Tips for Family Photos From The Pros

Fall is a really popular time for scheduling time to have your family photos taken – either for holiday cards or just updated images of the family for the coming year. We had a few questions around the subject, and thought you might too, so we chatted with two photographers, Erin Konrath and Jessica Scott, for their #1 tips for family photos.

Tips Family Photos | Mac & Mia Blog | Little boy in a crib smiling.
Erin Konrath Photography

Location and light are both key, and the more natural the setting the better.

Erin: “I’m primarily an in-home lifestyle photographer. I’m a huge proponent of photographing a family within their own surroundings because I think it’s very meaningful. I also tell all my clients that natural light is super important. The photo might seem as if it’s in a strange place, but if the light is good, the picture will be beautiful.”

Jessica: “Great photos start with great light, so that is always my first priority. If a family prefers to do photos indoors, I always suggest their home first if it has great natural light. Outdoor locations can also be super fun because it allows kiddos (especially active ones!) to play and run which can also make for some super cute images. I’m all about capturing the fun personalities of a family, so whichever location will bring that out the most, that’s where I suggest the photos be taken.”

Tips Family Photos | Mac & Mia Blog | Little girl laying on a bed in bedroom with a teddy bear.
Erin Konrath Photography
Tips Family Photos | Mac & Mia Blog | Family sitting on bed reading books. | Jessica Scott Photography
Jessica Scott Photography

Keep it simple—no need for props.

Erin: “I think about what is meaningful and true to the family. I think lovies are great because they are usually very special to the children. An heirloom afghan to sit is sentimental and will mean something special to the family. For kids, bubbles are interactive and fun. I just really like to keep the photos as meaningful and organic as possible, so try to avoid really trendy props.”

Jessica: “I personally prefer to capture families interacting with one another, so I don’t use props in my photos. I find that they take away from the family and these photos are all about them, after all! The only thing I usually suggest is a blanket of some sort if the session is outdoors so they can be sitting in some photos.”

Tips Family Photos | Mac & Mia Blog | Erin Konrath Photography
Erin Konrath Photography
Tips Family Photos | Mac & Mia Blog | Family sitting on the bed together smiling. | Erin Konrath Photography
Erin Konrath Photography

Skip the matchy-matchy outfits.

Erin: “I always tell my clients to look at their home and when they are considering their wardrobe and go with a similar vibe of how they decorate their home. If you’re going to blow up the photos and put them on your wall (which you should!) you want them to blend in beautifully with the vibe of your decor. Don’t forget to think about your shoes if your photos are indoors. I like to suggest that dads wear striped or colorful socks for indoor photos if they aren’t wearing shoes–it’s a nice pop of color.

Jessica: “Matchy-matchy can look a little cheesy in my opinion, and I also think that choosing different patterns and colors that go together can also bring out the personality and style of individual family members. The complimentary colors are where it’s at. I recommend finding 3-4 colors and mixing patterns and solids that are within that color palette and go well together. Textures in clothing is also wonderful. Adding a cardigan, jacket or scarf helps add dimension to photos as well as lace or ruffles.”

Colors to choose, and colors to avoid.

Erin: First choose between cool colors or warm colors and then work within all the different shades with them. Make sure that neutrals—greys, khakis, creams and ivory—can go with either. Definitely don’t be afraid of patterns, just make sure you choose them on a smaller scale. It’s important to incorporate a little pattern, everyone in solid colors can be boring.

Jessica: The only colors that I suggest clients avoid are super bright/neon-y colors such as really bright red, fuchsia and orange. These colors tend to reflect back on the skin when being photographed which can lead to some really unflattering colors on faces. Muted tones and natural tones are usually a better bet and also look great in almost any setting.

Tips Family Photos | Mac & Mia Blog | Mom on porch swing with two boys. | Erin Konrath Photography
Erin Konrath Photography

Timing is everything.

Erin: For photos outdoors, I like to photograph one hour before sunset. It’s the golden hour and when the sun is usually really soft. (If the sun is too bright or high in the sky, you can end up with a lot of eyes squinting in photos.) For in home photos, I like late morning hours when the sun tends to be high in the sky, so the light is evenly spread throughout the home.

Jessica: For outdoor locations, I prefer early morning (I usually start sessions about 30 minutes after sunrise) or 2 hours before sunset. If the sun is shining (which is my ideal lighting situation), both of these times of day give a soft, golden glow to images that is super flattering and absolutely stunning in photos. If we are shooting indoors, I ask the client which time of day their house is the brightest and we try and shoot during that time.

Tips Family Photos | Mac & Mia Blog | Jessica Scott Photography
Jessica Scott Photography

Say no to meltdowns and yes to smiles and laughter.

Erin: I look to illicit natural expressions of families together enjoying moments and having fun. I tell parents to do a lot of whispering and tickling and play games with them so they aren’t expected to just sit still and smile. Just relax and have fun—as photographers we do almost every day so we can get the right photos.

Jessica: I always ask the family to have things to do together. Baking is a great one because you can get everyone involved. Or if there is a game the family likes to play or even a morning or bedtime routine can be super cute. Breakfast time is perfect because morning light is gorgeous and getting everyone involved in cooking breakfast can be messy, silly, and fun which is real life and super adorable.

About The Photographers:
Erin Konrath is a natural light photographer living in the windiest of all the cities, Chicago. She specializes in lifestyle photography in the comfort of her clients homes, but can also be found out in a field or in her studio, located in Hinsdale.

Jessica Scott is an Austin-based photographer who believes in capturing the actual moments that happen, ­not staged moments. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Will, son, Liam and their golden retriever, Rigby.

Cover image: Erin Konrath Photography