How to Take Better Family Photos + Outfit Ideas

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This was our first time having professional family photos taken since moving back to the Mainland from Hawaii in spring of 2020.  Fall is here and the kids are growing like weeds, so I figured it was about time we captured this precious stage and had some nice family photos taken.  I was able to schedule a mini session with Jennifer Bosak, a DC/Northern Virginia wedding photographer.  The photos on her site are so beautiful and I knew that she was the perfect one to take our family photos!

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Family Photo Outfit Inspiration

I decided I wanted an earthy color palette, so here are the key outfit pieces we used:

family photo outfit inspiration

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My smocked dress was the perfect option for family photos (or upcoming events like Thanksgiving).  Comfortable, flattering, and it doesn’t wrinkle.  This dress runs true to size and comes in a number of colors and patterns.  And it’s under $40 on Amazon Prime!  I kept my earrings simple with small gold hoops, and I wore brown suede ankle boots.  Mine are from last year but this is the current version.  The girls dresses (here and here) aren’t available in green online right now but they are available in colors that would still work nicely.  Their brown suede Mary Janes are from Amazon and they come in a number of colors.  I’m very impressed with them!  These chunky cotton tights are our very favorite (Tate’s pack and Caroline’s pack).  They’re durable and warm and look really nice too.  We went with the tan pair for photos because I was afraid the white would show dirt too easily for photos because I know my children always end up wrestling or sitting on the ground.  This is our favorite set of bows (20 for $10 for the 4.5″ size) and we opted for the cream bow rather than white, since it’s fall.  Jack’s boots are great because they don’t have laces (he doesn’t know how to tie them yet and I didn’t want to deal with them) and they’re nice and warm.  Corduroy pants are classic and I love the look of a chunky cream sweater (we had a white button down oxford underneath).  Tom wore this shawl collar sweater over a white button down oxford, darker khakis and a pair of dressy boots I randomly bought him at Walmart last year.

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How to Get the Best Family Photos

Family photos can be stressful, so here are a few tips to make them easier and all you to get the best results!

  • Choose a photographer that has a photography and editing style that really resonates with you.  I know I like bright and airy photos and candid natural “poses” so when I found Jennifer I knew we would be a good fit.  One way to find a photographer is to ask for recommendations from friends, and you can also check hashtags on Instagram like #dcphotographer (using the city you live in, of course).
  • Bring mini marshmallows as bribery.  This is my number one tip after this session!!  I had a handful of mini marshmallows squished in my hand almost the entire time.  I handed them out freely to get the kids to stand still and be happy.  They’re the perfect photo snack because they’re mess free, easy to hide, and quick to eat.  I had a bag of them out of the shot and would replenish my handful as needed.  Worked like a charm!
  • Smile through it all!  Caroline was on the verge of a meltdown the entire time because she’s fussy about clothing right now, but Tom and I just smiled through it.  And it’s ok to not look at the camera!  The photos where we’re not looking at the camera always turn out to be some of my favorites.
  • Let the kids be kids.  Let the run a circle around mom and dad- it makes for a fun event and a beautiful photo.  Throw leaves if you need to, and don’t be afraid to break out a silly voice or say something crazy that you know will make them crack a smile.
  • Bring a blanket to change the poses up a bit and give them a break from standing.
  • Don’t be afraid to move.  Walk around, change poses, show some fluidity.  Look at your kids or spouse and laugh (and tell your kids to do the same), even if nothing funny is happening.  You’ll get more natural smiles that way!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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