As a Port Angeles family photographer, I too often meet families who are nervous to get family photos taken, or who feel some sort of pressure to have their family photos look a certain way. We all grew up taking photos with our families for those cheesy Christmas cards, and now we believe that’s the only way to take family photos – but luckily, there is so much more freedom in family photos than you may have ever realized. I’m here today to give you the only tip for good family photos that I believe you will ever need, one that trumps every other tip you’ve found on Google or heard from your friends.
I hope you leave this blog post feeling confident and encouraged to invest in photos of your family that will document every unique season of your lives. Photos that will capture your most authentic selves in a beautiful way without any expectations, pressure, or nerves.
The Only Tip You’ll Ever Need for Good Family Photos
As I mentioned before, I’ve met so many parents who want to get photos taken of them and their kids, but are nervous to do so because of the expectations they think will be placed on them.
The expectation of “perfection;” the expectation of “beauty” that they feel they need to present in their family photos. The expectation to come across as a picture-perfect, happy family in the photos you’ll post on Facebook, Instagram, or include on your Christmas cards.
Whether these expectations come from their family, friends, or simply from society as a whole, I wholeheartedly believe that the best way to document the most authentic, meaningful family photos is to simply let go of the pressure to perform.
This is what stops most families from investing in family photos, or what stops their family photos from truly documenting their truest selves and instead ending up cheesy + inauthentic.
Now I’m not saying your family photos shouldn’t be cheesy at all – there’s something classic about those smiling-at-the-camera, wearing-matching-outfits family photos that your grandparents love to get every year.
But that shouldn’t be the entirety of your family photos. Your family photos should document you and your family in your most natural forms, released of any expectation to look or act a certain way. Freed from the pressure to perform. That, my friends, is when you’ll truly be able to have family photos that feel like you, that capture authentic memories, and that you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives.
Here are a few ways to help your family photos be an authentic representation of your family, and to help you in letting go of any pressure you may feel going into your family session!
Incorporate your natural & daily lives
One way to easily create natural, authentic family photos is to incorporate your daily lives into your photos. We can do this by photographing your family at your own home, in your own space, doing activities your kids love (like cooking, playing games, or just running around in the backyard) and activities that you love to do as a family. Allow your love for each other to shine through in your photos in a tangible and energetic way by doing things that make you happy, and that you already do in your daily lives together.
Let your kids be themselves
The most important thing to me during family sessions is that no one, especially the kids, feel pressure to perform. I want children in family photos to be themselves. Wild and silly and honest. The worst thing you can do before family photos is ask your kids to behave a certain way, or put pressure on them to be “calm,” “put together,” or “quiet,” – they’ll feel that pressure and won’t feel freedom to be themselves.
Allow your kids to run around, be messy, barely smile at the camera; I promise you it’ll make for a much more fun and natural family session that feels authentic to you. By encouraging your kids to be themselves, we can hone in on each of their unique talents and personalities. I’d much rather allow that to come through in your photos rather than the stress of trying to get them to perform a certain way.
No cheesy Christmas card poses here
I’m pretty against posing children for more than a few photos during a session, and am much more about being authentic to their unique personalities. It’s my job to set you all up to interact and enjoy your time together; I will make sure to adjust and direct you as needed but YOU are perfect just being you.
Yes, we’ll get a few classic, posed photos for you to hand off to your loved ones who are expecting them. However, our session will really revolve around documenting your family in a much more organic way.
Pick outfits that feel natural to you – no matching required
Say goodbye to the expectation of matching outfits – instead, wear clothing that feels natural to you, and that’s simply cohesive in its color scheme. Wear items that allow you to move around freely and enjoy yourselves with your children. I’m more than happy to help out with this, if you’re stuck on what to wear! This recent Instagram post of mine features yet another beautiful family session with super gorgeous outfit choices if you need some more inspo.
Have your family session filmed
Another way to add an extra level of personalization & meaning to your family session is to have it not only photographed, but filmed. I’m a videographer as well and I love filming family sessions more than anything, and being able to give you a short video that captures the moments, sounds, voices, and laughter in ways that photos can’t. I always recommend investing in a film in addition to your photos if you are able to!
Spend a few minutes focusing on you
I don’t want you, as parents, to feel stressed or overwhelmed going into your family session. Which is why I love to make sure we set aside some time to capture not only photos of just your kids enjoying themselves, but also of you together, as parents. It’s so important to bring the focus back to you and document the two of you together, away for just a little while from the craziness of the beautiful family you’ve built together.
Unique & Authentic Family Photo Inspiration
I highly recommend taking a look at some of my recent family sessions to really get a feel for what I mean when I say organic, authentic, family photos. The sessions below are some of my favorites, showing different types of families and even an outdoor maternity session. I’d be absolutely honored to photograph your family, too – you can reach out to me here, and we’ll plan a session to document this season of your beautiful family’s life.