5 Tips On How To Take a Great Holiday Family Photo

Every year I gather my little family and take a Christmas picture. It started with my mom asking my sister and I to volunteer for an event being held at her job. She told us all of the volunteers had to wear red sweaters. Well, we showed up ready to volunteer in cute red sweaters and all of the other volunteers had on whatever they pleased. At the end of the event, we gathered around the Christmas display at her job and took great Christmas pictures. My mom found a way to get us all together for Christmas and I’ve just kept the traditional alive.


Styling a family photo can be stressful.  Not only do you need to get everyone at the same place at the same time but you also want to coordinate in a way that won’t look dated in 5 years. You want to showcase your family aesthetic without looking cheesy. I do take my own photos and I occasionally enlist a friend to help me take them with my camera. If you have iPhone or great camera on your phone the most I would recommend is having a tripod. You can leave your camera or phone on the tripod, set the timer, and slide into your family photo. (Which was my method this year)

5 Tips On How To Take a Great Holiday Family Photo

1. Location



If you love your home and have a great lighting situation then get some great candids at home around your Christmas tree. If you want to make it even easier for yourself, scoping out a great location will make a world of difference. Most department stores, shopping centers, and hotels have great Christmas displays where you can capture some family moments.  In the picture above we were in a hotel lobby. While you are out running errands if you notice a particularly scenic area keep a mental note because that could be your holiday backdrop and as a bonus it’s free!!

2. Wardrobe


Now for the challenge, what is everyone going to wear? Having a theme makes things a lot easier but be relaxed and go with the flow. Don’t go overboard because that is what can make your family photo look dated.  In the picture above the theme was pajamas. I bought everyone a set of pajamas that matched their body concerns and personal tastes.

Not into pajamas? I love styling holiday sweaters for holiday photo shoots. Instead of the traditional ugly holiday sweaters, I choose textures and accents associated with the holidays like lurex and sequins. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.  If two people have on an item that sparkles the other two can wear a solid texture.

Last tip: If you already have a dress or sweater you love, wear it! The holiday atmosphere will give it a whole new feel and you already know it looks good on you.



The amount of space that you have ultimately determine what kind of poses you can achieve. If you have limited space you will want to get as close and cozy as you possibly can. If you have a lot of space to work with and a wide angle lens you can get more creative. If you have limited space because you are in public, in a tight corner, or standing in front of a narrow backdrop (see the picture above) you still want to look natural.

Take a few shots where everyone smiles but if you have a friend or a photographer taking pictures get a few photojournalism shots too. These are unposed photographs where you’re being your natural self. Talk to each other and just take a few moments to soak up the moment and let the camera capture the rest.

The Argument (it will happen it’s a family photo)


I love my family but one of our favorite past times is arguing. It will be easy for your little one to get frustrated and it will also be easy for a family member to get frustrated while capturing these moments. We have a photo shoot safe word during our holiday shoot. When things get heated someone yells “Hallmark” and we all know to stop going back and forth and get back into picture mode.

If you have little ones I would recommend giving them an incentive of some kind like a toy or treat that they can have after they get through the photo shoot. Always shoot the kids first while they are still in a good mood or at the end depending on their mood.

Other good tips:

  • If you are shooting at home, take pictures in natural lighting. Try getting in front of a large window and opening the curtains to let in as much sunlight as possible.
  • Pick out your outfits in advance. It helps speed up the process if you are taking your own pictures. If you happen to come across great weather in December just get dressed, and take a ride around in search of a great location.
  • If you are a busy mom with no time for full glam, be sure to have moisturized skin, light powder, mascara, and some gloss. Make time to include yourself in your holiday memories.
  • Too cold to go outside? You can find great photography backdrops on Amazon (here. here) Just use a few thumbtacks or command strips to hang the backdrop on a wall that faces a window and start snapping.
  • If you are using these photos for your Christmas card Walgreens is your friend!! I have put together amazing cards at the last minute with their same day printing services. You can easily pick out a holiday template on https://www.walgreens.com and insert your family photo!

Here are a few of Christmas 2017 Holiday Photos:


My sister, Kay Rae’s Look, Dress: New York & Company Tall  similar, Shoes Nordstrom Rack: Similar



My daughter, Kaitlyn’s Look: Dress: Macy’s Similar,  Shoes: Target



Dress: Eloquii, Shoes: Payless, Old  (Similar)



My Mom’s Dress, Mynt 1492 sold out, option 1, option 2.  Shoes QVC 

I hope that you all enjoy your holiday season and find time to capture great moments with your family.


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