Tips For Family Photo Prep

by Courtney El-Ghoul

So the time for family photos has come around, again, and again – things are not going exactly as planned. For instance – I have been tracking the weather forecast for weeks. Everything was looking good – sunny, not too cold, and no real wind predicted. Perfect! YEAH, RIGHT. Ha. Of course – now – just days before the shoot – the weather forecast is showing that it will be significantly colder and windier than I have been planning for… Messing with my outfits!? All things considered – this is not a big deal. But, as I sit here on Amazon, buying backup tights, in preparation for our family photo shoot this weekend – It occurred to me… I wish someone had given me a rundown of how chaotic this whole family picture situation could be! So, that is what I am going to do. Share with you a few bits of wisdom I have acquired in the last four years of getting family photos taken – with twins. 

Our First shoot at our previous home

Prepping for Family Photos

First – It doesn’t matter how laid back you are – professional family photo shoots are no joke! They take a lot of preparation. Although I have a few under my belt, I still learn something that I could do better each time. I figured with the Holidays coming maybe some of you have photoshoots planned, after all – ’tis the season for Christmas Cards, and photographed cuteness overload.

 I would love to share my experiences, and some tips I have learned along the way.

My Tips For Family Photos

1.) Home is where the heart is! If you can take your photos at home, DO IT!  You just need one place with good light to take the photos. Maybe that means clearing and tidying the room with the most windows, or raking the backyard, or giving the front porch a good scrub…  We learned the hard way that trying to gather ourselves plus two little humans to an offsite location, is no bueno. We made the mistake once, and will NEVER make it again. Whatever extra work it might be in advance, is 1000% worth it.  Seriously, not having to leave the house is so much better! Game changer, and the number one rule, for sure.

2.) Outfit planning- Plan in advance! As much as you can at least. Weather can always change things, but the stress of not having everyone’s outfits figured out is something I do not want to deal with. Typically I will just pick a color scheme that makes sense for the season, and I base all of our outfits off of those colors. That way I don’t have to stress about it being too matchy-matchy, but I know we will match. You want to make sure the colors have a nice flow, not that they are all the same. It’s not the time to be too bold! I am all about the trends, but I try not to let myself go too far out of my comfort zone with my outfit. I play it safe more often than not. I’m terrified of looking back on these and thinking “WHAT ARE WE WEARING?!” You know the ones I’m talking about …. denim on denim… everyone in leather jackets… For family photos, I do dress the girls alike. I may change their shoes or hair accessory, but for the most part, they match. It’s the only time I REALLY  take advantage of the cuteness of the twin piecer. I also plan a few layers/accessories for the girls. Maybe a jacket or a cute hat, so we have a variety of looks. 

3.) Okay, don’t judge me on this one! I have done it both ways & I gotta say…. if you can get your makeup/hair done professionally it’s so much better. The stress alone of scrambling around in the morning trying to get everything done before the photographer gets there is not worth the hassle for me to try and do it myself. I am fortunate that my hairdresser @jammiesuebeauty (follow her on Instagram!). I is also a dear friend, so she doesn’t mind coming to my house on the morning of a shoot to help me. Judge me if you want, but enlisting a glam squad is… the jam, hands down. Not to mention, unless you are a makeup artist – there is no way you are going to do a better job. You are paying for the photos to be good, which means you will see the makeup.  Might as well have professional makeup in your professional photos, it will look so much better

This is one of my favorites! Finally felt like I got everything right:)

4.) Practice some poses beforehand. Maybe you have a favorite side, you’ve got a body part that you are insecure about, or you’ve got a paint-stained hand that you need to hide. You can make it fun with the kids – getting them to think its FUN to stand and smile for the camera – will save you a TON of headache on the day of photos. So do a few practice shots with the kids – just set the timer on your phone – use a tripod  or just prop it up with a few books. This way when the photographer is ready to go you are warmed up and have some positions in mind.

5.) Bribe your kids! Hey – We all do it – it’s time to start being honest about it, haha. Skittles or Ice Cream usually do the trick in our house. You can make a few tiny piles of whatever candies or snacks your kids like and do tiny bribes. “Ok – let’s do a few pictures outside and then you can have two skittles.” So on – until you are almost done. Then have a big treat for the end. “Let’s have fun with these last few photos so we can go out for ice cream in our fancy clothes!!”  It’s a win-win for everyone.

6.) Lastly, Relax – this is supposed to be fun. Khalil always tells me “Courtney, we only need one. Just one good one, that’s all we need.”  It always gives me a good laugh and takes the edge off. Because he is TOTALLY right. It only takes one good one, and then you’re done!

Sneak Peak from this years shoot, coming soon!

What about you guys? What works for you when planning family photos?



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