Getting ready to take family photos can be a daunting task filled with questions. (What should we wear? Where should we go? How do we get a photo that doesn’t look forced?) We asked a couple of our favorite photographers for some photography tips that might help you feel better prepared for your upcoming photo session.

Tips from Christy Bode Photography & Sarah Halstead Photography:

1. Find someone who shares your style.
Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
When choosing a photographer, make sure you like their style and their quality of work by reviewing their website, blog and Facebook page. If you only ‘sort of like’ their photos, or ‘sort of like’ their style, definitely keep searching! You want to love your images and finding a photographer with a style you love is the first step. ~Christy

2. Plan what to wear.
Photography Tips from Photographers
This is the most common question I get from families. My advice is to definitely plan your outfits ahead of time. Doing this will help you love your photos even more. With that said, it doesn’t need to be stressful, and don’t be afraid to ask your photographer for help or ideas. I typically recommend dressing the girls first, then go to the boys. If you have all boys like I do, that means starting with yourself. ~Christy

Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
It is best to color coordinate versus matching. For example, if everyone is wearing the same solid color colored shirt, it may end up looking more like a uniform. Family photos are fun-everyone should get to show their personality! I recommend choosing an outfit scheme of 3-4 colors. Textures and layers show up nicely in photos. Always avoid logos. Timeless looks are the best vs. a current trend. Simple attire with solid colors or small patterns is key! ~Sarah

3. Schedule a time that works for your family.
Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
Schedule your sessions around your kids’ nap times and meal times. Kiddos are often the happiest in the morning so that’s what I tend to recommend, but you know your children best. When you arrive at your session, plan on being there 5-10 minutes early. Let the kiddos out of the car and adjust to the location. Also, make sure clothing is in order, touch up your hair and your makeup. I’m not pretending we’re all perfect, but you’ll be happier with the photos if everyone is looking sharp! ~Christy

If you don’t have any time constraints, the best time for outdoor photos is an hour or two before sunset. ~Sarah

4. Think about location.
Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
Location plays a big role in the look and feel of your photos. Are you looking for natural landscapes? Trees, benches, parks or lakes? Or do you prefer an urban feel? If shooting before sunset doesn’t work for you, make sure you pick a place with some shade to get out of the direct sun. ~Sarah

5. Don’t be nervous.
Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
Just be yourself. As a photographer, it’s definitely my goal to try and get a picture of everyone looking and smiling at the camera, but the moments when you are ‘you‘ are some of my absolute favorites, even for my own personal family photos. Interact with your family during the session. Laugh, tell stories, tickle your kids, just have fun! Your photographer will be standing by capturing these moments that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. ~Christy

Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
During family shoots, just remember to be yourself and have fun! Make it an outing not an appointment. Mood shows through photos. To ensure the best images, just relax and enjoy yourself and your loved ones! ~Sarah

There you have it, 5 helpful photography tips from photographers Christy and Sarah. If you have a tip you’d like to share, let us know by commenting below! And once you have your photos, be sure to shop for this year’s Christmas cards to spread the joy this holiday season.