Isn't it amazing how family pictures seem to bring stress and tension right to the surface? Here are 7 simple things you can do to make taking family photos a positive experience for everyone involved.
1. Completely choose your family's clothes a week or two early!
I'm totally guilty of this. One year I didn't choose our outfits until picture day! I was still shopping for a perfect shirt just hours before our appointment, and then the shirt didn't fit him anyway. My indecisiveness caused me and everyone else stress. Don't do this to yourself!
Choose or buy clothes with plenty of time to spare (aka days, if not a week or two!) You'll have time to work out all the details and make sure you're happy with everyone's outfits.
2. Get those clothes, accessories, and shoes ready at least 3 days in advance.
No more doing laundry the morning of your pictures! Wash, dry, and press everything a few days in advance.
It's no fun to realize that all the white undershirts are dirty or there are no dark socks to wear with dark pants. All this causes stress, and if Mom is stressed, you better believe that will rub off on everyone involved.
Clean everything and then hang it in the closet all together so there is no running around like crazy right before. It's fairly likely you have enough clothes that these don't need to be in your regular rotation for a few days. Don't forget to pick out your accessories or jewelry!
Make sure you find all the kid shoes (and their mates!) and store those together as well. Shoes seem to disappear at the most inconvenient times, so setting them aside a day or two before is worth it.
3. Feed everyone beforehand.
Family pictures often happen around dinner time because that's when the sun is setting. There is the temptation to just say "let's get these done and then we'll eat," but don't do it! Everyone will have a better mood if they are well fed.
Feed everyone, including yourself, before you attempt to take family pictures. A hefty snack will do if you truly have dinner plans afterward, but make it something substantial and not full of sugar. It will make a world of difference!
(Also, have your kids eat before you put them in cute clean clothes. Just saying.)
4. Give yourself some padding to get ready.
Sure, on a normal day you can usually get ready in 30 minutes flat. But you're going to be extra careful on picture day and it will probably take you longer than usual to do your hair and makeup.
As a mom, give yourself time to feel good about how you look because if you don't feel good then you will never be happy with the overall picture.
Plan in that extra time, preferably not at the same time everyone else is getting ready.
5. And give yourself some more padding for getting out the door.
Hopefully everything is prepared if you followed the steps above, but things always seem to happen when it's important for you to get out the door.
Know where you're going and how long it will take to get there, and then set your departure time even earlier.
Being late will frustrate you as well as your photographer, who probably planned things according to the available light. Pad in enough time that you don't feel the need to drive aggressively to get there.
6. Be patient. Your mood matters.
I don't know why tension runs so high during family pictures, but I am well aware of the phenomenon. My family is no exception!
To combat this, you have to make a conscious effort to be positive and upbeat. Your kids will pick up on your mode, whether it's happy & upbeat or negative & grudging.
If you're having fun (or not!), it will show in your pictures.
Whatever happens, try to remember that your mood matters, and will absolutely influence your family.
7. Manage your expectations.
In an ideal picture-taking world, the kids would be angels - following every instruction and staring at the camera with grins on their faces. I think we logically know this won't be the case, but for some reason, we ignore that knowledge and think that this time they'll be well-behaved!
Setting the expectation bar so high means you're going to be let down when, inevitably, things aren't perfect.
So manage your expectations! Consider the ages and stages of your kids, and recognize that they are going to be silly, play in the dirt, and possibly even be stubborn about giving that sweet smile.
Of course, you might be pleasantly surprised, but be reasonable. There will be ups and downs within that 90-minute session. Kids will be kids, and that's what you're trying to capture here!
Your photographer will do their best to get that one Christmas card shot to hang over the mantle, but some of the sweetest pictures show what life is really like in your family right now.
Trust your photographer, and recognize that you'll be glad you captured this stage.
Family picture day doesn't have to have tension or stress surrounding it. Use these tips to set yourself up for a positive experience, and your pictures will turn out great!
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