3 Easy Tips to Style Your Family Photos

Family photos are one of those things you love to hate. You of course love the outcome – beautiful photos of your sweet family that you’ll cherish forever. The process however, isn’t as peaceful. As a mother and a photographer, I completely understand both sides. You want your family to look their best, because you don’t want sloppy looking photos to share with friends and family, right? One of the easiest ways to help your photos turn out the best they can be, is by planning your outfits ahead of time. I know, you can hear the kids and your husband grumbling already. The idea of matching clothes makes your family members cringe, but if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy – so they allow us this one little pleasure 🙂 Here are a few family photo ideas for you and your tribe.

Don’t Be Matchy Matchy

My first and most obvious tip to you, is to avoid the super matchy. We all know the family that has photos done on the beach, and everyone is wearing white tshirts and dark wash blue jeans. While those photos are beautiful, they are very dated in my opinion. You can get so much more creative with your outfits! The usual tip I give to families, is to choose a color scheme with two or three colors to stick with. Within that scheme, you can add some prints and solids.

Family Photo Ideas

Take a look at the Clark family for example. Nicole choose a beautiful deep purple and gold as her main colors, and accented them with neutral colors like cream and gray. The different prints between she and the girls aren’t quite identical, yet the colors compliment each other perfectly. She found her pants and the girls dresses at Old Navy – which is truly the one place I always suggest people go when looking for outfits for family photos!

 Family Photo Ideas

The last time my husband and I had family photos taken, we got a few pieces from Old Navy that all coordinated perfectly. We chose coral and blue as our main color scheme. My husband’s shirt and my shawl came from Old Navy, and BOOM we had the perfect outfits. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you can always count on Old Navy to have clothes across the entire store that coordinate with one another.

Take Care of the Kids First

Tip number two is honestly the most important one – buy your kids outfits first. Even if your kids are young, you know what brands of clothing fit them best and what they’re comfortable in. If your kids are uncomfortable, your photo session is more than likely going to end with frazzled parents and unhappy kids. To avoid mayhem, go with what you know! Whether it be Old Navy, Cat and Jack, The Children’s Place or Carter’s, find a cute piece that you know will be comfortable on your kids. Also, it’s getting harder and harder to find solid color kids clothing these days, so let them wear the bold prints. You can easily accent them yourself with solid colored pieces.

Layer it Up

The last tip is an easy one – dress in layers. Even if you’re getting photos taken in the summer time, you can buy a loose coverup and wear it over a tank top or t-shirt. Wearing different layers will first of all add texture and depth to your look. Layers can hide areas you may be insecure about, accessorize your outfit, and even act as a buffer. And by buffer, I pretty much mean kid proof. If you have your son wearing a plaid collared shirt with a colored shirt underneath, you have a back up plan. Just in case he gets a stain on his plaid shirt, no worries! You have his colored t-shirt as a backup that still matches.

As with anything, try not to stress about getting the perfect family photos taken. Your kids will pick up on your tension, and likely feed off of it. Not every single photo is going to be perfectly posed, and that’s honestly a beautiful representation of your family. No family is perfectly dressed and well mannered all the time. Embrace the crazy, let your kids make silly faces and enjoy yourselves. When was the last time you had family photos taken, and how did they turn out?

How to Take Better Photos on Your iPhone

You’re scrolling through Instagram, looking at everyone else’s beautiful photos, and you think to yourself “man, I bet they took those photos with a nice camera, that’s way too much work.” While I’m sure that there are some super dedicated people who do just that, I’m not willing to put in that much effort – and if you’re reading this you aren’t either. It is 100% possible for you to take beautiful, Instagram worthy photos of your kids, home decor, dinner, or even a selfie from your iPhone. All you need to do is learn how to make your phone work for you.

Work That Light Girl

First, you must find a great source of natural light. Whether it’s a window, screen door, or even outside on your back porch, the easiest way to improve your photos is to frame your subject with natural light. So many times we can look at our photos in our camera roll, upset with the shadows, grainy quality or weird tint from fluorescents. Even on a rainy day, great natural light can take your selfies to the next level.

Once you find. your source, it’s time to play around with your shadows. If you want a backlit photo, place your subject directly in the light, and stand in front of it. If you want a softer “lit from within” look, stand in between the subject and the light source. Be careful while doing this though, and make sure you or your phone isn’t casting a shadow.

iPhone Photography Tips

Take this photo my sweet momma took for example. This shot of my daughter and i would be so cute – if it weren’t for the shadow of the stroller, and my mom’s head. (No offense momma. I still like this picture). Anyways, instead of just snapping a photo and moving on, take a moment and make sure there aren’t any weird shadows being cast on your subject. Sometimes you may have to curl up into an awkward position to avoid this –  oh the things we do for the perfect shot 🙂

iPhone Photo Composition

Next, you want to think about your photo composition. For more information about this, check out my more in depth post about the rule of thirds. In a nutshell, you can play around with the focus of your photo. Don’t be afraid to place your subject somewhere other than dead center! One of the easiest way to understand this concept, is to turn on the grid in your phones camera. To do this on an iphone, go to your Settings > Camera > Grid. This will divide your “viewfinder” up into nine sections, helping you decide where to place your subject.

Also, you want to pay close attention to where you are cutting off your subject. Let’s look at that same photo of my daughter and I again.

Iphone Photography tips

The tip of my head is cut off, which you may have never even noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out to you. My rule of thumb for body composition is simple. If you have to cut off part of a person, do it in the natural bends on the body. By that I mean if you’re zooming in or cropping an image, cut the person at the neck, elbows, knees etc., anywhere the body bends.

Photography Tips

Take this shot of Nicole for example. I wanted a close up shot, but not a full bust shot. So I chose to fill my viewfinder with her torso, and cut off the bottom of her body at the knee.

You also want to pay attention to the background and foreground of your photo. Most of  the time, you’re just concerned with the foreground of your photo and you zoom right in on it. Take a moment and step back, what is in the background of your photo? Is there something laying on the floor that takes away from the subject? Move it! Is there a piece of trash outside that would be a distraction? Change your angle until it moves out of sight. Are there really clean lines on the wall behind your subject? Play around with how much of the wall you include and see what adds context to your photo.

Turn that Phone!

Now I know this is crazy talk – but don’t be afraid to turn your phone horizontal. Pay attention to your subject. Are you taking a photo of a long vase with beautiful long stem roses? Leave your phone vertical so your focus stays on the flowers. Or, are you taking a photo of the massive 12 inch sub you ate for lunch? Turn your phone horizontal and don’t cut off any of the delicious meat and cheese. Don’t be afraid to play around with your shot, and take some photos both ways – see which one you like best! I will add, anytime you take a video on your phone – TURN YOUR PHONE HORIZONTALLY PLEASE! Phones today take full HD video, and it is truly maximized when you fill your frame and turn your phone sideways!

Photo Editing

Lastly, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention editing your photos. Personally, I try not to edit my photos too heavily. You should be taking a good enough photo to begin with, that it doesn’t need much work post comp! 

Now there are literally thousands of photo editing apps out there, and I’m sure they are all great. There are two main ones that I use regularly. The main app I use is Snapseed. It truly is the one photo editing app that does it all – and it’s free. Seriously ya’ll. If you download any app, please make sure it’s this one!

Snapseed

On it’s main page, you have several filters, or “looks” for you to choose from. If you want to get more detailed, you can go to the tools tab. Here you can adjust your photos white balance, curves, add a little bokeh, you name it. You can truly just play around for hours and get to know all the different tools available for you here. I’m working on an entire post dedicated to this app, check back later for an in depth description!

Pic Tap Go

If I just want a quick edit of a photo to share, I use Pictapgo. It can help you rotate and crop your photos, do a quick adjustment of the contrast and color and adjust the lighting. Pictapgo also has several filters you can use, and I personally find them to be much more natural looking than the preloaded ones on Instagram. 

I hope you have found these tips helpful, and are ready to start taking better photos on your phone! Drop some of your photos in the comments and tell me which tip was your favorite!