With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time for family pictures. That means it will be time to stock your purse full of bribery suckers, scour the internet for the perfect outfits, and try really hard to keep your cool in front of your photographer as your kid runs straight for the mud the second he steps out of the car for the shoot.
Looking back through the photos from this shoot, you would never guess how stressful it was! Eli was a complete mess. We shot at 5pm and he was tired and hungry. Bradley had soccer practice literally 20 minutes after the shoot. Garrett is the coach, so my car was full of all the soccer balls and goal and we could not be late. Cash always turns into either a crazy goon at the bewitching hour, or Pouty Cash who is mad at the word. He picked Pouty Cash this day. We pulled up to the park to shoot and there was a giant volleyball tournament going on (its usually empty) and all three boys wanted to join in and play. Was this shoot fun? I’m going to go with a hard no. Was I a sweaty mess when we were done? You betcha. But I now have really cute shots of my boys all at ages they will never be again, so it was 100% worth it to me.
I really love what I do. I love that I get to run this blog and interact with so many amazing women. I love sharing aspects of my life, products that I love, and sales that are too good to keep to myself. One of my absolute favorite things about running Elle Apparel is that many of my posts involve my kids, so I get great professional pictures of them as they grow. I know getting all prepped for a family photoshoot multiple times a month is not super typical, but because I’ve done it so often, I’ve learned a few things that can make shooting with kids a little less…..painful? stressful? messy? I don’t know, you fill in the blank there! Here are a few things I’ve learned after shooting time and time again with my kids:
When it comes to picking outfits, less is more! Especially when working with more than two kids, avoid too many patterns. Stick a max of two kids in one small item with a simple pattern (like the striped top Eli wore, or the gingham button up Cash wore). I kept Cash’s top opened and added a solid tee to water down the pattern even more. You want the focus to be on the kids’ faces more than a bold pattern. Nordstrom nailed it with their kids clothing this fall. They have so many great simple basics, so I always go there first when I’m searching for classic kids looks. I can also count on Nordstrom for really quality clothing that will hold up for my active boys. Bradley’s Converse and Cash’s Freshly Picked shoes show a little of their personality, but they are also simple and understated.
Color pallet is key: The color pallet gives the first impression of the image, so try to avoid colors that are too bright, or too matchy matchy. My rule of thumb is to decide on 2-3 colors that pair nicely together (always including at least one neutral), and then look for items within the spectrum of each color. For this shoot I went with gray, navy, and camel. My sweater was a super light grey, Bradley’s top was a bit darker, Cash’s pants were dark grey, and my pants were black, but the distressing kept them casual, so it still worked. I fell in love with Bradley’s cute joggers, and knew I had boots that same color, so that would be cohesive. I also like to mix up the colors within a look to avoid one person standing out more. It’s all about keeping a good neutral balance with the clothing.
You will be surprised what your photographer can capture: So many times we wrap up and shoot and I think “there is no way we got a decent shot,” and then I stare in awe at the images my photographer is able to capture. If you just allow yourself to by patient and kind and let your kids be goofy for a few shots, chances are you will really capture true candid interaction. And those kinds of images are always the best ones in my opinion.
Keep the clothes clean: This one is easier said than done. But I had all their clothing steamed and laid on their beds (I’m psychotic…I know). Then I waited till the very last minute possible before getting them dressed. They put on their clothes and went straight to the car. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars. Put the sucker down, Cash. No touching! I threw their play clothes for the soccer practice in a bag and changed each of them in the car after the shoot. With all that said, Bradley and Cash ran straight for the dirt hill the second we got out of the car to shoot, so baby wipes are crucial! They are literally the equivalent to a magic wand for a mom.
Set their expectations: Before we shoot I always walk through everything we will be doing for the shoot with the boys. I’ve learned that if they know that once we are done with pictures we can get a Happy Meal, play at the park, etc, they are much more likely to be obedient.
Bribe: Do it. Do it and don’t be ashamed. I brought a bag of skittles to this shoot and would stick one in each boys mouth if they stood still for me. Tell them they can do something fun after the shoot, and really go do that fun thing. They deserve it, and so do you!
Let the kids be themselves: I mean…to an extent. Don’t let them roll on the floor and punch each other. But if the baby is crying (like Eli was 80% of this shoot), gather around the baby and try to make him laugh! It makes for a great real picture! The boys just learned this super funny/weird Pokemon handshake thing, so they did it for some of the images and I love it! Is one kid frowning for all the pictures? Have everyone frown just like them for a shot. Chances are you will get everyone (including the frowner) to give you real laughs and a smile because of it.
Here’s to surviving family pictures this year!
Shop the post: