Family photographer’s top tips to avoid an awkward family photo.

A family photograph doesn’t have to be cheesy. You don’t all need to be wearing the same thing and facing the camera with fake grins.

 “I think that there’s a bit of a stigma around everyone wearing white T-shirts and blue jeans,” says Milk and Honey Photography co-founder Anni Payne.

 Some photos can be artworks. Image via Milk and Honey Photography.

Payne and her husband, Matthew Duchesne, have been photographing families for the past 20 years and they have been on a mission to capture authentic moments.

"Really were asking them just to enjoy themselves and enjoy the moment and it's up to us to capture that," she said.

They encourage people to wear their favourite clothes and loosen up.

"It's nothing to do with whether they're good looking or not that doesn't matter at all. It's more about showing the loving connection between the family and getting that moment when they're really enjoying being with each other," says Payne.

Payne has insider secrets that every professional photographer wants you to know:

  1. Decide on your preferred style of photography before your book a session. There are many photographers out there with many different styles, as well as different levels of price and experience. Choose your photographer based on their work first, see if it resonates with you and if it feels like the right fit for your family. Please don’t just shop around on price.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  2. A good oven doesn’t make a great chef, and owning a good camera and a business card doesn’t mean that you can take a great photo. Make sure that your photographer is an accredited professional with The Australian Institute of Professional Photography. That way you are sure to be working with a professional whose status has been formally validated and recognised.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  3. Talk to your photographer beforehand and pre-plan your portrait session. Let them know about your kid’s personalities, favourite activities and toys. This will help your photographer to engage more quickly with your family and help them to make suggestions that might help you get more out of your session.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  4. Context. Think about a location where your family will feel their best. Some of us are house proud and this is a part our lifestyle, others feel happiest out in a local park and this is a natural extension of our personalities and family style. Ask your photographer for some suggestions and give it some thought - your photos will be all the more meaningful for it.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  5. Wear your favourite clothes for your session. For natural, lifestyle photographs you really don’t need to wear white T-shirts and jeans. Rather, think of dressing the family as if you are creating an outfit for one person - clothes that work together but not in an obvious way. For example, you may choose blue and brown earthy tones with a splash of pink in the accessories.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  6. Consider having your hair and make-up done professionally beforehand. Obviously don’t overdo it for a natural look, but you’ll feel and look more confident in the final results.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  7. Consider bringing your pets along if they are a big part of the family. This may sound crazy but sometimes crazy is great for fun family photos (& our third child is a Cavoodle - we’d understand).
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  8. Now breathe. We all know it can be stressful getting the family out the door but once you’ve arrived forget about the last two hours and really try to enjoy the next one. The more relaxed and genuine you can feel, then the more natural you and your family will appear in the photographs.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  9. Trust your photographer. We want you to look good and so be assured that we are always thinking about the best light and the best background whilst also trying to engage with your family. We do this all the time and by helping us to make it all flow as smoothly as possible it will help you to get the most creative potential from your session.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  10. Respect that this is your photographer’s job, so please don’t bring out your mobile phone or camera to take your own photos. This is a major distraction for everyone and (hopefully) not why you’ve booked a professional. Besides you’ll get a lot more value out of the session if you relax into the moment and just let the experts do their job.
    Image via Milk and Honey Photography.
  11. Don’t worry if your children don’t smile or aren’t necessarily looking at the camera. Some of the best photographs are often the ones you didn’t realise were being taken. Leave the directing to the professional and trust them to capture and create in the best ways they know how.

Photographer Anni Payne also recommends regular shoots and getting the hard copies - framed at the end of your session.

"Families all seem to have at least one common human connection, and that is how much they love being a part of their family...It’s this connection that inspires us to create images that will hopefully reflect much of their character and their development - from pregnancies to toddlers, from pre-milk teeth to their ‘tweens and teens - images that they will treasure for a lifetime and perhaps even pass down as heirlooms for the generations yet to come," she said.
Thanks to Anni Payne from the husband and wife team at Milk and Honey photography.
One mother's photo series of her cute tiny baby against everyday objects.