How To Have A Stress-Free Family Photo Shoot

Family Photo at a Firehouse

We recently hired our clients, Cola & Soley Media, to take our family portrait – our first one as a family of three. It was a great experience flipping roles as client and customer with these talented photographers. I am thrilled with how the photos came out!

Wilton Family Photo 2016

My husband isn’t exactly fond of being photographed, so I knew that I needed to make our photo session as stress-free as possible. Here is how I managed to do that —

  1. Don’t drive yourself (or your family) crazy with coordinated outfits. I’ve been in extended family portraits where everyone had to wear solid white. It led to last-minute crazed stain removals, eye rolling over the one person who couldn’t follow the all white rule and just HAD to have some color thrown into their outfit (okay, okay, that was me!), and other drama. And then not everyone’s skin tone looks good in pure white and it can cause the photos to feel overexposed or washed out. So for my family, I made a simple guideline – a color theme and jeans. The jeans were whatever was comfortable, and everyone has a pair already anyways. And then I thought the shirts should have red or blue in them. That was it. I chose a red onesie for the baby, with a backup of a grey onesie. See, I didn’t even follow the red rule with the backup shirt. Because it isn’t a big deal! Grey looks good on him and would flow with any color.
  2. Consider the time and location before you schedule the shoot. Our photographers knew the end of the day would hold the best lighting. So, we worked backwards from sunset to figure out what time to start. We worked together to choose two shooting locations. They wanted beauty, and I wanted convenience. Driving around the city with a screaming baby and road raging driving would not a happy day make. So, we chose two locations that were close to him. I also knew that I could nurse the baby in between the two locations, and told the photographers ahead of time that we would need a break for feeding.
  3. Don’t Nit-Pick. Nobody wants to be fussed over and told what to do non-stop for four hours. So don’t stress over minute details like where someone’s pinky is positioned or if a drop of baby drool landed on your shoulder. Most of the details you’re freaking out over won’t even be in any of the photo viewers’ radars. Plus, your photographers will take enough snaps that they will edit out disaster pics and present you with the best shots, and then you’ll have plenty to choose from as your favorites from that batch.
  4. Remember that you are capturing a moment in your life. This ties in with the last tip. Maybe your baby is a 4 month old that decided to fuss the day of your photo. Don’t push him! Take a break, or let him sleep during some photos. Maybe you have a teenager with an attitude. Let her roll her eyes in some photos. Maybe your husband can’t get comfortable in front of the camera. Try to make him laugh instead of putting on a forced smile. You’ll look back on these photos year from now and have a great time remembering where you all were at that point in your lives. That’s more important than having some perfectly posed *ahem* not true to life * image to share with your Facebook followers.

And here’s the not-so-perfect images that are completely perfect to me. They make me smile and I know we will have so much fun looking at them for years and years to come.

Tired Baby Yawning Photo
“Mom, I’m tired!”
My arms were exhausted and I had to thank my husband for being so sweet all day!
My arms were exhausted and I had to thank my husband for being so sweet all day!
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Taking a Break in the Country


Every year, my family has a reunion at my grandparents’ house. It was a true joy to bring my baby to the family gathering this year so he could meet his cousins and other relatives. Although the drive to the rural town of Colquitt was arduous with a 3 month old, the family time and break from the day-to-day was worth it.


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Hippie Island Travels…to Orange Beach, Alabama

Because I had a baby in July, I haven’t been able to get to the beach this summer. Usually I spend at least a few long weekends at a nearby beach over the summer, so by the end of August I was feeling a bit stir crazy and craving a dip in the ocean. The idea of traveling with a newborn is daunting, but my husband and I decided that we would do our best and try our hand at traveling with a baby.

Well, it turns out that with some patience and a laid back attitude, infant travel is a breeze! 

We had a 3 hour car ride to get to our destination of Orange Beach, Alabama. We decided we would stop whenever the little man signaled he needed to eat or get out of the car seat. On our first stop, we found a grocery store at the exit so we could buy a healthy lunch and snacks to eat in the car while I breastfed. On the next fussy interlude, we went to an outlet mall and bought some super cute baby outfits at a Carter’s store. It was so much fun to peruse the baby styles! 

At our hotel, we had thought ahead and got a balcony room overlooking the beach. This turned out to be the best decision. With a newborn’s delicate skin, you can’t go out in the sun and crazy heat. But our covered balcony let me still have the beach experience with the view, sound of the ocean waves, and cool breeze flowing in. And our baby never slept so well as he did in the breezy salt air. It’s the most fresh air he has gotten his whole life! 

With my Boba wrap, I was able to take walks on the beach early in the day and in the evening. The pool area at our hotel, the Tides Hotel by Best Western Premier, also had a nice shady covered area with chairs, a couch, and a bar. So I sipped a virgin banana daiquiri with my toes in the water and my baby on my chest as my husband swam (and we took turns). Yay for baby wearing!

Even though I was on a mini vacation, I still had to rep Hippie Island. The hotel liked our Instagram photo so they reposted it to their feed.

Beach Love Happiness. Yep, I get that.


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