so adorable). And a pop of color is a must! My favorite way to coordinate parents and kids: patterns like plaid under a sweater for dad, chambray or denim and a colorful sweater on kiddos (that match a color in dad’s plaid), and a pop of color in accessories like scarves or shoes for mom. Keep the parents in more neutral basics except for a pop and let the kiddos be more colorful. My basic wardrobe styling formula for family photos is: coordinating neutrals on dad (with maybe a pop of color tee peeking out under a sweater or jacket) + colorful pattern on kid + mom in coordinating pop of color (works great if it is pants/skirt, scarf, or shoes) = family photo perfection. And denim or chambray is always a winner! Here are some examples of ways you can style your wardrobe without being overly matchy-matchy.
Hope this helps you prepare for your own family photoshoots! I’d love to see your fall family photos on instagram: hashtag them #lovelyfallfamily so I can follow along 🙂
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