HDYDI: Plan (and Capture) Rockin’ Family Photos

I am a believer that every family should take professional family photos at least once in your lifetime.

Okay, that’s a lie.

I think you should take them way more than that.

Let’s chat about why I love family photos, how we plan for them and what you can do to fit them into your family budget.

1. In our house, we have the most lovely curved wall on our staircase. If ever, in the event of a fire in our home, the photos that hang on that wall will be the first things I grab, besides people, and just before the Nutella. Back in 1997, when Scott and I were making a whole $900 month (combined!) we squirreled away some cash and began the, now yearly, family photo. For the first five years, it was just us. Then, we added little people. And lots of ’em the following 13 years. Just look at the family we used to be!

HDYDI: Plan (and Capture) Rockin' Family PhotosI can’t tell you the hours we’ve spent looking back at our old family photos, admiring how we’ve grown and changed. As a little girl, I remember sitting in my grandmother’s house poring over old photographs. Do yourself, and your future family members a favor. Take family photos. It’s an investment you will never regret. Promise.

2. Don’t let your fears over your body’s imperfections keep you from capturing life. Ladies, I know you feel me. Six babies later and I have a little extra around the middle I’d rather not document. But you know what? I’m doing it anyway. Push aside the negativity and your fears and get your hiney, in all its glory, into the photos with your kids and husband. You love these people. Don’t ever forget that. I think some of my favorite photos growing up are the ones of me with my parents. Give your kids that same gift.

3. What can I say, I’m a planner. I start thinking about next year’s photos as we’re wrapping up the current year’s. I know. It’s a sickness. You don’t have to plan that far in advance, but don’t expect to call a photographer after Thanksgiving and schedule a photo shoot before Christmas. Find a photographer you love and schedule the date early. We typically call our photographer in August or early September and then shoot the photo in mid- to late-October.

4. When planning your clothes, think about your location. When we shot our urban/eclectic photos, these clothes were perfect.

HDYDI: Plan (and Capture) Rockin' Family PhotosSome folks go for a specific color palette, or clothes style. My best advice? Find one outfit or statement piece you love and build everything else around it. And, don’t give yourself the short end of the stick momma! We usually try everything on a few days before and I iron or repair anything that needs some love. Also, don’t forget about the shoes. I made a panicked 911 call to my neighbor last year. Don’t be that friend. But if you are, Facebook can be your lifesaver.

5. Avoid the matchy matchy. Ok, so I did break the rule for this gem.HDYDI: Plan (and Capture) Rockin' Family PhotosWorth it? Worth it. It’s one of my most pinned photos on the blog (holla to the Aggies) and truly, one of the easiest clothes years ever! I designed the t-shirts and then had them printed at CustomInk. No, I can’t sell the design. I have to pay some crazy high fee to A&M because of a thing called trademark. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to market them. For my non-Aggie readers those numbers represent everyone’s graduation year from Texas A&M. I believe we call that #raisinemright

6. Take at least one photo of you and your other half. Yes, once upon a time it was just “Scott and Kathryn.” Every year, we kick the kids out of the frame and enjoy a little Mr. and Mrs. photo time. I adore those moments.HDYDI: Plan (and Capture) Rockin' Family Photos

7. How to make family photos affordable? Plan ahead. Maybe you have a friend who’s trying to build his or her portfolio and they need a family to practice some skills. Or, maybe your favorite photographer is doing mini-sessions or they have a photo special going on. Perhaps you can swap services. Throughout the year, we opt out of school photos (a complete racket for sub-par images) and I apply that money to our family photos. I used to print images for the grandparents and other extended family and friends, but now I just send them the link for ordering if they’re interested. I was always ordering the wrong size or orientation anyway! Bottom line, it’s a priority in our house and so we plan accordingly.

8. Enjoy the heck out of them. We have family photos all over our house. While I do stash some in photo albums from past years and I have tons in digital format, I keep many more on display. I love photos. Can you tell? Photos are meant to be enjoyed, I say.

Later this week, we’re off to take this year’s family pic. Details coming via the ‘gram if you follow me over there. Any guesses on our location? Hint: cowboy boots fit right in at this place.

Happy snapping, y’all!


  1. Debbie C. on October 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

    I love your photos. My husband’s family was never really big on the family photo thing so I have gradually worked him into the plan. We just had ours taken in a forest preserve this past weekend as the fall colors were peaking (we live outside of Chicago so fall is beautiful here)! I can’t wait to see them. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Nicole on October 21, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Love this post – and have always loved your family photos! Absolutely beautiful! Jim and I were JUST talking about this the other night…it’s time. We really need to get some new ones taken of our family. It seems the main time we get them is when we welcome a new little one. Love your suggestions. Your ideas. Hmm… I don’t think we can squeeze them in this fall – but maybe in the spring? I’m feeling inspired! Can’t wait to see your new pix soon!

  3. Marjorie on October 21, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This post is excellent! I hope you don’t mind if I share it on my photography Facebook page (I have about 800 followers)? This post is so helpful with budget and I can’t agree with you more about booking early! I’m getting daily emails with families looking to book a session this October. I’ve been booked for months already!

    I also hire a professional photographer to capture my family and I every year too. It’s a worry investment in something I treasure. Yes, even photographers hire photographers 🙂

    • Kathryn on October 21, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Share away! And thank you for your sweet words.

  4. Shannon on October 21, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I will also add that with kids, you never know how the shoot will go and that’s OK. They’re kids and you’ve probably put them in some new, scratchy (but adorable) outfit and uncomfortable shoes. This is not their idea of fun. Just roll with it and don’t worry if your kids aren’t angels. A decent child photographer has seen EVERYTHING, usually has a few tricks and will get you at least one good one for the wall or holiday card. When mom and dad are relaxed, generally the kids are as well.

    • Kathryn on October 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Yep. Great advice, Shannon. You would know!!

  5. Nicole on October 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I love this post. Although we haven’t had family photos taken in WAY too long (I think it’s been 5 years?). Hubby is not as keen on it, but now sees the value in hiring a professional. And yes – momma needs to get in some photos! Kristen Duke has been preaching that for quite some time (I think you know her?).

    And you know what? Even if you don’t hire that photographer, having a friend grab a snapshot is always a good idea.

  6. Jenny on November 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Taking our pictures this weekend…pray for us.

    • Kathryn on November 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      Oh, have fun!! I love family picture day.

  7. Sarah on February 4, 2016 at 9:22 am

    I firmly believe in professional family photos too! We’ve had them done a few times and are now of the mind that we want to have them done every other year. They are soo important for so many reasons! Love the ideas here! Thanks for posting!

    • Kathryn on February 4, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Yes, they really are!

  8. Texas Forever Y'all - Team Whitaker on May 2, 2016 at 7:00 am

    […] Like, love them, even though I am not loving my mid-section right now. I’ve blogged about how to plan for and capture awesome photos and a few tips on finding the right […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.