I love family photographs! We set out to get ours done, and let me tell you, getting it right can be a big production. But if you are prepared well, I think any family can get amazing family photographs. Here are 10 steps to it.

1. Start planning early

It took me a week to find a good photographer and schedule an appointment. It took about two weeks to gather and decide on the right color scheme and clothes. And it took some time to scout out the spot we wanted to go to and wait for the fall leaves to turn more yellow. Prepping is vital so start at least a few weeks early.

2. Find a good photographer

Since my husband is a professional photographer himself, we have always thought that he could take our family photos. The last time we attempted this was a miserable mess, and we ended up with only three photos we liked. We bought a remote and had all of the professional gear but sometimes we didn't like the angle, focus, etc., and we were struggling with only one wiggly child, with two we knew we needed a pro.

If you have children, I highly recommend hiring someone (and someone professional to take your photos). It is worth the expense. Trust me if I say this because I'm extremely frugal and was more than happy to pay for the photos we now have.

3. Choose clothing carefully

Use solids, patterns, and layering for visual interest. Be careful to not do too much of one thing. I think you should have at least three or more different colors, textures, and patterns that work together but will balance and round off the look. But, this is totally up to your style and taste. Whatever you do, layout or try on the clothes beforehand to make sure they are working well together.

Another important thing to consider is comfort, functionality, weather, and how the colors you've picked will look against the back drop of your photo shoot. I changed the colors of my wedding due to this rule. We booked an amazing venue but my original colors aqua, pink, and silver would have clashed bad. So I changed my color to purple hues and it worked well in the venue. Do the same for your photo shoot.

Plan for cold weather or reschedule if the weather is bad. But don't be afraid if it's overcast. You can get awesome ranges of colors on an overcast day. And if you have kids, don't wear white until you are ready to be photographed. I made sure to put my white shirt on/change after the kids were strapped into the car seats and everything was ready to go.

4. Get help getting ready

I was able to get my neighbor to watch the kids (I paid her) while I got ready. It's difficult for me with two children under three to get ready. If you are stressed when you arrive it will be difficult to enjoy the experience.

Arrange a play date or babysitter to help with small kids so you can look and feel your best.

5. Take extra outfits, diapers, and shoes for little ones

I had a bag of an entire extra outfit (pulled from the closet) for both kids just incase of blowout, etc.

And although my son hopped into the river and got his jeans wet, we just went forward with the shoot. If he would have slowed down, or if it was more serious (a blowout, etc.), we would've stopped and changed.

6. Take snacks and favorite toys to bribe young children and get them to look at the camera.

We had some fruit snacks for my son to keep him happy and our photographer was nice enough to give my son a Cliff Bar.

We should have brought a bell or whistle or something that made a rattling noise and had the photographer rattle it to capture the attention of our 11 month-old but we got lucky and for the most part she was looking where we wanted her to.

So just in retrospect, we would've been better off bringing those things along.

7. If you have kids, don't expect perfection

I admit I was a little disappointed that my son was as wild as he normally is. I was hoping he would sit still and smile for the camera just as I had planned.

Boy was I in for a wake up call! During our session, he didn't stop moving, was in the water and dirt, had sticks and stones and was everywhere all the time - pretty much like normal.

Normally we are pretty strict as parents, but when you are wanting to keep a kid happy for photos you kind of lax a bit. So we did the best we could but let him run free for most of the shoot. And surprise! I was so happy when our photographer sent me the photographs. There were about 100 great photos and 30 we LOVED. Many of the ones I adore are of my son being himself.

So my lesson was learned, now you can avoid it too. Don't be like me and get discouraged if your kids are being kids. Let them be themselves and hopefully your photographer will capture their amazing individual and unique personalities. It can make for some pretty fun and humorous photos that you'll cherish!

8. Suggest edits or edit photos. Print correctly

Post processing is very important. Be communicative with your photographer about what you like or don't like about a photo. Is there a hair stuck to your eyelash? Chances are he/she can edit it out. Is there a blemish you'd rather not see on a large printed canvas? Have them edit it out. Professional photographers can even warm up an image or change the lighting, dodge, and burn, etc.

On this same note, print your photographs at the highest resolution you can for larger prints. You can ruin the best photographs by taking a small file and trying to print it large. Google, or ask your photographer if you have questions on what size photograph (pixels) you need for certain sized prints.

9. Choose a location you'll enjoy and fits your personality

We LOVE the mountains. We feel at home in them, and it is a good representation of who we are. I love photo shoots in people's homes, at their cabins, and at locations that mean something to them or that are unique and interesting. Ask your photographer for ideas if you can't think of any.

10. Schedule your photography session when there is good lighting

As a wife of a professional landscape photographer I hear about lighting ALL the time. Light is such an important aspect of a photograph.

Mornings and early evenings are great for lighting (its softer 'sweet light'-as my husband says). Overcast days are also good. Try and schedule your photo shot (if possible) during the times of day when the light isn't super intense and blaring in your face, making you squint and sweat.

Or if mornings or evenings is not at all possible, try to take your photographs in a grove of trees or some type of shade/light mix.

Finally, enjoy and share the end product - that's the funnest part!

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Live Like You Are Rich. It has been modified and republished here with permission.

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