The Secret to Picture Perfect Family Photos

Picture perfect family photos are what most people are striving for when creating their holiday cards. As a mama, I understand the desire to want perfect photos of your family to display on your wall or in your Christmas card. But what does a picture perfect family photo look like? Everyone polished and dressed well? Children perfectly posed, smiling at the camera? Everyone’s hair perfect and nothing out of place? I strongly encourage you to redefine what perfect means, when it comes to family photos. As a San Diego family photographer there are a few factors I’ve seen that create picture perfect family photos. But it might not be what you think.

Let Go of Expectations

Within the first year of becoming a mother, I quickly learned that expectations were something to hold loosely. All of my well-laid plans could quickly be destroyed with the onset of a meltdown or a child who refused to nap. If I’m being honest, going into my own family photos in the past, I have held high expectations for how our session would go. I stayed as calm and positive as I could prior to our session time, and had the highest hopes for compliant and cooperative kiddos. If I’m being honest, what this led to was feeling on edge during our family session and disappointed when it was over.

Now as a photographer, I encourage my clients to come into their session without any expectations other than to be together as a family and interact with each other. Let go of the expectations of kids being on their best behavior. Stay calm and present to your time together, rather than micromanaging attitudes or smiles. I guarantee you will have a much more enjoyable experience during your session.

For Picture Perfect Family Photos,
Focus on Your People More Than the Camera

We all have an idea in our head of what a picture perfect family photo looks like. We scroll Pinterest or instagram, saving images we love and perhaps hope to recreate. And while none of this is bad, it can cause us to focus on posing in front of the camera, rather than the camera naturally capturing your family. love Pinterest and use it all the time for photography inspiration and wardrobe guides. However, seeing images we have deemed in our mind as “perfect” can cause us to come into our session focusing on posing in front of the camera, rather than the camera naturally capturing your family. You can see and feel a moment that is captured as opposed to a pose that was recreated. The more you focus on your people during your session, the more natural your images will be. Perfect images, in my opinion, are captured in moments and memories made.

Family of four having fun during family photos on Coronado Beach

Focus on The Prompts Given, Rather Than the Final Product

This tip is similar to the last one given. As a lifestyle photographer, I spend the majority of my sessions prompting families to interact with one another. After I set them up in a pose and position them where I want them, I then ask them to do something. Kiss a child, throw a toddler in the air, hug mom or dad, tickle brother or sister, etc. Focus on the prompts that have been given rather than what the image may or may not look like. Again, natural interactions capture more beautifully than forced smiles.

Image of picture perfect family photos in front of the Hotel Del in Coronado
Images of family walking on the beach in Coronado during family photos

Trust Your Photographer 🙂

This is perhaps the greatest piece of advice I could give my clients! While I am asking YOU as the client, to not focus on the camera or what your images will look like, I sure am! As an artist, I’m focused on capturing connection, emotion, and authenticity among your family members. I will pose you in certain ways for certain reasons, so even if it feels odd–trust me!

Photo of picture perfect family photos

Enter Into Your Family Session Ready to Be Present

Something powerful happens within us when we are present. For me, stress melts away and peace washes over me. I feel calmer and more happy. I enjoy my children and feel grateful for what God has given me. For one hour I am going to ask my clients to hold, kiss, play with, and just be with their family. I always say to treat your family session like a fun family outing. So come ready to do just that–have FUN!

Are you ready to let go of expectations, focus on your people and be present??! If so, let’s create some memories and capture moments that matter!

XO, Desiree

Desiree Jacobs Photography is based in San Diego, CA