This post is sponsored by The Children’s Place, however all opinions are my own.
Guess what time it is?! Holiday card time! Right now is the most popular time for holiday photoshoots, and your crew is going to need the perfect family picture outfits.
And you know what I’m asked more than anything? How do I get such great pictures of my kids.
Believe me, we all struggle with getting kids to look at the camera, smile, pull their hands out of their pocket, and the like.
But after 2.5 years of 1-3x a week photo shoots with my kids, I’ve learned some secrets to getting the best possible photos. I’m sharing my family holiday picture ideas with you so you too can get Instagram-worthy, “How do I select just one?!” holiday photo cards.
And if you follow these steps, I highly suggest photo cards with more photo slots than just one… because you’re going to need them!
Your photographer is the single most important element of a family photo shoot. A good photographer will put each member of your family at ease, help you find a great location and time of day, work with you on clothing, poses and styling.
Family photographers are experienced with helping kids feel happy and comfortable during photo shoots, thereby getting the best possible results. Some photographers have games they play with kids, make funny noises, use props, play songs, etc to help your child look at the camera and smile.
I know your biggest concern when booking a photographer is probably price. And photographers may charge anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars.
I completely get your concern. But family photography is an investment. These are precious photos you will look back on for the rest of your life.
Do you want the slideshow at your child’s wedding to be from some cut-rate photographer or do you want to feel proud to share your pictures on Instagram?
If you find a dream photographer who is out of your budget, I highly suggest calling or emailing them and seeing if they will work with you. Maybe you can shoot during the week or when they are less busy (again October – November is peak family photo shoot season. So expect the best photographers to be completely booked every weekend during these months).
You have your photographer, next up is your dream location. What kind of shoot do you want? At the beach? In a photo studio with a white or other fixed backdrop? In the park? At home?
The look and feel of your photos is all centered around the location. I personally love to shoot outdoors as the lighting tends to be gorgeous and kids generally love being outdoors.
If you live in a colder climate this may mean booking your shoot earlier in the Fall season.
3. Time of Day
Once your location is finalized, nailing the time of day that you shoot is crucial for the best lighting.
Lighting is the single most important element of photos besides the photographer and their camera. No amount of editing can fix bad lighting.
I tend to shoot in the mornings or late afternoon. Midday has the harshest lighting, and the only way to get good results from a midday shoot outdoors is in the shade.
If your kids are younger, you will also want to plan around nap times. For younger kids I recommend late afternoons as they have already had 1-2 naps and generally the last nap of the day (if they’re on 3 naps) is pretty short. They can snooze on the way to or from the shoot.
Late afternoon lighting is my absolute favorite!
4. Meet Your Photographer in Advance
Alright, now you have your photographer booked with your location and time of day…
The next step is to meet with your photographer in person to familiarize your kids with him or her. Ever notice how shy kids can be meeting a stranger? Harper, who is a gregarious outgoing child, is even shy meeting new people.
Building rapport in advance is a great way to help you and your kids feel comfortable shooting with someone.
You want to feel natural and at ease during the shoot to get the best photos of your family, and knowing the person behind the lens really helps this happen!
5. Talk to Your Kids About the Shoot
Whenever my kids are transitioning to a new activity, I talk to them about it in advance so they know exactly what is going to happen.
I learned this trick because my son Grayson has sensory processing disorder (that he’s mostly outgrown), but this tool is great in helping kids feel secure in their environment.
Talk to your kids about the shoot! Tell them where and when you are going to shoot. Practice doing some poses. Show them examples of photos you like. Make it fun!
You can do this when driving to or from school, making dinner or doing other things around the house.
Just casually bring up the shoot so they know what to expect.
6. Pick Out Your Outfits
My favorite part of photo shoots? The wardrobe! As you know I love fashion, and my family has been dressing in matching family styles since they were born.
Have fun picking out your family photo outfits! For the past few years, I’ve shopped at The Children’s Place for my kids’ dressy clothing and matching family pajamas.
The Children’s Place makes quality clothing at fantastic prices that every family can afford. The best part is that they offer matching family dressy styles (and pjs!) which makes for amazing holiday photos. You can check out their holiday collection here.
I usually narrow the choices down to a few outfits and enlist my family to help pick their family picture outfits.
You’ll notice I said outfits. I recommend bringing 4-5 outfits for your family and planning to wear 2-3 of them during your photo shoot.
This way you get variety in your photos. And different fashion choices completely change the look and feel of your photos!
Number 7 is optional, but I always like to bring some fun props to a photo shoot.
This year we wore matching family reindeer headbands from The Children’s Place. Last year we wore elf booties and matching Santa hats.
Other prop examples are balloons, signs, letter boards, chalk boards and holiday decor. Have fun with props, but you may want to save these for the end as they can distract your kids!
8. Feed Your Kids Before the Shoot
What happens when your kids get cranky? Now imagine that during a photo shoot!
Believe me that it’s much easier to get happy cooperative kids when their bellies are full!
I also suggest bringing a few easy snacks (nothing messy) in case they need to eat a little something during the shoot.
9. Let the Photographer Take Some Snaps of Your Kids On Their Own
This is my #1 photo shoot secret! Let your photographer snap some pictures of your kids without you there.
You can try something like “oh mommy and daddy need to change” or grab some water. Think about a few excuses in advance so you can easily slip away while your photographer snaps some shots for a few minutes.
Have you ever been told by your child’s teacher how good they are at school? My daughter’s teacher always remarks how quiet Harper is. But Harper is NOT a quiet child!
She is just on her best behavior at school and trying hard to please her teacher.
This is exactly what will happen when you step away from the photo shoot. In addition, this gives your photographer some time to develop a rapport with your child and do what they do best, which is bring the best out of your child!
10. After the Shoot, Talk to Your Kids About It, Thank Them, etc
Finally, when you’re done with your family photo shoot, thank your kids for doing a great job! Celebrate by going out to dinner, watching a movie or making ice cream sundaes.
I’m a huge believer in letting my kids know how much I appreciate them pitching in to help out in our family.