Tips For Surviving Multi-Family Photos When You Have Kids

Every year, we do family pictures with our whole extended family.  Fourteen people, from my parents who are in their sixties to my youngest nephew who is just about two, gather together and try to get photos taken with minimal crying and fighting (and that’s just us parents). After about a decade of family photos, here are my suggestions for surviving (and enjoying the day).

  1. Set low expectations. Big dude and little dude are expected to physically be in the photo. That’s it. Smiling, posing, or looking in a certain directing are all optional.
  2. Remember that you are capturing one specific moment. Last year, little dude’s face is visible in about three photos and this year, the majority of pictures including him sticking out his tongue or making a funny face. At the time, I was exasperated but when I look at last years’ photos, I instantly remember how for about three months, little dude thought it was hilarious to shake his butt at people.
  3. Be realistic about time. For our first two years of pictures with big dude, we all showed up at the same time and just hung out while other families where getting their photos done which resulted in a bored, over-stimulated big dude. Now we figure out a schedule ahead of time.  One family comes 30 minutes early and does their family photos, then we all show up and do the big group  photos (the first family can leave after this point), then family #2 (who can then leave when they are done) before family #3 does their photos (usually this is the family with the teenagers)
  4. If you are going to coordinate, keep it incredibly simple. We’ve tried coordinating the entire group, it is really hard to get everyone where the same colour/shade, so now we each coordinate our own families and aim to keep our colour schemes neutral.
  5. Don’t get in the photographers way but take a lot of candid shots. We all bring our own cameras and we take hundreds of photos.  We take photos of the cousins rough-housing and couples cuddling, we take photos as the photographer is getting people set up and we take a lot of selfies.

The point of the family photos anyway are to have memories of your family at certain points in time. Sometimes the best photos aren’t the ones where everyone has a perfect outfit, perfect smile, everyone is doing the same pose, etc. The perfect photo is one of your loved ones all being themselves, it makes for better memories in the years to come, where you don’t just remember how everyone looked, but their personalities really show, especially the kids.



Allison is a mom of two energetic boys.Constantly trying to balance life, often caught between the needs of her boys, financial reality and her own desire for a meaningful career, you'll find her leaning on her village in North Edmonton.Her philosophy of more experiences less stuff is constantly challenged by her kids love of all stuff.
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