Take a Good Family Photo

By Nora Heston Tarte

How many times have you tried to get a photo of the entire family smiling, and ended up with zero shots where everyone had their eyes open? The more kids you have, the harder it is to coerce good behavior out of all of them. Check out our cool tips for getting a family photo worthy of your mantle, or at least one you can post on Instagram without a “face with tears of joy” emoji attached.

Step 1: Hire a Professional Who Knows Kids.
Setting your camera to auto and hoping for the best isn’t exactly a surefire plan for getting a good shot. Instead, hire a professional to snap some photos of the whole family (some local photographers offer mini-sessions that cost less and take less time). Make sure whomever you hire is privy to how children act the second you put a camera in front of their face. If the photographer has their own kids, even better.

Step 2: Work on Their Schedule.
Scheduling a photo shoot during naptime or too close to dinner is a no-go for snapping a pretty shot. When kids are tired or hungry, they’re less likely to smile for the camera. And the big attitudes will show big time in your final product. Instead, be smart when you book a photo shoot. If you have a toddler who is most human in the mornings, make a Saturday AM appointment. Does your preteen get moody when your plans conflict with his? Avoid Friday afternoons when possible. The happier they are, the better your photo will be.

Step 3: Don’t Be Above Bribery.
When you need a two-year-old to say “cheese” on command, whip out a pack of M&Ms. Every (forced) smile gets a treat. You’ll be surprised how quickly that frown turns upside down. For older kids, offer up something equally enticing. Though you might find a bit of chocolate is a pretty universal pick-me-up. Offer your husband a piece, too.

Step 4: It’s Okay to Fake it.
If your toddler just isn’t having it, do what you must to get those smiles. Photographers know what poses garner happy faces, and you likely know your kid well enough to chime in. Throw them up in the air, tickle their toes, or point out airplanes in the distance. Anything to get an adorable, far-off gaze, or even (gasp!) some genuine smiles.

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