Family Photo Tips For A Winter Wonderland Session

Family photos. I LOVE family photos. It’s no real secret that I love photos in general, but there is something really special to me about documenting these quickly changing years. But a successful family photo shoot doesn’t just happen (yes one great photo or moment, can candidly happen – but a polished family session generally doesn’t). So with that in mind I thought a little insight into the process that lead to our recent family photos, with some easy tips, could be helpful. Ultimately, whether there are 2 or 12 of in a family pic, you want commonality without matchy match. You want it to look effortless and stylish and yet you must give some thought and planning. All you need is two similar items (colour or style) per family member, for a cohesive look. You want to avoid colours that are unpleasant together and busy patterns that would compete or clash – unless of course that is your thing – in which case embrace away.

Pinterest is your friend and your enemy in this way for inspiration. You can get great ideas for poses and colour combos (which is very helpful), but be careful you don’t get tunnel vision to try to create a look for your family that is something completely different than anyone’s actual comfort level and style. Like your husband has never worn a bowtie in his life or your kid HATES hats or you are going to wear heels in sand/snow. If your kid is wearing something they like or are comfortable with – the genuine smiles and memories and lack of complaining are going to make for far better memories and pictures.

So in our case, we went with the girls wearing dark jeggings and tan coats – but other than a similar colour, the jackets were quite different – this is good, in my opinion. I put them both in dressier boots, as ratty footwear may be practical, but it can be a bit of a deal breaker in photoshoots as it can immediately discredit all the outfit planning as the eye will be drawn there instead. I hate to say it, but shoes can make or break an outfit. Alternately, you could just crop the photos – since family photos are more about family, cuddles, smiles and faces – than footwear. It just depends what ideas or poses you have in mind.

The hubby and I both wore dark blue/navy jackets. Mine was a black and blue plaid. My oldest and I added our favourite wool scarves, that I had knit for us years ago. And since it was snowing we all chose a favourite hue of (or in my case, the colour that went best) our Peggalish bamboo hats. Same hats, different colours – with and without bows.

It breaks down like this:

Two of us wore scarves. Two of us did not.

We all wore same style hats – but we each chose a different colour – two with bows, two without.

Two of us wore tall, black boots.

Two wore jeggings.

We ALL wore winter coats, two were blue and two were camel colour – complementary and not competing patterns or colours.

I worked with what we had – my jacket was actually old and a little too big and the only one with a pattern, but it went nicely and my youngest’s  was a hand me down from her sister, but they fit with the cohesive style and image I had in mind. For these photos I didn’t buy anything new, since it wasn’t even a given we were going to able to get snow and fit it into our schedule while visiting family (but we did – yay!). I could have gone with denim leggings as well, but that would have made me feel a little too matchy with everyone else, so instead I opted for black boots and leggings. If my husband wore anything other than jeans and sneakers, it would not have been him. So that was that.

I personally find that its difficult to appreciate skirts and dresses with winter coats, when it’s actually cold enough to do up a winter jacket, so I opted for leggings/jeggings and boots and stylish jackets, with details that gave a nice silhouette rather than bulk. I chose to add style (or ‘fanciness’ as the girls call it!) and personality through our cold weather accessories. And well my husband always jokes that his accessory is all of us next to him (it doesn’t always go over well…but in this case he played it up well).

Later for some mother daughter photos, I donned a matching hat to my girls for some twinning moments. Because why not?! And it turns out we look alike and have similar taste…because well we just do…and possibly genetics.

When taking photos with kids – GO WITH THE FLOW. Easier said than done, I know. It’s the perfect balance of having a couple ideas in mind, especially when it comes to poses (this means a little research and thought before hand), many deep breathes and a willingness to adapt in the moment. Your favourite pictures may end up being the ones that happen organically (or when your husband goes to kiss you and accidentally sticks his nose in your eye), but speaking as a (once upon time) photographer and a subject, everything works best with little planning going into it. I generally tell the kids that everyone gets to chose a ‘set up’ and an idea for a photo, then the kids are usually more keen to go along with my ‘turn’ after. I also like to tell them what I expect before hand – such as I would like to get:

1) picture of us all hugging,

2) one of us walking away holding hands and looking back at the camera and

3)a silly face one


Here’s hoping these little tips, can help to inspire you to arrange and curate many a successful family photo session!!!

Ps. It helps when your sister in law is an amazing photographer!!




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