101 Family Picture Tips & Ideas

Family Photo ideas

It happens about this time every year. The anxiety. The stress. The dread. Yep – it’s time for family pictures. The pressure’s on for every woman to wrangle the kids and hubby together into trendy, coordinating (but not too matchy) outfits – in an attempt to capture (ever elusive) natural smiles for a “picture perfect” holiday card.What’s a girl to do? Family pictures can seem a bit daunting, but being prepared with a some family picture ideas can help make the process a whole lot smoother, where do you start?

Family Picture Ideas

Well, never you fear – the Divas are here!  And, you are gonna LOVE us after this post!  Just go ahead and pin it right now – trust me on this. We’ve racked our brains and searched all over Pinterest and Blog Land, and gathered over one hundred of the best tips and ideas for this year’s family photos.  Yep, just for you, we’ve compiled…

“The Ultimate Family Picture Planning Guide”

From choosing your photographer, location, props, poses, and clothes… all the way to tips for looking good in front of the camera and getting your kids (and spouse) to cooperate – we’ve got you covered!

And if that isn’t enough, to keep you super organized and ahead of the game, we’ve even hooked you up with a…

FREE “Family Picture Planner” Printable

Isn’t this amazing!? Carisa from Messes to Memories designed this gorgeous printable to help you plan ahead and make your picture day a success! Scroll to the bottom of this post to grab your planner.

Family Picture Planner

So say goodbye to all of that stress.  This year’s pictures are gonna be a breeze.  We’ve done most of the work for you.  Just sit back, relax, and prepare for some serious photo inspiration…

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. To learn more about ’em, click here.

Family Photo Ideas – The Photographer

Consider these tips when choosing and working with a photographer for your family photos…

1.  Ask for recommendations!

2.  Look at their portfolio/website.  Usually, what you see is what you get.

3.  Check their work to see if they are used to working with kids, a large group, etc.

4.  You don’t have to pick the most expensive photographer in town, but remember that this is an investment of your memories.  And I’ve never heard anyone say, “I wish I would have spent the least amount of money possible on our photos.”

5.  Schedule in advance!  Talented photographers usually fill up fast in the fall.  And, you may have to reschedule if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

6.  Know what you want and communicate it to your photographer ahead of time.  A discussion about the style, location, props, and poses you’re planning on can work wonders to get you on the same page.

7.  Rely on your photographer for suggestions, and value their opinion.  While you don’t want to be completely at their mercy – they are, after all, the professional.

Family Photo Ideas – The Location

You’re not restricted to a portrait studio these days!  Outdoor photography offers natural lighting for beautiful pictures and endless options.  Check out these tips to narrow them down…

8.  Drive around and pay attention to different areas near you that would make beautiful and creative backgrounds for your family pictures.

9.  Pick a location that matches your family’s personality.  You’ll want these pictures to reflect this time in your lives.  So, while railroad tracks can look cool, ask yourself, “Would our family really spend time here?”

10.  Before getting too attached to a location, run it by your photographer. They should know if there are any issues with your choice (such as a required permit or difficult lighting), or if there are better choices available.

11.  Browse family pictures online for location inspiration.  (Our “Family Picture Ideas” Pinterest Board is full of ideas!)

Here are some of our favorite locations for family pictures:

Family Photo Ideas for Location

Sources: {A} Drew B Photography {B} Amy Gray Photography {C} Christine Naomi Photography {D} Christine Naomi Photography  {E} DH Design Photography {F} A Day to Adore Photography {G} Michael Kormos Photography {H} Michael Kormos Photography {I} A Day to Adore Photography {J} Iliasis Muniz Photography

Prop Ideas for Family Pictures

The difference between a good picture and a great picture is in the details, so don’t forget to add in some fun props for that little something extra…

12.  Sarah Wert of Modern Kids Photography suggests including items from the natural environment in family photos.  “Keeping the props as minimal and realistic as possible helps keep the focus on the connection between the family.”  So try a bouquet of wild flowers or a picnic blanket.

13.  Incorporate items that have meaning to your family to really personalize the picture.  Photographer Wendy Laurel recommends using props to highlight your family’s hobbies.  So if you love biking together, why not throw in a bike or two?

14.  Props such as a couch, chairs, stools, or a ladder can help add different posing options to the same location.

15.  Bringing along your child’s favorite toy or blanket will not only capture the special memory in the photograph, but will also help keep your child happy and cooperative.

16.  Props such as chalkboards, signs, wooden letters, or scrabble tiles can help you spell out and convey a specific message.

17.  Choose props that will help your family interact for natural, candid photos.  So bring along a book to read to the baby, a game to lay out and play with the kids, or a picnic to enjoy together.

18.  When choosing props, consider the color of your clothing and location background as well.  You may want to choose neutral props that will go with anything, or props with a pop of color for added interest.

Here are some of our favorite props…

Family Photo Ideas for Props

Sources: {A} Simplicity Photography {B} A Day to Adore Photography {C} Drew B Photography {D} Pinkletoes {E} Simplicity Photography {F} Pinkletoes {G} Drew B Photography {H} Iliasis Muniz Photography

Prop Ideas for Family Pictures

Sources: {I} Lisa Holloway Photography {J} Drew B Photography {K} Emily Lucarz Photography {L} ME Photo Design {M} Michael Kormos Photography {N} Drew B Photography {O} Lisa Holloway Photography {P} Reminisce Studio

Family Picture Pose Ideas

While your photographer is sure to have suggestions and guidance on posing, knowing a couple of pose ideas beforehand that you absolutely LOVE can help you get just the picture you’re looking for.  Here are some of our favorite family picture posing ideas…

Family Picture Pose Ideas

19.  Lie Down – Sources: {A} Pinkletoes {B} A Day to Adore Photography {C} Iliasis Muniz Photography {D} Christie Hobson Photography

20.  Stand Up Tall – Sources: {A} Michael Kormos Photography {B} Sophie Crew Photography {C} Lisa Holloway Photography {D} Christine Naomi Photography {E} Chelsea Lee Photography {F} Michael Kormos Photography

Fun Pose Ideas for Family Photos

21.  Just Act Natural – Sources: {A} Iliasis Muniz Photography {B} Drew B Photography {C} Drew B Photography {D} Emily Lucarz Photography

22.  Play It Up – Sources: {A} Drew B Photography {B} Sophie Crew Photography {C} Emily Lucarz Photography {D} Christie Hobson Photography

Pose Ideas for Family Pictures

23. Hold Hands – Sources: {A} Sophie Crew Photography {B} Pinkletoes {C} Simplicity Photography {D} Drew B Photography

24. Hug It Out – Sources: {A} Drew B Photography {B} Simplicity Photography {C} Simplicity Photography {D} Emily Lucarz Photography {E} Lisa Holloway Photography

Pose Ideas for Fun Family Pictures

25.  Pucker Up! – Sources: {A} Christie Hobson Photography {B} Iliasis Muniz Photography {C} A Day to Adore Photography {D} Christine Naomi Photography {E} Michael Kormos Photography {F} Emily Lucarz Photography

26.  Focus on the Kids OR Focus on the Parents – Sources: {A} Sophie Crew Photography {B} Michael Kormos Photography {C} Pinkletoes {D} Christie Hobson Photography

Picture Pose Ideas for Families

27.  Get in Close – Sources: {A} Christie Hobson Photography {B} Chelsea Lee Photography {C} Christine Naomi Photography {D} Drew B Photography

28.  Silhouette – Sources: {A} Amy Gray Photography {B} Amy Gray Photography

Family Picture Ideas - Silly Poses

29.  Act Silly – Sources: {A} Emily Lucarz Photography {B} Julie Harris Photography {C} Julie Harris Photography {D} Christine Naomi Photography

30.  Jump! – Sources: {A} Jill Carmel Photography {B} Aaron Blumenshine

What to Wear for Family Photos

Don’t know what to wear for family pictures?  Check out these tips for endless outfit and color inspiration…

31.  Coordinate the style and color of your clothing with your location in mind.

32.  When choosing a color palette, consider what will go well with the colors of your home.  After all, most people plan to hang the pictures up!

33.  Try to avoid clothing that is super seasonal.  Unless you’re planning on using them only for Christmas cards, red and green scarfs may not be the best choice.  Pick a style, color, and location that you don’t mind displaying in your home year-round.

34.  Don’t be afraid of color and pattern.  While you may not want everyone to wear a bold color or a busy pattern, a pop or two of color and design adds interest to the picture.  Check out some great examples at Click it Up a Notch and Kristen Duke photography.

35.  Layer!  Adding layers to your outfit not only adds texture to the picture, but also allows you to shed layers later on for different looks in different pictures.

36.  For a photo that stands the test of time, opt for clothes that are classic rather than super trendy.

37.  While a little bit of pattern can be a good thing, it’s best to avoid clothing with large graphics and logos.

38.  Gone are the days of identical blue jeans and white shirts!  Instead of matching colors, coordinate them.  Stick to a color palette, but don’t feel like you have to match color values exactly.

39.  For color palette inspiration, try these online tools:  Design Seeds, Big Huge Labs, CSS Drive, and DeGrave.

40.  For more outfit inspiration for your next family picture, do a simple Image Search on Google for “What to Wear Photography” and you will get more outfits and color combinations than you know what to do with!

Here are just a few of our favorite outfit ideas for family pictures!

What to Wear for Family Photos

Sources: These guides were all put together by Corina Nielson Photography and Design. Be sure to check those out for color and style inspiration!

How to Look Good in Family Pictures

And now the part we’ve all been waiting for … how to look good in front of the camera.  Who doesn’t want that?!

41.  For a slimmer appearing waistline, hp suggests angling your body toward the camera instead of facing it square on.

42. If you put weight on your back leg, you’ll feel more comfortable and look natural instead of awkward.

43.  To look thinner, leave space between your arms and your body to show your waistline.

44.  Remember to push your shoulders back and don’t slouch.  (After 10 shots, we usually forget to sit or stand straight…)

45.  Avoid looking down to prevent a double chin, says Cosmopolitan.

46.  Ask your photographer to shoot straight on or from above.  They are much more flattering angles than from below.

47.  To avoid the totem pole look, bend whatever can bend.

48.  Don’t leave your arms hanging straight down. Try  touching the person next to you or resting your hand on a nearby object.

49.  Try look places other than directly at the camera for a more natural look.  Maybe look off to the side or past the photographer into the distance.

50.  Schedule your shoot at the “golden hour” near sunrise and sunset.

51.  If you’re worried about wrinkles, shoot with the light in front of you. (Side lightening emphasizes wrinkles, according to Stylist.)

52.  You can minimize a big nose by tilting your head just slightly upward.

53.  Self-conscious of big ears? Position yourself at an angle so only one ear is showing.

54.  To avoid shine, use LOTS of powder on your face and neck.

55.  For small eyes, false eye lashes can be a life saver!  (Check Kiirsten’s post for a fabulous how-to)

56.  Check your makeup with a camera, not a mirror.  Remember, you need to apply more than usual for it to show in pictures!  (Check Tara’s post for your guide to a flawless face)

Getting the Kiddos to Cooperate for Family Pictures

This can be one of the most stressful parts of family pictures!  But with a little planning, and these quick tips, you’ll be prepared…

57.  When you first tell them about your family picture plans, act excited like it’s going to be SO much fun!  Often attitude is contagious.

58.  Involve the kids in the process from the beginning!  If they get to help pick what they’re going to wear, and what props they can bring, they’ll feel included and be more likely to cooperate.

59.  Allow plenty of time!  It’s hard to be patient and positive when you’re rushed.

60.  Bring along an “entertainer” to stand behind or beside the photographer to get the baby or little ones to look and smile.

61.  Simple Mom recommends planning the shoot for when your kids are the happiest, not just the time that is the most convenient.   Work your appointment around the kids’ routines.

62. Give the kids breaks in between shots to stretch, run, and play.

63.  Even better- let them play during the pictures!  You’ll get great candid shots and capture your little ones the way they really are.

64.  Play peek-a-boo, tickle, and throw the baby into the air for real, genuine smiles.

65.  Bring water and snacks to avoid mid-shoot meltdowns.

66.  Use fun props like suckers, toys, and bubbles to keep them happy.

67.  Promise them a reward when the shoot is over.  I’m so not above bribing. 😉

68.  Beth from Home Stories A 2 Z suggested using a code word (like “ice cream”) to remind them of the reward throughout the shoot.  Genius!

Getting Your Spouse On Board with Family Pictures

Sometimes the kids aren’t the only ones that drag their heels for family pictures.  Here are some helpful hint to get your spouse on board…

69.  Plan ahead so that he knows it’s coming and has time to mentally prepare for it.  No one likes being surprised with something they don’t love.

70.  Budget for it to avoid the money stress.

71.  Let her know WHY it’s important to you.  If she knows it’s about preserving memories for you, and not just for a cute Christmas card, she’s more likely to value it too.

72.  Give him a say in it!  Most people don’t like to be told what to wear and how to sit and stand and when to do it.  So ask for his opinion and value it.  (Maybe you could even make a little shopping date and pick out new outfits together.)

73.  Compromise!  Find out what is most important to each of you and make it happen.

74.  If she absolutely hates pictures, look together to find poses that she’s okay with.  Usually pictures where the kids are the focus are the best for that.

75.  Just like the kids – bribe!  Oops, I mean … reward!  If he’s willing to do this just for you, then let him know you appreciate it.

Ordering Family Photos

So you followed all of these wonderful tips and had a fabulous shoot…  Now what?

76.  Don’t forget to order prints!  So many people just get the CD, and then it ends up lost in a drawer when they could have a gorgeous print on the living room wall instead.  Remember that sometimes, less is more.

77.  Pictures can get pricey.  Remember, you’re not just buying pictures, you’re preserving memories.

78.  Plan ahead and consider how and where you’re going to be displaying your pictures in your home.  It makes ordering so much easier.

79.  If you plan on making a collage or wall gallery out of your pictures, be sure to ask your photographer for their input.  They have lots of ideas about which pictures would look well grouped together, and can often help you plan it all out.

 Displaying Family Pictures

Looking for ways to display those fabulous family pictures?  Look no further…

{PS – crushing on these babies! What a gorgeous and easy way to display family photos without a ton of work!}

Family Wall Art Display Ideas

80.  Want to make a little wall gallery of your pictures?  Ann Beck Photography has some great layout inspiration!

81.  How about a collage along the stairs? Here is an amazing tutorial on how to create a gallery wall along the staircase from Dear Lillie!

 82.  And, if you’re looking for the easiest way to hang that wall gallery, Pretty Providence shares how to make the PERFECT gallery wall without any nail holes.

83.  Running out of wall space?  Don’t forget that empty wall at the end of the hallway!

84.  Check out Laura’s Wall Art Wednesday for some inspiration.  The 9 picture grid using glass frames from IKEA is my favorite; easy and versatile. This one is from Charla Anne Photography. Gorgeous!!

85.  Check out HowDoesShe’s thrifty tutorial that turns Dollar Store frames into an adorable work of art.

86.  Have lots of pictures and no frames?  Look how the girls at Bits Of Everything used Mod Podge and a board to make a fabulous statement for under $20.

87.  I’m loving these different photo booth display strips from Kathleen at Grosgrain Fabulous and The Tremaynes!  What a fun way to display family pictures.

Gallery Wall Display Ideas

88. Go big and display your pictures in a gorgeous canvas gallery that covers a whole wall! This would be beautiful in an office space or living area!

89.  Check out how A Girl and Her Glue Gun displays family photos in her home – this giant cut out frame filled with pictures is such a gorgeous centerpiece!

90.  For a fun look, try incorporating lots of different shapes and colors like this display using Organic Bloom Frames.

91.  I love how an old window frame can be repurposed to display a beautiful photo.  Milk and Honey Design

 has a beautiful example.

92.  Try adding a favorite quote or motto to your family photo wall. Becky Higgin’s blog has a perfect example.

93.  Black and White Gallery Wall – Here’s another display I LOVE that is black and white! I love how clean and simple it is! But it captures and displays memorable moments!

A Few More Family Photo Ideas

94.  You don’t HAVE to do an elaborate photo shoot.  Keep it simple if you want.  Even if it’s just a quick 10-minutes session that your neighbor took in your backyard, make sure you’re capturing these family memories.

95.  Don’t sweat the small stuff!  In 10 years, you’re not going to care that Johnny was playing with the grass instead of striking the perfect pose you wanted him to in your family picture.  You’ll just be glad you caught him as he was – little.

96. Let loose and have fun!  If you let “mom mode” or “dad mode” take over, and you’re constantly snapping “don’t touch that,” “no!” “hold still” …  then it’s going to be hard to get sincere smiles out of everyone.  Including you.  😉

97.  Family pictures don’t have to break the bank.  Minimize costs by planning around what you already have.  And, remember that you’re not trying to get pictures of clothes, just the people you love in them.

98.  Get as creative as you want and make these family pictures your own.  Who says you have to be traditional?

99.  Remember the best family photos don’t show “picture perfect” smiles and poses.  The best family photos shows emotion and affection between family members.  That takes a lot of pressure off.  Love is all you need. ?

100.  Go with the flow!  No matter how much you prepare and plan, you never know what is going to happen.  The more flexible you are, the better results you’ll have.  (And the happier everyone will be.)

101.  Have a sense of humor.  Laughing makes almost any problem better. (And it looks better in pictures than crying or yelling.)  Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.  It’s not about the pretty card, or the perfect family picture, it’s about the memories.

So… how can you go wrong?  Worst case scenario is that no one cooperates.  Maybe you don’t even have one picture where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling.  Maybe the baby’s even crying.  But at the end of it all, you still have captured memories of the ones that you love most.  The way that they are now.  You still have managed to freeze and save a moment in time.  And one day – you will cherish that family picture.

About the Author: Becca

Besides my hilariously witty husband, I love a good book, sappy songs, old black-and-white movies, cute crafts, and all things chocolate. I have four (seriously adorable) little kiddos at home and they definitely keep life at home FUN!

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Recent Comments

123 Responses to 101 Family Picture Tips & Ideas

  1. Hi! I really like the family picture divided into 4 posters on #93. Do you know how I can do that? Is there a specific website? We just had our family pictures done and we have a pose similar to this one.


  2. Please give me some cute ideas and poses for 5th generation pictures. We have had several different ones taken, but just haven’t like them very much. Would love yo get one perfect one done before anything happens to one of us! My Nanny just turned 90!

  3. Love the post and will be using some of those ideas in the future. Right now I’m focussed on our 10th Christmas photo as a family. Way back when I decided for a bit of fun we woudl theme it on the “12 days of Christmas”, so we’ve had partridges and pear trees, turtle doves, golden right, swans-a-swimming etc. Totally stuck, though, on pipers piping. There’s 4 of us – Mum, dad and 2 sons, 7 and 10. I suppose we just all hold flutes / recorders / pan pipes? (Oh, there’s an idea – all 4 of us blowing an enormous pan pipe!)

    I welcome any other brilliant ideas on capturing that theme.

    1. Oh what a FUN idea!!! I love the idea of the 4 of you blowing an enormous pan pipe!!! You should email us a picture of your Christmas photo when it’s done! We’d love to see it.

  4. Wow, I happen to be a professional photographer and your tips are dead on. Thank you for sharing them. I try to educate my clients what to do, I should just have them read this. Lol. I can tell you value photography and the investment they require, thank you. 🙂