Pro Tips on Styling and Loving Your Family Holiday Photo

We’re halfway through October and it’s time to book your holiday family photo session — that is, if you haven’t done it already! Photo cards have staying power and are on average kept longer and more often than regular cards. Plus, if you’re trying to save time spent sending cards out, companies like Shutterfly and Minted make it easy to upload your mailing list, so they can handle even that step for you. Boom! Love it. We have our photo shoot scheduled for this weekend, so I’m in the midst of finalizing what we’ll be wearing, if we want any props and so on. Yes, I am a little behind, but you don’t have to be! I’m sharing my tips on how to get your family photo just how you want it.

The first thing to remember is that it doesn’t need to be “perfect.” Your goal should be for the finished product to make you smile when you see it. The picture should embody your family’s style and vibe at this moment. Not only is the photo for your holiday cards, but it’s also a great excuse to preserve memories of what your family looks like today… in the moment. When I look back over our annual photos I feel a mixture of happiness remembering that time in our lives, sadness that some of our sweet dogs have since gone over the rainbow bridge, and blessed that no matter what life brings I have my family by my side. I’m a lucky girl. All this said, take the time to do a family photo this year — you’ll be happy you did. Here are some tips to help you curate outfits so the looks all complement each other and the whole photo looks more polished. Also, keep in mind that a little advance thought and prep work goes a long way.

  • PRO TIP 1 | Choose an underlying color theme. Black, blue, berry, burgundy – all flattering colors that photograph nicely and subtly say “holiday.” Depending on how many people are in your family, you may want to choose a couple of complementary colors (e.g., black & white or blue & burgundy) or stick to one color in both dark and light shades. Darker solids are always more flattering in photos (meaning more slimming). Also, there’s less chance of a color clash. Red & gold or blue & silver are more obviously holiday, but look pretty together and more glam-festive. Subtle prints can work well, but again make sure that everyone’s colors and styles are working together and not everyone should wear a print — break the prints up with solids.
  • PRO TIP 2 | Select a style theme. Dressy clothes or casual clothes?  Dad is going to look out of place in his jeans if everyone else is dressed up and vice versa.
  • PRO TIP 3 | Avoid colors that aren’t complementary. Just as you would not wear orange and green together in one outfit, don’t let Dad wear green and one of the kids wear orange. Total color clash. Don’t wear red and green together unless you are intentionally going for a Christmas theme, then make it obvious and a little cheesy.
  • PRO TIP 4 | Enhance with accessories. Touches of metallic — gold, bronze or silver (pick one!) — can also be used to add a rich, festive feel to the look through accessories, including jewelry, hair clips, cuff links or shoes.
  • PRO TIP 5 | Hold a dress rehearsal. Next, have each family member try on their outfit from head to toe at least a week prior to the shoot and look at the style and color of clothing and accessories together with a critical eye. Think about where you are shooting the photo (inside or outside?) and what the lighting will be like. Determine if anyone’s outfit would benefit from tailoring. Does it need to be dry cleaned or ironed? Shoes polished? Make sure these tasks are done a day or two before to avoid scrambling around at the last minute.
  • PRO TIP 6 | Schedule grooming appointments. Don’t forget to plan ahead and schedule hair cuts and colors, so everyone looks their best. Have pets? Make sure to schedule their grooming appointments a few days prior to pictures. If you have more than one pet, you may want to make it easier on yourself and hold your photo shoot at home.
  • PRO TIP 7 | Scout locations in advance. We shoot our photo at home every year simply because we have dogs, so it’s much easier. If you can go on location, it’s a great way to shake things up, especially if you tend to shoot the same background every year. Of course, this always requires some advance planning and discussion with your photographer. If you are doing photos at home like us, it’s still a good idea to think about where you want to shoot (outside light is generally the best) and consider how the lighting (sun, shadows, etc.) will be during the time of day you’ll be standing there. If you’re going to be outside in your yard, plan ahead to make sure your lawn is mowed and bushes are manicured. In Arizona, we need to worry about when and if our winter grass will be in yet… something to consider.
  • PRO TIP 8 | Recruit an assistant. Lastly, I recommend having a friend on hand to help manage your little ones, pets, the lint roller, blotting powder to eliminate makeup shine, and lend a critical eye at the shoot. This can be invaluable.

Here are a few of our family photos with different color themes and combinations for inspiration, including the above one from 2016. The Keller holiday photo for 2017 is coming soon! All photos are by Jacqueline Hanna Photography.





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