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7 Pro Tips on Achieving the *Perfect* Holiday Family Photo

Photo of photographer Morgan Pansing surrounded by holiday family photos.

A holiday family photo is one of the most precious and heartwarming photos you’ll take and share this year with family and friends. After all, it will be the star of your holiday cards! Seasoned photographer Morgan Pansing takes the guesswork out of everything from what to wear to how to make the experience fun and relaxing for little ones. Here are her top tips on taking a holiday family photo you and your loved ones will cherish forever. (Oh, and once you're ready to share your festive snaps, Evite's holiday cards make it easy to personalize and send them in minutes.)


Guest contributor: Morgan Pansing

Select a wardrobe that photographs well

  1. Opt for comfort. Be sure to pick outfits that feel authentically you. Whether it be holiday dressy, or casual jeans and t-shirts, make sure that you feel comfortable in the clothes you choose. 
  2. Pick a color palette with the full family in mind. I personally prefer a few different colors and textures together rather than being super matchy. Denim and white or off-white are always a winning combination. It works well to pair denim and white with a few different colors. Choose a specific color palette that complements each other—for example, pastels or earth tones.
  3. Stay away from small stripe patterns—they create a weird effect when photographed. Larger stripes are ok.
  4. Be wary of too many patterns. Be sure to intersperse any busy patterned clothing with more solid colors. 
  5. Stay away from lots of super dark colors. Darker colors can work well when they are interspersed with some lighter colors.

Choose a location that makes sense for you

I live in Los Angeles, so there are lots of beautiful outdoor locations, from the beach to roaming fields. Be sure to pick a location that will be fun and easy for your kids. I love in-home family shoots just as much as a gorgeous location. I think it is all about where your family will feel happiest. In-home shoots are typically easier than outdoor locations with smaller children. If you choose to shoot in-home, be sure that the space where you will shoot is clean and isn’t too cluttered. Studio shoots can also be a great way to go!

Pick the right timing

The best time of day to take photos is whenever the kiddos are the happiest, whether that be after nap time or in the morning after a good night’s sleep and a big breakfast! Late afternoon magic hour shoots are super gorgeous, but only if your kids are happy at that time. If you are shooting outside, be sure that the location has proper shade.

Go for poses that feel authentic

I love it when families are hugging and holding hands etc. I am a big fan of family snuggles. The closer you are to one another during the shoot, the more intimate everything feels. One of my favorite tricks is a game of family telephone where everyone whispers a word in someone’s ear. At the end, the kids are typically laughing and everyone is close together for a sweet family moment of togetherness.

Find the right photographer

There are so many different styles of family photography, from more posed shoots, to studio shoots, to natural lifestyle imagery. Make sure you love the work you see from the photographer you choose. You can always send an email with some questions about how the photographer works to see if they feel like the right fit. After you choose your photographer, you can feel free to share with them the specific shots that are important to you to accomplish during the shoot.

Be mindful of snacks and treats

Be sure that your kiddos have eaten well before the shoot. Try to stay away from snacks and treats during the shoot and wait until after the shoot, if possible. Candy, treats and snacks can really get in the way of the kids looking their best in the photos.

Have fun!

If you are having fun, the kids will typically be having fun as well! Make sure that your hair, makeup and wardrobe all feel great, and then relax and trust your photographer to capture the magic of your family!

Morgan is a Los Angeles-based photographer specializing in lifestyle and editorial imagery. She is always up for travel and is passionate about telling stories through her photography. Her featured work/select clients include Vogue, InStyle, Sézane, Kit Undergarments, Anthropologie, Rachel Pally, Jenni Kayne, goop, Wall Street Journal Magazine, Chalkboard Mag, Glamour Online and many more. Morgan can be found adventuring with her husband and two children, capturing all of the magic of the motherhood journey along the way! You can check out more of her work on her website and Instagram.

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