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Preparing for Your Fall Family Photos: Advice From Photographers

I absolutely love having family photos taken, especially in the Fall when the weather starts to change and I start thinking about Christmas card photos. My husband would probably even tell you I’m obsessed with photos. I can’t help it. Family photos capture a moment in time of our family. Family photos freeze time of our children who are growing before our very eyes. I cherish our family photos, but they’re not always easy to capture. There’s a lot that goes into preparing for a successful family photo session with your favorite photographer. So I asked a few of my photographer friends to share their best advice.  

What to Wear for Your Family Photos

  • Have fun with patterns.
  • Steer away from oranges and reds as those colors reflect back onto skin tones.
  • Search Pinterest for wardrobe ideas. Search for Fall Color Pallet Photography.
  • Don’t be too “matchy-matchy” and don’t have more than two people wearing the same outfit in your family photos.
  • When trying to find clothes for your kids, shop at stores that typically have color-coordinated collections. Then you can buy their items in one place and know the colors will go together.
  • A good rule of thumb is “less is more.” It doesn’t have to all match but go with a two or three-color scheme that ties the family photos together nicely.
  • Lay out everyone’s outfit ahead of time. Make sure everyone has tried them on and everyone is comfortable in them. If anything is uncomfortable, that will show through in your photos so swap out those items.
  • Pick one outfit to style the family around. Do you have the perfect dress for yourself or your daughter or the perfect outfit for your son? Then start there and find coordinating pieces to go with that outfit.
  • Go for complementary colors instead of the entire family matching. Some of the best are navy and yellow, or navy and cranberry. Mix and match within the family. Use accessories to add a pop of color.

Getting the Family Ready to Face the Camera

  • Talk it up to the kids (and your husband for that matter)! Kids don’t do well just showing up with a stranger holding a camera and being told to smile. It’s important to talk to them ahead of time about how much fun they’re going to have taking family photos together.
  • Let the kids know you’re just hanging out together as a family, cuddling, tickling, chasing and playing games.
  • Avoid telling your kids to use their “real smile” or to behave. Don’t ask them to say “cheese.”
  • Make sure everyone has full bellies! (Mom and dad too!) Full tummies mean happier people and better photos.
  • Bribery is definitely okay. Candy and treats aren’t the best ideas, but maybe have non-staining snacks on hand, just in case to use as an incentive.
  • Consider planning a special outing after the shoot as an incentive for good behavior. Take the family for ice cream or to the park when you’re done. Keep everyone comfortable.
  • Bring the stuffies, if that is a quick calming trick for your kiddo. If the weather is unpredictable, bring a snuggly blanket for warming up between shots.

“People are their most beautiful when they are laughing, crying, dancing, playing, telling the truth, and being chased in a fun way.”

Amy Poehler

Relax & Enjoy Your Family Photo Session

  • Before you get out of the car at your family photo session, take a deep breath! You may think your kids are acting crazy but trust the professional you hired to capture your memories. Nine times out of ten they’ve nailed those in-between moments and perfect smiles.
  • When it feels like everything is going wrong, let the kids run and take a moment for a photo with your spouse. Take a time out and give your littles the snuggles they need. These are beautiful moments that are part of parenthood and can make beautiful family photos too! Just laugh!
  • Sometimes all we can do it accept our kids for who they are and embrace their chaos! Those images will be the ones that speak to your heart when those crazy toddlers are grown!
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff! A hair out of place is easy to fix. Silly faces and playing around with a child who is starting to melt down turn into beautiful, candid photos.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

  • It’s always crazy trying to get the family ready for a photo shoot. Give yourself some extra time for showers/baths, dressing and hairstyling so you don’t feel rushed. Mom can even consider getting her hair and makeup professionally done to alleviate that stress.
  • Leave the house a little early so you don’t feel rushed trying to get to your location. When a family shows up for a session rushed and stressed, the session will feel (and look) stressed too.
  • Arrive at your location 10-15 minutes early. This will allow everyone time to warm up, especially small children.

Thank you to my amazing photographer friends who helped me create this article!

Trista Gangestad

Originally from Florida, Trista Gangestad and her family moved to CO ten years ago and live on a small hobby farm with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband have 2 daughters, the oldest of which was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosome disorder. Trista has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and worked in Communications and Event Planning for more than 10 years before becoming a mom. During the pandemic, Trista discovered a need for clean burning candles that don’t emit soot or chemicals into our homes. She formed Clever Cow Candle Co. in 2021 and makes hand poured, 100% soy wax candles with clever, inspiring and sometimes sarcastic designs on the containers. Check out her candles at When this busy mom has time for herself, she enjoys sewing, crafting, shopping, drinking “candy coffee,” and watching guilty pleasure TV shows.

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