The Place


How to avoid a family photo meltdown

Posted at 3:12 PM, Jul 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-25 17:12:25-04

Photographer Meg Turley shared her tips for having a fun and successful family photo shoot. To find more from Meg go to

How to get the best family photo -

What to wear - picking an outfit out for family photos can be so overwhelming. But I have a few tips for making the selection process a little easier.  First be mindful of  WHERE you’ll be taking your photos. Beach? Mountains? At home? Disneyland? What’s appropriate for the mountains wouldn’t necessarily work for the beach, and vice versa.  

Not sure what colors to wear? - Tip: start with the color blue.  Blue photographs so nicely both on color film and digital, and typically works well on everyone. It photographs as a neutral.  It’s not about being matchy-matchy (in fact I kind of discourage that!), it’s about fitting together nicely. You can do it!

99% of the time it’s the mother/wife of the family who schedules a family photo session with me, and I know these photos are most important to her. If she has a dress she’s been excited to wear, or a new shirt, let that be the starting point for everyone else!  Keep it simple!  Whatever you choose, remember your outfit is a way of expressing who you are through these photos, something that is exciting to you and authentic to your personality will translate.

For both kids and adults, comfort is key!  Believe me, if you don’t like your outfit, it will come through in the photos.  Tip: If you have an opinionated toddler (or husband), try your best to incorporate something of theirs you know they love to wear.  For example, my husband hates wearing jeans… I know! So for my family photos, I would never plan to have him wear jeans…

Tip: I always tell my brides, and moms to wear more makeup than they typically do.  Camera lenses have a way of magnifying our features for better or worse.  So, put on a little extra makeup to enhance your favorite features. Maybe it’s wearing some fake lashes to make your eyes pop, or a lipstick with a touch more color. Always bring some sort of chap stick or lipstick to keep your lips looking hydrated and plump.  You won’t regret it.  Here she wore a bright lip, and it photographed so beautifully.

How to handle a large group - Here’s the thing… large family photos can be overwhelming for everyone.  I know there is a lot of planning beforehand.  With that in mind - as you arrive at the photo session the best thing you can do is relax. JUST RELAX, and trust your photographer to take it from there. I always do my best to be as efficient as possible, being mindful there are babies or elderly who aren’t interested in lingering.

How to bribe kids - As we head into late summer/fall photo sessions, the golden hour falls somewhere right around dinner time.  If I could offer one Tip: feed your kids before the photo shoot.  No one likes to take pictures on an empty stomach.  Even if it’s not a full meal,  and the reward is dinner at their favorite place after pictures, make sure they’re fed before hand.  

I get asked frequently, should I bring my mom or sister with us to help make so and so laugh? Yes, please! Chances are they know how to make your toddler open up better than I do. This is also nice so I can take mom and dad for some photos, and someone has an eye on the kids.

It’s not a bad idea to bring a treat or two to your photo shoot to keep your kids entertained… just make sure it’s not red licorice or something that might stain around the mouth and drip on to their shirt.  Most of all, what matters is the people in the photo, and making them feel good!