10 Tips & Tricks to your ‘Perfect’ Family Photoshoot: Prep NOW for your Holiday Shoots!

The holidays are coming and it’s already time to begin planning our family Christmas Holiday Photoshoot! I’ve been doing this for a while now, and working with professional photographers to capture lifelong memories of my family, so I wanted to share with you my 10 Top Tips for the ‘Perfect’ family shoot! See our holiday photoshoot from last year here and our Easter shoot here.


1. it’s not going to be ‘perfect’!

This is a BIG one. Notice how I had perfect in speech marks in the title? Too often we put so much pressure on ourselves to capture the perfect moment that we forget to live in the moment. Remember, your photographer does this for a living. Whether your kids are crying or your hair’s out of place, they’ll get some shots you’ll look back on forever and smile.

2. Wardrobe

When choosing your families wardrobe and outfits for your photoshoot, keep in mind color scheme. You don’t want to be clashing with patterns all over the place, and depending on where you decide to have your photoshoot, you’ll want to compliment your surroundings. Neutrals and soft tones are always a great place to start - unless you’re a family who loves the out there Christmas sweaters, of course ;)

You’ll want to have all your clothes up on hangers and easily accessible when it comes time to change outfits. If you can have a Nanny or friendly/family member on hand to help with changing the kids you’ll save a bunch of time during these quick changes.

3. Poses

Watch out for things like humped backs and double chins, but don’t take your poses too seriously. Nobody looks like a supermodel naturally, so just be comfortable and BE YOU! It’s always better to look too relaxed then too stiff, it’ll come across in all the photos if you’re straining to hold a pose.

Your photographer will have pose suggestions for you to get the kids laughing and smiling, don’t worry! Our photographer used ‘everyone kiss Momma’ or ‘Everyone kiss Aura!’ and it goes us all laughing and smiling.

4. locations

Pick a location that is familiar or synonymous with your family to encourage that relaxed feel. If you’re a water sports family like mine, we feel most comfortable by the water or in our house out on the deck. Try and pick locations that aren’t too busy - both with people and things in the background. Beaches, woodlands, parks and homes work great but if you took it to a public pier, then your photographer would spend most of their time photoshopping out photo bombers in the back!

You don’t want to be in direct sunlight as this’ll make the lighting too harsh. Overcast days like when we shot these photos, work best for lighting!

5. snacks

Snacks are a great way to keep the energy up and to keep the kids happy. We like to bring lollipops, granola bars, juice boxes and pieces of fruit as they’re easy to throw in to bags and eat quickly in-between shots.

Watch out that you don’t bring anything that could stain the clothes if spilled.

6. kid bribes!

A way to keep your kids compliant is to promise something fun to do after the shoot. Knowing they get to go for ice cream or to the toy store (we always go to the Target toy store) after puts them in a good mood! For this shoot I threw some money at it and had my Nanny tag along in case there were any meltdowns along the way. She was also a huge help in the outfit changes too!

7. facial expressions

If you’re outside, careful you aren’t squinting in the sunlight! The best facial expressions tend to be ‘new’ ones. Our photographer has us close our eyes, and shouts ‘open!’ when we’ve all opened our eyes we look fresh and she takes the shot.

Similar to posing, make sure you don’t overthink your facial expressions, and don’t be too pouty. It may look great for the ‘gram, but when you look back on your memories in 20 years you might regret working it like that ;)

8. relax

Feeling tense or self-conscious SHOWS on camera. You’re with your family and the people you love the most, so relax! Have fun with it! Play with the kids and dance around if you want to!

9. props

We’ve created ‘fake’ scenes like picnics, having hot chocolate or baking cookies before with props that look great and are natural settings too so take the pressure off of looking good!

I’ll go to Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrell to get cute props for the shoot. I end up keeping most of it because it’s so cute! Things like hot chocolate mugs, halloween decorations or tree ornaments to get that ‘candid’ shot of dressing the tree work great.

10. candid photos are better photos

Like below with swinging Aura, or Nic throwing her up in the air, these moments were totally off the cuff and candid. The below photo was actually on the walk back to the car! These spontaneous moments are always the ones we look back on fondly, rather than all stood neatly in a line and posing to death!


My sweet friend Greer over at www.family.greerrivera.com took these shots for us. I totally recommend her if you’re in Northern California! She’s taking bookings now for Fall family photos & you can follow her on Instagram @greerriveraphotography.

If you want to email me some outfit ideas I’m more than happy to give my advice! Drop me a line at lynn@goldwestvintage.com and let me know how your shoots turn out! I’d love to see them!

Love, Lynn