sharing the photos katie rain took of our family in central park a few weeks ago! so many in this batch that i really love, because she captured all seven of us – pulling the faces and the sass and the rarely ever holding still – perfectly. it’s such a big feat to take on – taking photos with this many people (and littles) to be in the frame. with all the eyes open and someone not running out of the shot! lol. bless you, katie for being so brave. while we take pictures a lot over here in our family, family photos with an actual photographer can feel entirely different, which is why we do this only about once a year. it’s pretty different from when we take our own camera out, since we aren’t usually trying to get images with everyone in the photo and so we can capture something more candid and take our time, too.
these tips aren’t tried and true every time, but a few things that i’ve noticed can help when you’re trying to take family photos and only get so much time…
- MEET UP A FEW MINUTES BEFOREHAND SO EVERYONE GETS COMFORTABLE WITHOUT THE CAMERA FIRST. if there’s a way to meet up with the photographer even just ten minutes before your session so you and your kids can chat and play and get to know them a bit, i think it helps everyone feel more friendly and natural and themselves so no one feels like such a stranger. i know this is a tough one if you only have a 30 minute session, but ask if they’d be willing to meet for a few moments first without any camera in sight. it does make a big difference. (for us, katie has taken our family photos every year since conrad was a baby! she is also a mom herself and really great at engaging with my kids right away asking them questions and being silly when we see her, and i know this goes a long way with my older ones especially.)
- PLAN AN ACTIVITY. while i myself love a photo of all of us standing and looking at the camera (and i always beg all of my family to indulge me in this even though no one wants to – thanks, fam!), i have learned over the years that when we have an activity planned, or something to engage the kiddos with when doing family photos (like a favorite playground, or even bubbles! or a game of some sort…) everyone is happy to be playing and doing their thing, and that is usually when the best smiles come out because everyone is truly enjoying themselves.
- FOLLOW IT WITH A FUN TRADITION (IE, TREAT OR ACTIVITY). since we only take photos with a photographer about once a year, we’ve tried to follow it up with a fun tradition shortly after that the kids choose beforehand. (is this also known as a bribe?! haha.) we get nutella crepes right after the photo session ends, and it’s a nice way to celebrate together (and a fun thing to look forward to during the session.)
- HAVE A SNACK ON HAND DURING THE SESSION! both the baby girls were getting fussy in the middle of our time together taking photos and as i was holding them and feeling super confused as to why (they weren’t scheduled to fall asleep and nap for about another hour), katie was like “let’s get them a snack” and i was like, “DUH!” so we grabbed some snacks in the stroller and after chowing down for a few minutes they were good again!
- GO THROUGH YOUR FAVORITE FAMILY PHOTOS TOGETHER W/ YOUR FAMILY BEFORE YOUR SHOOT. sometimes just explaining to your family members how much it means to you to have a photo of everyone together framed on the wall can help them understand why you’re doing it and be excited about it, too. seeing photos when so-and-so was a baby, or in-my-tummy, or so-and-so being thrown into the sky by papa — it helps put into perspective why we’re taking photos again now. at the start of our photos on this day with katie, when my older kids were running off on the rocks to play and we hadn’t taken any photos yet (lol! we were off to an amazing start!), i had to kneel beside them and share with them that i wanted a photo with papa in the frame (since he takes so many of the photos), and them, and madalena and beatrice, too! so we could add it to our gallery wall and always remember this time – when samson had one tooth missing and conrad right before kindergarten began and eleanor with her tall long legs! “give me three minutes, kids!” and with that, they very kindly gave me two (maybe one?!) before they were off again on the rocks playing. ;)
- FIRST THINGS FIRST, WHEN EVERYONE IS FRESH! i believe in taking photos first thing in the morning right after breakfast when everyone is fresh and fed and doing well bright and early. this isn’t always ideal, but chances are if you go out really early, you will also have the location to yourself (no one was at this playground yet at 8am on a weekend!) and also no one in my family was terribly cranky yet either (well, to be debated.) sometimes this means you may get tricky lighting (the best light is usually in the late afternoon before sun down) but no one in my family is great at that hour. thank you to katie for dealing with the harsh light in the park. i’d rather have weird light and happy faces than the other way around.
- LOWER YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS. i have to remind myself of this every single time. with seven of us, chances are good that there is at least one who isn’t feeling it at one given moment or other. but then we get the photos back, the ones i love the most are where the crazy was captured, the kids doing their own thing, no one is really looking at the camera and smiling, but this is us. right now. and honestly, it’s actually perfect.
thank you to katie rain for taking these images! and to josh and my kiddos for being good sports!
good luck to everyone embarking on family photos this fall with the holidays christmas card season around the corner! thank you again to katie rain for these images i will hold dear for years to come.