Time to have new family pictures taken...once you’ve passed the hurdle of getting everyone to agree to a family photo session, how can you ensure the results are beautiful? We know—it’s tough to get everyone clean, dressed, on time, and smiling. But the results are always worth it.

Before you schedule your next trip to the photographer, keep these tips and tricks in mind to get the most out of your session!

Do your research...
Not all photographers are the same. Some specialize in family photos and children’s photography—others don’t. It takes a special kind of person to be willing to chase a toddler around the beach or spend the afternoon with 8 family members picking out photos where no one is blinking.

Coordinate carefully. 
While you don’t need to match everyone’s colors perfectly, dressing everyone in coordinating shades lends a certain cohesiveness to the photo. But you’ll need to think beyond color—focus on the fabric, too. What do your ideal fabrics look like? Soft and flowy? Structured? Make sure that everyone’s ensemble has the same look and feel.

Make it personal.
Bring an activity that you enjoy doing together as a family. This will lend a personal touch to your photos and make them special for years to come.

Don’t pose.
Take it from the pros—not everyone has to be looking at the camera at the same time. Believe it or not, some of the best shots you end up with will likely be candid, where someone didn’t even know the photo was being taken. Try not to stress about forcing everyone to look at the camera and smile just enjoy the moment, that will make the best photo!

Be natural. 
So what if your toddler is running through the leaves or your teenager insists on leaving the purple streaks in her hair? These are the memories that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Let the shoot flow, and don’t work too hard to capture a specific shot. You’ll love the natural photos that result.

Reserve time.
Allow yourselves plenty of time to get ready, so that everyone arrives at the shoot relaxed and in good spirits.

Have fun!
Most importantly, remember to have fun with the shoot. Your personalities should shine through in the photos, so it’s best if you are all genuinely enjoying the experience—and each other.