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7 Tips for Perfect Family Photos!

I absolutely love the results of perfect family photos I can frame or print to canvas and document our family’s growth over the years. But sometimes, the process of getting to those amazing pictures can be a struggle, whether you have little ones that are restless or middles that just want to make goofy or grouchy faces, or even teens that are ready to roll their eyes and complain about the process. These simple tips can make a big impact on helping the whole photography session go smoother and help your end result be something memorable, beautiful, and not painful to look back on remembering all the struggle it was to get your perfect family photos!

My family received a complimentary photo session and image release from Melissa Donaldson Photography in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Capturing your family with perfect family photos is every mom's dream. But that one goofy pair of shoes or forced smile can ruin the shoot. Our secrets help you get those perfect photography shoot moments that are worthy to frame and print to canvs!


7 Tips for Perfect Family Photos

Get Outdoors – A studio can’t compare to the gorgeous outcome pictures outdoors will create. You’ll all feel more natural and comfortable just interacting together as a family, and it will show in the pictures. In the end, you’ll also have pictures that capture a piece of the area you live, too, which will help preserve that time in your life to look back on.

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Time of Day Matters – For the best pictures, you want a lot of natural daylight, without the harsh shadows. Pick a bright, sunny day and aim for taking pictures right before sunset when the sun won’t be in your eyes to cause squinting or directly overhead to cause those deep shadows.

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Don’t match, Coordinate – It’s no longer the 80’s or 90’s where families matched to a T. Instead, pick a couple of colors and mix and match styles among your crew to coordinate your look but still express personality and unique styles of your family members.

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Be Yourself – Some of my favorite moments captures during family photo shoots are always those times when the kids break away and just be kids! They show off their little personalities and the pictures always turn out amazing because there are no forced smiles and you really get to see a piece of them captured in time.

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A Little Bribe (for after!) – I like to be very upfront with my children before the photo session begins. I pulled each of my boys aside and made a deal with them that if they would listen to our photographer and not goof off during the session we’d be done quicker and I would make a trade with them! They all LOVED the proposition of getting some say on a reward they could earn by helping out. Skip the mid-session bribes like snacks and goodies and instead have something waiting in the car for as soon as you’re done to thank your crew for their big smiles!

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Let the Kids Have a Say – Another important piece is letting the kids help plan for your perfect family photos! They’ll love rummaging through their drawers to help you pick out something that will work great for the photos and they will feel comfortable in. I have one kid that always loves to be the stinker in the photo. I’m certain he’s just trying to find a way to grab attention. So this time around, I let him be the one stand out outfit of our session, while still coordinating, and he was so excited to get to wear cool shorts while the rest of us would be in jeans.

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Let Your Photographer Focus on the Kids – Maybe the biggest way we ruin our own photo sessions is spending all our energy focusing on making certain the kids look perfect. Instead of trying to direct the kids faces towards the camera and smiles to be perfect, let the photographer do what she does best! If you focus yourself on being ready for that perfect shot, your photographer will be able to capture those moments when the kids are looking at the camera and perfectly posed – without mom or dad ruining that perfect shot by talking mid-click to get the little one’s attention.

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All of these gorgeous photos of my family where taken by Melissa Donaldson Photography. She works in and around Gilbert, Arizona, and has had the opportunity to service her clients that seek her out from all over the country including northern Arizona and Texas! It’s no surprise to hear that families fall in love with her work, and her!

Melissa was a dream to work with. She is friendly and did a great job of helping my whole (large) crew feel comfortable around her and ready to smile big. The kids took coaxing, but she didn’t back down from the challenge, even with our oldest suddenly not feeling good as soon as we arrived for our shoot.

I was so happy to find a Family Prep Guide she sent along before our family shoot which really did answer a lot of the questions I tend to have prior to getting our family pictures taken. Such as, what should we wear, how to get my kids to smile big for the camera, and other tips that had us ready for our family pictures to be taken.

With fall approaching, it’s the perfect time to book your own family photo session. I love getting family pictures taken in the fall as it counts as all my boys going back to school photos we like to update yearly as well as our family pictures that we’ll have ready for holiday greeting cards! I also use it as an excuse to update my picture frames and add a new canvas print or two in our home.


You can book Melissa Donaldson Photography during her fall mini session special that includes a 30-minute shoot, plenty of time to capture tons of pictures along with 10 edited images with a print release that you can print and share as many of your pictures as you need.

LIz Mays

Wednesday 17th of August 2016

I'm kinda loving the idea of the outdoor shots. Yours turned out so good!

Jamela P

Wednesday 17th of August 2016

I am a newer photographer buy lighting is everything! It can pretty much make or break your photo.


Wednesday 17th of August 2016

These are BEAUTIFUL photos. This is also a HUGE reminder that I need to get updated photos with my daughter and these are perfect tips!

Kelly Hutchinson

Wednesday 17th of August 2016

What great tips! I really need to get updated family photos. I love the photo of you and your husband together!


Wednesday 17th of August 2016

I love these ideas. The biggest issue we have with family photos is my son never wants to cooperate. He always looks so gloom or wants to cry. But any other time he's all about taking photos on the spur of the moment. Maybe we should just let him be a kid and make the photos work around that.

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