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Say CHEESE! 8 Tips for an Amazing Family Photoshoot!!!

Are you taking family pictures for your Christmas cards? I would love to help you with your makeup, and I can definitely offer some suggestions for amazing results. I’ve spent many years working behind the scenes on photoshoots, and I understand what it takes to make these stressful situations successful.  Here are my top eight tips!

1 – RELAX!!!!

No one looks good when they are stiff or stressed.  I don’t care if  you need to bring music along for experience or your best friends to keep you entertained.  If you think a model or celebrity gets excited about having a camera in their face non-stop, you’re wrong! They’ve just learned to relax and have fun during the process.  Do whatever you need to for a fun family shoot – Dance, joke, and enjoy being together as a family.  Let the photographer capture this special moment together.  That’s exactly how this amazing moment was captured of me and my dear friend Carrie Livingston (a celebrity interior designer).



2 – Be Yourself

Don’t wear formal clothes if that’s not your thing.  If you are more goofy, let that side of you out during your photoshoot.  When we took our pictures, I let Harvey run through the trees because this is what he LOVES to do.  I honestly feel this is why I got so many good pictures of him – especially the beautiful shot below!!!!  He wasn’t unhappy because I didn’t make him pose non-stop.  When I did pick him up, he was more willing to cooperate.  You CAN’T force a great photo.  It has to come naturally.  This happens a lot easier if you try to be yourself.


3 -Dress Right

Regardless of the formality of your clothing, make sure you dress right for the picture.  While you don’t necessarily have to dress your family alike, you should try to coordinate.  Also, keep these tips in mind:

  • avoid anything too loud
  • large patterns can make you look bigger on camera
  • darker colors are more slimming
  • anything too trendy will date your pictures if you want to put them in your house
  • try to dress your family in age appropriate styles – it looks weird if your 10 year old is trying to be 18.


I laid out our outfits on our bed to make sure they would look good when we were standing next to each other!  I’ve seen a lot of stylist lay do this.  I think this is a better visual than hanging because you can see the way it’s going to look in a picture.

4 – Come Prepared

Bring supplies with you on your photoshoot.  When I work on a shoot, I am constantly touching up a model or celebrity’s makeup to ensure that she looks her best.  Hairstylists do the same.  On our family photoshoot, I brought hair products, a brush, water, food, lotion, makeup, and more.  The photographer even came prepared with bug spray!


My bag of tricks.  Shoes were put on right when we arrived and taken off right when we were done!! Life is much better in flip flops!

5 – Pick a Good Location

Location is everything.  I like locations that match your families personality and style.  Although I personally love taking pictures at buildings (hotels, cool shopping centers, etc.), I thought this would be stressful with Harvey.  Since our family wanted to dress up, I talked with our photographer about a pretty background with lots of greenery.  I loved the paved sidewalks we walked on.  It captured a unique atmosphere that is very different from where we live, and it coordinated well with our clothing.  Keep in mind that any locations that have too much in the background might take away from your family photo!  The same is true with bridals. That is one of the reasons I love my wedding photos so much!  This shot is more about me and Chris and less about the background.

wedding image

6 – Trust Your Photographer

Whenever I work on a photoshoot, the photographer ALWAYS has the final say.  If you say too much or conflict with the photographer, you won’t get hired again.  I’ve developed a deep respect for what they do and think it is harder than it looks to capture a great image.  When you are working with them, TRUST them.  Let them do the work, and take their direction.  One day I was working on a cover shoot for Cary Grant’s daughter.  The photographer used me as a test model for about 20 minutes.  I sat there and took her direction while she tested the light.  I patiently listened and received one of the best photos of myself I’ve ever seen.

model shot

7 – Check the Camera

Don’t be afraid to look in the camera for feedback.   A little bit of personal critique is always helpful.  I did this initially and realized I didn’t like how I was standing.  I corrected this, and the final pictures turned out much better.  Also, make sure your clothes are hanging properly.  I love this picture except for the clothing malfunction with my dress.  It’s minor, but noticeable if you are looking for perfection. That’s why I didn’t choose it as a favorite.  We noticed it early on, and tried to be cautious of our clothes falling the right way.


8 – Touch Up Between Looks

Finally, NEVER be afraid to touch up between looks – especially when it comes to your hair.  I was constantly flipping my head over to fluff out my hair and make it look fuller.  I wish I had a hairstylist on hand to position my hair properly in every photo, and a patient toddler to work in this setting.  Instead, I had to make due with what I had.  In the end, I got better pictures.


Good luck!  Contact me if you have questions or to schedule an appointment for your makeover!

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