How to Get Great Family Photos

by | Children, Family

How to Get Great Family Photos

Kids, especially toddlers, are very expressive in their emotions which can make it hard to figure out how to get great family photos. They are wild and crazy, sweet and sassy, lovable and maddening! It’s such a wonderfully crazy phase of life that needs to be captured but is not always an easy task. I mean god forbid we ask our toddlers to stop running around for a mere second to pose and give a good smile. The audacity!! 

All of the reasons kids and toddlers make photoshoot a tad difficult are also the same reasons that make the photos so incredible. Adults can take direction, yes, but they also think too much about the awkwardness or the outcome of the photos rather than just being truly present during the shoot. Kids on the other hand are their authentic honest selves the entire time during a shoot! Their personality is bursting at the seams. They don’t know how to be anything else besides their true selves which makes for some natural genuine family photos.

No matter your kids behavior, I am never bothered by your kids! I have 3 of my own and have photographed many. I’ve had ones that run wild and others super camera shy and cling to their parents leg and everything in between. It’s all part of the process. I’ve also been on the other side. Being a mom during a photo shoot is STRESSFUL!!!  You’ve done all the work. Booked the photographer, done the consultation meetings, picked everyone’s outfits, got everyone ready and there on time. You want the experience to be fun and the pictures to turn out amazing.  Here are a couple of quick tips on how to get great family photos:


Part of my process as a photographer is trying to get to know my clients and their families before the actual photoshoot so that everyone is comfortable. Especially when there are kids involved! Kids are often more hesitant and scared when they don’t understand what is going on. Bring your kids to our consultation where we’ll discuss how to get those great family photos you’re envisioning. They can play around at the studio, check out my outdoor shoot location, they can check out my studio wardrobe and pick out an outfit they may want to wear during the shoot, and I can chat with them to get to know them so I don’t feel like a stranger to them come shoot day. The more involved in the process the kids are the more comfortable they will be come shoot day.


When kids feel in control, they adjust to new situations more seamlessly. They feel included and less like they are being forced to do something that they don’t want to do. If you’re doing an indoor session, have them be part of the process of deciding which backdrop to use. Even something small like letting them decide what accessory or shoes they want to wear can go such a long way in helping them cooperate to get some great family photos.


Don’t let your kids (or yourself) get hangry! We’ve all been there. It’s hard to calm down or follow directions when you’re hangry. Make sure your family eats a good meal before you come so you’re less likely to be hungry during the session. Also have a handful of easy, not too messy snacks with you to satisfy and hunger or requests that arise. A few of my low mess favorite snacks to have on hand are:

  • GoGoSqueez pouches
    • Pouches themselves are already not too messy but sometimes kids can squeeze them out all over themselves. These pouch lids and pouch and juice box holders are great for even less messy! 
  • Ritz bits sandwich crackers
  • String cheese
  • An apple
  • Trail mix
  • Mini muffins


The sitting posed pictures can be great but they can also feel forced and stiff at times! The playful, personality filled photos are the ones my clients always reach for during their photo reveal. They are the great family photos they end up cherishing the most. Let your family know it will be fun. They will have the opportunity to play and laugh! Don’t stress about your child not looking at the camera for the posed shot. Because while you are stressing and trying to get them to listen, you may be losing out on a much better shot: the true-to-life, full of personality ones. So embrace the toddlerhood! Follow the movement. Don’t be obsessed by eye contact. This is an age where energy and personality are what you want to capture! 


If your family has an activity or small game you like to play together, bringing that along can be a great trick on how to get great family photos. It gives you and your family something to focus on, engages your little ones, gives you something to do with your hands and helps the photos feel authentic. If your family loves to read, bring some books you can read together at the beginning of the shoot to make everyone feel at home. Grab a deck of cards to play go fish or uno, incorporate the snacks you bring along for a picnic, bring a speaker and play your families favorite dance music. When your family feels engaged in doing something you all love together, you’ll be able to capture great family photos.

Do you have any other ideas about how to get great family photos? Leave a comment below and share your experiences!


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