Tips from a pro: How to get family photos you’ll love

Tips from a pro: How to get family photos you’ll love

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - We’ve hit the marathon holiday season where families try to make memories and mark milestones. If you’re trying to fit in all your precious family traditions and also capture them, there’s a good chance pictures are on your to-do list.

Photographer Lindsey Martin says fall is the most popular time for family photos, with families looking to update their pictures during the cooler, colorful fall.

But every mom knows: capturing a smile from the whole gang - at the same time - on the same day - is no easy task. Looking good doing it? I think we can all admit that is a project in and of itself!

Lindsey has some great style guide tips on her website if you work with her. She sends them to all her clients. But, she’s revealing some of her quick tips to help all of us.

So she bravely took on my kids...

Let’s start with wardrobe: Lindsey says to start with mom and build your family’s wardrobe from there.

“Start with yourself first,” said Martin. “Moms care most likely more than anyone else about the final product. So, we think aesthetically how it’s going to look in our house when we frame it; what we’re going to use it for. So, if you want to be happiest with the photos, start with what you’re going to wear first and then build everybody else’s wardrobe around yours.”

Once you find something you like, here are her tips for everyone else:

“The days of everyone being matchy-matchy are out,” Martin said. “So pick a color palate - three or four colors - and just kind of run them through your wardrobe and have little pops here and there of those colors. I think you really want to mix it up ... add some florals in there, even a stripe. Maybe a polka dot. Then also add some solids. You don’t want it to be too busy, but kind of the perfect mix of everything that adds interest in your photo."

When Lindsey took our pictures, we paired sweaters with florals and corduroy to get some texture, then added layers for dimension.

It was a daunting task, for me. But, I had a conversation with Lindsey as I chose the pieces, and with many of you on Instagram to pick the pieces out. Then I brought a few extras, just in case.

For her clients, she even offers some local guidance and an online style guide! This is from what she sends them:

"We’re now offering TWO free styling services for clients. If you prefer to shop local, For Posh Sake in Mechanicsville is offering 20% off clothing for moms. You can even call the store at (804) 569-2713 and schedule a time when they will help you choose what looks best for your photos. Lindsey has been working with the owner to hand-pick pieces that will look great on camera.

The second option is online at “Style and Select.” All you have to do is go to and enter the client access code. Fill out a short client questionnaire, and the site will provide you with wardrobe selections from reputable companies like Old Navy, Zara, Lulu’s, Carter’s, etc. New items are added every 72 hours, so if you don’t see something you like right away, feel free to check back."

For me, having the added eye of a photographer to sort through the mound of clothes really helped. She also suggested considering where the pictures might get used in my house, and how I might like the colors and patterns in my home.

“It doesn’t sound that complicated, but when you think about, these are going to go on your walls," said Martin. “It makes a big difference and is really, really important. Taking pictures and communicating with your photographer ahead of time is huge when it comes to getting a great product in the end.”

Teens and older kids don’t really apply to my family (yet), but I thought they might apply to yours. So, I picked Lindsey’s brain a bit.

So, here’s her best advice for pictures with older kids:

“They understand a little bit better what’s going on. And I think to incentivize the family photos is probably the best way. But also - make it fun for them, too. I think that giving them options - so maybe choosing a color palette and then giving them some options. Maybe looking at their wardrobe and saying, ‘Okay, I know this is your favorite, how can we incorporate this into our images? Maybe you wear the top that I chose, but then you wear your favorite pair of jeans.'”

Lindsey says to think about the location and time of day as well and plan around that ahead of time.

Have a conversation with your family and your photographer about it. When is everyone free and happy? Make sure what you’re wearing fits the feel of where you’re shooting. Is it casual? Formal?

“It’s important that your wardrobe - what you’re going to wear - matches where you’re going to be," said Martin. "For example, you may not want to wear a tuxedo in the middle of a field. So, you’ve got to coordinate and communicate with your photographer in order to make it all come together really nicely in the end.”

And Lindsey says light is often best for photography in the early morning or evening.

If you plan ahead, you can consider what might be useful to keep your kids comfortable and distracted during pictures. I brought along a book, and we read together. Lindsey got cute pictures, and my kids forgot about her because they were listening to the story. I did choose a book with a pretty cover.

Sarah Bloom recommends bringing a book with you for family photos, to help distract the kids.
Sarah Bloom recommends bringing a book with you for family photos, to help distract the kids. (Source: Lindsey Martin)

One of my favorite tips Lindsey gave: go into the shoot with the right attitude. Instead of being anxious, plan to have a good time together and let the photographer capture those fun moments for you.

“You know, it’s time for us to go out and play and explore and spend time together as a family,” Martin said.

And that did sound like a lot more fun.

“It’s an opportunity to spend good family time and then have this amazing memento to take forward with you and look back on the years to come," she said.

And here’s a big one: check out your photographer’s style first to see if it matches yours. Do you like how he or she edits and uses light? Do you like dreamy backgrounds?

Ask how packages are laid out and if you get digital images? Do you pay for those later? Sometimes you have to get a lot of questions answered to truly compare options. But, social media and websites can help a lot with your research. Here is Lindsey’s.

And remember, sometimes capturing the chaos, is capturing a moment in time, too. Because these moments in time are fleeting. And capturing life - crazy and exhausting and unorganized as it sometimes is - is still priceless.

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