Secrets Behind Successful Family Photos

The secret to successful family photos is more than choosing the right photographer. There are a lot more elements you can control for a positive experience.

Photographer Heather Gibb reveals what makes the biggest difference on picture day.


What do you what to come across in your photos? You cannot change the eye of the photographer, but you can and should express to the photographer what you want to portray in your photos.

Spend some time checking out their website, blogs and Facebook pages. Do you love their style?

Are you seeking real-life images that show spontaneity and action, or are you looking for that traditional posed family portrait? Do you tend to love a more classic and simple style or clothing and photography, or do you love the color and edginess or urban sessions?


Think about a location. Drive around and look at your neighborhood in a new way. Look for color… look for fields…. look for architecture…. do not be afraid to go outside of your yard!


The first thing to ask yourself when deciding on colors to wear, is where you plan to hang the portraits in your home, and what colors are in that room.

Next choose an inspiration piece to center other outfits around.
Pick 3 or so colors that coordinate with the inspiration piece. Also add interest and color with accessories. Let the accessories be the pop of color.

Lay it all days before to make sure you have everything you need and it works (down to the shoes!)

Also, split up the pairs. If you have natural pairs in the family: mom and dad, brothers, sisters, mom and baby, try to split up the colors, as they will often be standing near each other. If you have a baby, and you will end up holding them since baby and mom are a “pair” try to not dress alike in the same colors.


Have some ideas of something you may want to try. But, allow flexibility if it doesn’t work to. Simple props can add to the photo or include family pets to showcase “all” of the family!
Pinterest is filled with ideas of poses.


If you have young children try to prepare them for the day. Talk to them the night before about how much fun the day will be. On the day of your session, start your morning with a smile…. wake up happy ( or at least appear that way to your kids 🙂 ) Oh yeah, I almost forgot one of the most important things… DO NOT FORGET THE BRIBES!

With teens, the need more time to prepare. Let them know in advance about photo session. Have boys get haircuts a week or two before the session instead of the day before. Let them have a say in what they wear!

Feed everyone before they start to get ready (to avoid stains, mishaps and other potential catastrophes).

Be sure everyone has plenty of time to shower, fix their hair, get dressed and do their make-up prior to leaving for your scheduled appointment. Leave early so you will arrive about 10 to 15 minutes prior to your appointment. Trying to rush everything at the last minute is a recipe for disaster


You’re at the session….now what! Stay calm and patient during your family photo session. If the adults stay calm, patient and posed properly, the photographer should be skilled at getting the kids to join in the fun. The result will be a family portrait you’ll happily hang in your home for years to com

The most important part of your family portrait is each person’s expression and the relationships between you. It is the expression that will make your portrait beautiful because it is the expressions that remind you of each person’s unique personality.
Don’t sweat it – the harder you push a child, the more they’ll push back

Don’t set yourself up for failure with super high expectations. Look at the photo results to see what type of relationships show. Use humor in your cards and show the relationships the family has with each other

Heather Gibb is a traveling photographer who serves from Utah to New York City. She loves to read, travel with friends, and get her running workout in. She is a mom to 3 fun and crazy boys and loves sugar and candy. Find out more at

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