7 Tips For Successful Family Photos


Family photos are very important to my husband and I.  We make sure to set aside the time and money each year so we can fill our walls with our beautiful kiddos and have memories to look back on for years to come.

I want to see the changes in each of us as the years pass, I want to remember the way Emmalyn and Owen would play together and the joy on their faces when they would look at each other.  I want to be able to look back to the time we could hold all three in our arms, before they get too big and too cool for us to cuddle.  I want to always remember the way Elizabeth would only snuggle her mama, and the way Owen looked at his dad with such admiration.  


Even though family photos are very important to me, it doesn’t mean they aren’t stressful sometimes. I am after all getting three kids, 1 husband, and myself together for pictures I want to hang all over my home. The stress for perfection is sometimes overwhelming.  Over the years I’ve found a lot of tricks to help us take the stress away so we can enjoy the experience. I’m happy to pass along my tips to you so you can have stress free family photos.

We’ve taken a lot of different types of photos from documentary to lifestyle to posed shots.  You can check out my list of Favorite Columbus Photographers to find one that fits your style.  



Call in the Experts! No need to stress over haircuts or the silly way those bangs are growing in when you consult the experts.  In our family the guys go to Royal Rhino Club - Barbershop & Lounge  for the perfect cut with the most amazing barbers and the girls go to Charles Penzones.  We do this about a week before photos and we all end up very happy with the end result.  If you’ve never been to Royal Rhino Club, I highly recommend it. We’ve tried a lot of places for great cuts for my guys and have never found any place better than Royal Rhino.  

Coordinate Outfits But No Need To Match - This is a big one! The days of jeans on bottoms and white tops are behind us (thankfully)! Let your kiddos pick out their own clothes, they will feel more confident and happy in clothes they pick out which makes for a happier experience for everyone.  You can coordinate your outfits so they are in the same color family but don’t stress over it.  I love to shop at Carter’s and Cub Shrub for our young ones and for myself I love The Gemma Shop

Bring Bribes! I always bring M&M’s because they are easy, mess free, and chocolate. It really meets all the requirements for a bribe.  I know it probably sounds better to call it a reward but let’s keep it real. I’m not above bribing my kids to get one great family photo.  (Note: I truly only ask for ONE family photo where we are all smiling at the camera, the rest I’m happy for candid shots. Just give me one good one for the Christmas Card please)


Start with Full Bellies! This is a big one! Don’t start family photos before you’ve had a good meal.  The kids will be much happier and will smile for the camera a lot easier if you feed them first?  Running short on time? Run through Chick-fil-A on your way - just make sure they aren’t in their photo outfits. You can easily change a kiddo in the car right before photos.  

Stay On Schedule! Nothing is worse during family photos than a tired kid, no amount of bribes can help here.  If you really want “Golden Hour Photos” - make sure you adjust naptime so your kiddo is okay with staying up past bedtime.  If you can though, stick to your normal schedule and plan photos around you. If your photographer can’t make that work, no hard feelings, it just may mean you need a new photographer.  

Pick A Great Photographer! You don’t want to spend $$$ on a photographer who can’t get your kid to smile, or someone who isn’t your style. It’s okay to be selective and make sure you’ve found the best fit for you.  We are so lucky in Columbus to have so many great photographers.  I have a whole list of my favorites, hopefully you will find one that you love from this list.  

Let It Go! So much easier said than done. Mamas I feel you - we want these photos, we want the one good one for the family Christmas Card.  It's easy to get stressed out. A few years ago I decided to let go of my expectations and see what happened.  The end result? We ended up with much better photos because everyone was happy and the pressure was off. The photo below is from a moment during photos this year when my son was too overwhelmed. I sat with him, we talked, and he asked if he could have a few photos with just me.  We did what he asked and then he went back to family photos - I was able to pause and give him what he needed and it really helped.  It was great that we had an amazing photographer who was also happy to put the needs of my kids above everything else. 

One more thing - make sure you get a photo of just you and your spouse.  The love the two of you share should be documented often! 


All photos were taken by Natalie from White Elm Photography who we adore!! 

Eryn GilsonComment