How to Look Good in Family Photos: 5 Secrets

I cannot tell you how many families have booked their family photo session, got excited, and then panicked for tips!

These may not be “secrets,” but they’ve been tested over and over. I can tell you now that I’ve never had a family attend a session unhappy that followed these tips for flawless portrait photography.

Secret 1: Get Out!

I will always prefer an outdoor setting over an indoor, especially with young kiddos! You get beautiful natural light from golden hour, less stress, and a gorgeous scenic backdrop. What’s not to love?? 

There’s something about four walls that stifle little ones. I just feel we’re less likely to ask them to sit still or be quiet in the open air. Outdoor sessions offer spontaneous moments to capture as well. We spot fairies, listen to bird songs, watch the river run, etc. It’s more of a family day out rather than a formal affair.  

Unfortunately in Northern Ireland, that’s not always a possibility. I’ll have tips for indoor specific sessions, but my go-to will always be to let them run free.

Secret 2: Snacks

I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of being “hangry” quite often. When that happens, I cannot think of anything but FOOD. It’s a basic human need-don’t fight it!  

Now to be clear about this one, snacking during a session actually is problematic. I’ve paused sessions or have been in a position to not use photos with great light because someone was mid-chew (and not in a cute way). 


Eating an apple or snack bar on the way up to the location or just before everyone (including yourself) is dressed would be the perfect time! Everyone gets a nice boost of energy just before getting in front of the camera. This will keep ya’ll in the moment throughout the session.  

Another idea for this would be to include this “secret” in your session time! How many giggly photos would you get with giant ice cream cones or a piece of watermelon on a sunny day?! It’s classic! Make it an experience to remember.

Secret 3: Treat Yo-self

You don’t need a big budget to treat yourself before the photo session. Sometimes all we need is to make time for ourselves. So, make sure you put the kids to bed earlier (don’t be too disappointed) to allow for a fresh layer of varnish, self-tanner or setting those curlers.  

Have a bit of extra cash? Make an appointment for a blow out, get your makeup done (natural look is best) or just get those brows tamed.  

My personal favorite TYS (Treat Yo-Self) tips:

  • Budget an hour (maybe an hour and a half) before getting everyone else ready
  • The kids get to run around and get as dirty as they want before you scrub them clean.
  • I have a playlist specifically for getting ready. The extra half hour is mostly for the bedroom disco time.  
  • I’ve downloaded every album Beyoncé has ever made. You’re welcome. 

The point is, if you feel confident it’ll show in your photos. I’ve talked more about that here.

Secret 4: Glam up

Being overdressed for a photoshoot is NOT. A. THING. 

Casual and comfy is very sweet, but glam threads will always bring that extra wow-factor to your family portrait.  

There are a few ways to go glam for an outdoor family picture. You can go full on sequins in sunset or just consider a delicate fabric in nature.  

Whether you’re having your session indoor or outdoor, choosing pieces like:

  • A good maxi dress
  • A-line dress
  • Flowy/loose top with tight fitting trousers/leggings 
  • That dress you wore to the office party ONCE...

These all look great!

Gorgeous satin amongst the trees

Secret 5: Invest

This one is more of a mindset. If you go into your session with the end goal in mind, you’re far more likely to reach it.  

If the goal is to have a gorgeous photo of your beautiful family in the entry hall or living room, think about what you want that portrait to look like or the vibe it gives. This will not only help you find the right photographer, it’ll help bring all the details together.

Investing in a photographer can be really tricky, so here's the best way to ensure you've chosen the perfect photographer for you.

Capture Memories with me

American born, Northern Irish based Book a session