5 Tips for the Best Family Photo Shoot Ever

The hubby and I are taking our annual family photos as part of our 10 year anniversary celebrations this year and we’re taking our 18 month old and our 5 year old along. YIKES!

It’s not our first time taking family photos, but it is our first time taking a toddler and a first-grader to an out-of-town location to shoot photos for more than just a few minutes. I’m falling back on my previous experiences to plan for said photo shoot and I’ll be keeping the following in mind:

1. Choose the right location

Location, location, location… Pinterest is full of family photos taken at the beach, in a field of wild flowers, even along the side of an old barn. They look great, but before trying to recreate these images, ask yourself “Will my kids do well there?”

We’ve taken beautiful photos on the river in the past and I didn’t follow this tip. I was about 8 months pregnant and I had a 4 year old with me. We had to walk about a half a mile to get to the “perfect” photo spot that our photographer had found. We were mid-way through the walk and my husband was already carrying my 4 year old when it started to rain. Ugh. We should’ve chosen a more convenient location. Lesson learned.

This year we are going to a park. We will park in the parking lot and walk about 6 yards to the location. Perfect.

2. Time it right

Hungry, tired or rushed people tend to look hungry, tired or frazzled in pictures. Timing is everything. Everyone should have time to get ready and eat a meal and small children shouldn’t have to stay up late or skip a nap.

We like about 10 am. The morning light is still pretty, we’ve all had time to get ready and eat some food, and the baby can take her nap right as we finish up. Plus, we still have the whole rest of the day to look fancy!

3. Pack distractions

With small kids, I always plan for the “Mom, I’m bored!” moments. I try to keep family photos fun and upbeat so that the smiles aren’t forced. As a bonus, we always end up with great shots of our family playing and laughing together!

My Favorite Distractions for Little One:

  1. Bubbles: This year we are bringing bubble guns. I think they’ll look great in the photos and the kids can have fun playing with them together.
  2. A Ball: Again, great for photos, but also helpful to distract father and son while I take pictures with the baby.
  3. A Favorite Toy: It’s so nice that every year when we do these, we’re also documenting our children’s favorite toys! I love looking back and seeing what my son chose to bring in years past.
  4. Clean Snacks: My kids will always sit still for snacks! The trick is choosing clean snacks since they’ll be all dressed up. Some of my favorite clean snacks are: raisins, cereal, squeeze yogurts or applesauce and gum (for the older kids.)

4. Plan for accidents

Accidents happen, but if you plan for them, there’s no stress when they do!

I always have a backup outfit for the kids because, well, they’re kids. I also bring extra make-up and a hairbrush for touch-ups.

After a few photo shoots with small kids I have learned that I also need band-aids, stickers, and even a lollipop or two. If someone falls, I try the band-aid first, then the sticker, then the lollipop.

Other accidents to plan for: Bad weather, Someone running late or a last-minute location change (have a back-up in mind!) 

5. Keep it real

At the end of the day, you’re going to get pictures of your family. If you end up with pictures of a wet, tired, pregnant mom (Been there!) you still end up with pictures of your family. Try not to stress about it being perfect and plan on it looking like your real life. It takes a huge amount of pressure off and it helps make the whole experience more enjoyable!

Do you have tips to share? Comment below!