My Tips For Nailing Family Photos

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Eva Amurri shares her tips for nailing family photos

This blog post was originally published on November 11th, 2019.

I originally published the below post a few years ago…but as we head into the season of carefully orchestrated family photos, I knew it needed a repost! The benefit of doing a photo shoot at my home once a week is that I have lots and lots (and lots and lots) of practice trying to capture photos of my kids that evoke their true personalities. It’s not easy to get them all in the right mood and to set the tone for a positive experience. Plus, as a Mom, the last thing you want to do is be so stressed out trying to make sure the kids look good in the photos that you look like a shell of yourself in the photos.

I hope these tips help you and give you a bit of a laugh. At the end of the day, authentically smiling families are the best to see. If the vibe isn’t about smiles, then go with whatever the vibe is giving that day! It’s so much better to represent who you are authentically than to force out a cheesy grin. I personally love the photos in this blog post because they were taken in some in-between moments during my day of shoots for the Collection. The kids ran in to say hello to me, all in their school clothes and a little dirty. But I think it captures their spirits and their dynamic so much better than overly posed photos could. Just some food for thought, to take the pressure off a bit, as we plan to take our family pics this fall and winter!

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This time of year is prime for a family photo! And over the past four years of my blog, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about navigating family photo shoots.  They’re not the easiest– in fact, sometimes I feel like I sweat through my entire outfit wrangling all the moving parts– but we almost always hit my ultimate goal of capturing my kids’ essence in the pics and creating memories that I feel really represent who we all are.  I thought now would be a great time to share a few of my best tips and tricks for creating the best family memories!

  1. Timing is everything! Try to schedule your shoot at a realistic time for the ages and moods of everyone in your family, NOT according to what will work for a sunset, a special event, or a photo concept.  I promise the photo concept will fall flat if everyone is in a terrible mood. When my kids were little, I always made sure to shoot AFTER nap time, and never around a time when they would be hungry or getting tired. There’s nothing worse than paying for time with an amazing photographer…who is capturing images of your cranky child.
  2. Bribery is acceptable. It’s ok to give your kid a cookie before a photo shoot. Or a new little toy, or promise the iPad for after. I draw the line at soda, but you get the idea.
  3. Feel great about yourself. I know as a Mom that we often put ourselves last on the “getting ready” list.  Not today. Disappear for an hour and make your hair and makeup look great. Or go someplace and get a blowout! You want to look back on these pictures and feel like you were as glowing and easy breezy beautiful as you imagine yourself in your Mom Fantasies…Ryan Gosling included.
  4. Coordinate your outfits! Coordination can mean totally matching, or it can mean that you choose items that are all within a certain color story (For example creams, reds, and black). Another idea I love is everyone in the same print style but different versions– like a stripe! Try to stray away from big logos or anything that “dates” the photo. If you’re putting a lot of effort into one shoot, you want the images to feel timeless and beautiful to look at for years to come.
  5. Music helps. If my kids (or myself) are veering into a cranky territory, I find it works really well to put a fun music playlist on my phone and crank up the volume.  It makes everyone loosen up and move more freely– and I usually have a big ‘ole smile on my face watching my kiddos dance around.
  6. Real, engaged expressions photograph the best. Don’t aim for your typical “cheese” face, with everyone looking at the camera. I find these photos to look really flat, and oftentimes the people in them look nothing like they look in real life when they make those faces! Instead, I aim for a more animated facial expression– which I wrote an entire blog post on HERE. There are lots of tips in it for how I navigate capturing the best images of the kids!

I hope these tips are helpful to you, and please share if you have any great ones to add to the community!!

Eva Amurri shares her tips for nailing family photos

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Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2022 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. Kristen says:

    Perfect timing as we are doing our family photos on Saturday (of course it’s going to be FRIGID in CT!) but will try to work that in our favor… “oh hey, we get to be outside without our coats this morning!”

    11.07.19 Reply
  2. Georgia says:

    Thank you!! Great post. Any tips for family photo shoots with a newborn? We are expecting our first soon and I’m not a fan of the portrait studio / costumey-looking ones – want something that looks as natural as possible.

    11.07.19 Reply
  3. A says:

    We have better luck with our kiddos (pre-school age) when we are doing an activity (baking cookies) or even just playing at the playground. They are genuinely happy bc they are on swings or the slide and the pics capture that beautifully.

    11.07.19 Reply