How to avoid the Frenzy in Family Photos

Sometimes family photos feels a lot like sitting in a dentist chair. You dread it until it’s over and then you are glad you did it. Momentary torture for long term pay off. I specialized in child and family photography since 2006 so I know a few things. I’m going to let you in on a few secrets.

Guess what? It doesn’t have to be so painful. Family photos are supposed to feel more like going on a hot air balloon ride; fun, exciting, new, memorable and happy.

Thing is, most people don’t know HOW to take the frenzy out of

. Well meaning parents show up with hope of a better experience than last years torture only to come away defeated and kids crying as they drive away.

At least the photos will look semi-decent right? Maybe we squeezed a few good ones out of the kids. Cross your fingers that maybe one or two came out okay.

Ha. It doesn’t have to be this way! Honestly with these few tips and tricks you will have a far better experience capturing your next set of family photos.

10 Tips to make your  family photos fantastic

1.Best snacks/bribes for family photos are SMARTIES!

Most parents think they will come prepared with snacks. In their bag they have fruit snacks, gold fish and starbursts. PLEASE LEAVE ALL OF THIS AT HOME!  GUMMY snacks are the WORST. They leave gooey goo in teeth. They take FOREVER to gobble up and no child can smile while they are eating these treats.  Same with gold fish crackers. They stain clothes orange. They leave teeth orange. No child can eat just one.  Smarties dissolve and make kids pucker. These little candies take no time to gobble up and can be partaken of in the midst of shooting.

2. Wardrobe: Find an article of clothing you love with multiple colors and work around it

Designers know what colors look good together. The most simple way to pull together a wardrobe where you coordinate but aren’t ‘matchy matchy’ is to find an article of clothing you love with multiple colors in it and pull from it so you all are coordinated but nobody is in the same thing.

3. Feed the littles

Sounds simple right? HAHA. I did my own family photos when my kids were six and eight. Family photo shoot was scheduled for 6:00pm. My eight year old would not smile. For the life of him, he would not crack a smile. When we finally gave up and left, he exclaimed, “MOM I am STARVING!”. Hello…I hadn’t fed him since lunch. Sometimes we forget food especially if we are trying to hit that sunlight golden hour that happens right on top of dinnertime. Feed kids BEFORE the photo shoot, not after.

4. Give kids their wardrobe weeks in advance

Are your kids particular about what they wear? We have a few of those ourselves. Some kids really don’t like new clothes. There are children who are particular in if they are used to an article of clothing. We have a daughter who won’t wear something unless we have crumpled it up, thrown it in the corner and washed it a thousand times. Give your kids their clothes a few weeks in advance. Let them wear it if you must. IF they REFUSE, you might want to rethink your wardrobe selection for them. Better to discover that before the day of the photo shoot.

5. Tell your husband he is going to get some

My clients husbands love me because they get to make out with their wife at the shoot. Nothing like a little bit of teasing to get the man happy about taking a few photos. Just saying.

6. Remind your husband these are what you run in after if your house burns down

Usually women have no problem spending the dollars on family photos. It is the men who worry about how much is being invested. Remind him that if the house is burning down, this is what he is running in to retrieve. Insurance can replace cars and jewelry and appliances. Insurance cannot compensate you for your time lost to make memories.

7. Leave the Stress at home

Nobody has time for it. Family photos is for a fun experience. If you are stressed, the kids will be stressed. Remember that kids will be kids. That is what is so fun about family photos. Capture ALL of your family. Let expectations go of the end result and I guarantee you the end result will blow your mind. When we let go of stress we get authenticity  in our family dynamics.

8. Don’t threaten your children! 🙂

Bribes are just fine. Leave the threats at home. If you are going to bribe with a tempting ice cream cone, don’t turn it in to a threat. Bribe in the positive. Look at the difference between “I need you to smile if you want that ice cream cone” vs. “If you don’t smile you don’t get the ice cream cone”. One is threatening and the other is enticing. No child in the history of all mankind has ever smiled or cooperated by being threatened. When a child is threatened their immediate response is negative. Promise a million times.

9. Just play

Be yourself. Play the way you do at home. Interact, love, giggle, tickle, dance, chase and race.

10. Choose a photographer who get all this

Truth is, not all photographers are created equal. Get to know your photographer. Being a skilled photographer is SO much more than knowing your camera. A master photographer is managing the camera simultaneously being able to manage people, connection, interaction and understanding the psychology of children.

Hope this was helpful!

If you are looking to hire a photographer, I am based in South Jordan, Utah. I photograph families in Salt Lake City,  Utah County and Park City. I am also available to travel. I travel to Las Vegas every fall for family photo shoots.

For every family who hires Pink Rose Photography, we gift a good grief photo shoot to a family who has lost a child. For more information on this project, check out my ‘good grief project‘ page.

You can reach me at my contact page here.

For more examples of my work, check out my this newborn post and my child gallery and family gallery.

These photos were taken at Floyd Lamb Park in Las Vegas, Nevada. I travel to Las Vegas yearly for my amazing and loyal clients.


Family Photos


Michelle Ellsworth

Photographers in Utah • Pink Rose Photography : 22:42 May 3, 2018 Reply
[…] out my blog for tips and tricks on how to make your upcoming family portrait session a […]
Utah Photography (Molly+Family) • Pink Rose Photography : 18:51 May 4, 2018 Reply
[…] ps. Before you leave, check out my blog for tips and tricks on how to avoid the frenzy in family photos.  […]

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