7 Ways to Take Better Family Photos During the Holidays

A family of four pose for a holiday photo in front of a wreath and Christmas tree during a family photoshoot with Ashley Lynn Photography.

A young child in a red, gingham dress plays with the lights on a Christmas tree during a photo session in Dayton, Ohio.

During a Christmas photoshoot with Ashley Lynn Photography, a mom and her two sons wear festive pajamas and laugh while sitting on a luxurious white bed.

Family Holiday Photos

The holidays are one of the best times of the year to capture new photos of your family, but it is often easier said than done.

Not everyone loves to be in front of the camera. Kids just want to play and more often than not, someone in the group has very high expectations (me, that person is me). These factors can all make family photo time a less than pleasurable experience.

Here are my 7 ways to take better family photos during the holidays and ensure that everyone has a good time.

Two young brothers wearing matching pajamas pose for a photo in front of a Christmas tree for holiday photo session in Lebanon Ohio.

A young girl and her brother decorate a Christmas tree during their family photo session in Dayton, Ohio.

Take Better Family Photos During the Holidays

1. Make It Fun

When a family photo session doesn’t come across as too serious, more family members are willing to participate. Make the day about having fun and spending time together, not about capturing the perfect photo. Plus, photos are easy to fit into the day if you approach it correctly. Does the family always drink cocoa around the tree? Get everyone to pose for a quick group shot before you sit down. Better yet, capture a candid shot of everyone sitting around the tree instead.

2. Respect People’s Wishes

Sometimes, people just don’t want their photo taken. It’s important to respect this if you want to maintain peace during the holiday season. If it’s your children who don’t want their photos taken, respect their wishes. Maybe ask for photos later in the day or on another day entirely. If all else fails, get some candid photos instead of having them sit for posed holiday photos.

3. Choose Your Location Wisely

Your family should feel comfortable during any photo session, so choose your location wisely. If you won’t be taking photos at home, choose a location that will allow everyone to stay engaged, relaxed and warm. Consider the lighting when choosing a location for your family session as this can make a big difference to the end result. When indoors, look for a room with lots of natural window light and turn off the overhead lights.

For more tips on finding the best lighting and shooting in any type of lighting situation check out my Photography Basics Workbook!

Photography Basics 

A little girl in a red gingham dress plays on a wooden horse on a white furry rug in front of a festive Christmas tree.

Two brothers in matching pajamas pose for a holiday photo during their family photo session.

A mom holds her two sons while laughing for holiday photos with Ashley Lynn Photography.

More Family Photoshoot Tips

4. Prep Your Family

It’s possible that not every member of your family has taken part in a photoshoot, so it can help to prepare them in advance. You will, once again, need to find that balance between keeping it light-hearted and ensuring they know what to expect. Tell them more about the activities you have planned and what they should and shouldn’t wear. Your outfits don’t need to match but they should ideally coordinate.

Click on the button below to view some of my Wardrobe Inspirations Guides:

Wardrobe Inspiration

5. Let Everyone Be Themselves

Your family photos should highlight everyone’s unique personalities. Remember, you are not working with models, so temper your expectations. Allowing everyone to be themselves results in genuine shots.

6. Get Them Involved

One way to get family members excited about a photo session is to get them involved in the creative process. Let them have a say in where you take photos and what you should wear. Maybe take a vote. When the shoot becomes a group effort, it feels less forced.

7. Include Everyone

Nobody wants to feel left out, so you may want to plan your shoots out in advance. Taking a shot of grandma and all the grandchildren? Don’t forget to take the same shot with grandpa. It’s especially important that all children feel like they were equally included to avoid issues after the session.

The above tips can be used regardless of whether you are hiring a professional photographer or using your smartphone or DSLR to capture the photos. There are very few times in the year when most family members are in the same place, so take advantage!

Need more advice? Check out more of my resources for taking better photos here:

Bonus Resources

Xoxo, Ashley

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