10 Ways To Make Christmas Family Photos Stand Out


Family photos can be difficult and you don’t need added holiday stress to create family Christmas pictures. These top 10 tips will help you make your family photos stand out in your Christmas card pictures. They are easy tips for families of all sizes and ages. I hope they help you to capture a great family moment during your professional family photoshoot.

Hi everyone!  My name is Angie and I am the author of The Arthur Clan and a professional photographer who lives in northeast Ohio.

I was absolutely thrilled when Laurie invited me to be a part of her Top 10 Holiday Trends to share some tips on how to make your family Christmas pictures stand out this year.  It definitely is that time of year when many of us begin thinking about the card we’d like to send out to our family and friends in celebration of the upcoming holidays.

Related ➜ 9 Family Photo Christmas Card Ideas {DIY}

Christmas family photos

Make sure to prepare for your photoshoot by getting the coordinating clothing, going at the right time, planning ahead, and bribing the kids ;). Make sure to capture different angles, incorporate activity, and make sure to get close and personal. Don’t forget to be creative!

Turk familyMe and My Family Photo Credit: Laurie Turk

Make Your Christmas Family Photo Stand Out

I think that one great way to make your card unique is to personalize it by incorporating family photos. After Christmas when I am cleaning up all the holiday mess in my home, I know that the cards I usually save (vs. the ones that are tossed into my children’s bin of art supplies) are those that either had a personal note included on them and those that are actually a photo of the loved one who sent it to me.

Whether you are having your photo taken by a professional photographer, are trying to capture the image yourself, there are quite a few things you can do to make your family photoshoot a successful endeavor and then completely “wow” everyone who receives Christmas photo cards from you this month.

Here are just a few simple tips on how to capture the best family picture you possibly can:

1. Coordinating clothing.

Photo Credit: Angie from The Arthur Clan

I highly recommend to all of my clients that they choose clothing that coordinates but that isn’t all the same. Overall, you don’t want everyone in your family photos to look like a clone of everyone else…this immediately sets your photo back in time (to when the cool thing to do was to have everyone in the photo wear white shirts with blue jeans) and it also makes everyone in the photo blend together rather than letting their distinct personalities shine through. Your family photos will have more style and class if your family picture outfits fall in the neutral colors category with one (or maybe two) complimentary colors running between them.

2. Casual family photos are good.

Photo Credit: Angie from The Arthur Clan

The family pictures that I enjoy looking at the most are ones where the family is relaxed, casual and acting like themselves rather than posed and formal with big “Cheese!!!” smiles. If you are taking the photo yourself, you can easily set up the environment to be fun and relaxed for your entire family. If you are hiring a professional family photographer to take the photo for you, I would recommend that you really look through their online website, blog, and portfolio to see if their style of casual family photos is the right fit for you and your family.

3. Choose the right time.

Photo Credit: Angie from The Arthur Clan

I have four children that range in age from 6 to 12 and I can wrangle them together for a photo pretty much any time of the day. This was not the case when they were younger though. If you have little ones, choose the time for your photo session wisely by taking into account their nap schedule, eating times, etc. If you are using a professional family photographer, they will definitely appreciate being able to photograph a child who is well-rested rather than one who happened to skip his nap so that you could make it to the photo session on time.

For outdoor family photos, the time of day can be crucial as well since your photographer will be looking for good light to take the photo in instead of harsh light that will be unflattering and cause squinting watery eyes. Don’t forget, fall family photos might be best at different times than the winter family, and summer family photos.

4. Incorporate an activity.

Photo Credit: Jessica Paige from One Willow

One of the easiest ways to capture great family photos is by setting up a fun activity to include as part of the family photoshoot. For fun family, Christmas photos, grab a big box of decorations and head out to a group of pine trees and let your family decorate them. Put your heads together on a quilt and have your husband reel off a slew of jokes that will give everyone the giggles.  Let everyone get a little wet in the ocean for fun family beach pictures. Pile on the bed and read a Christmas story together for sweet Christmas card pictures. When you have your photo session revolve around an activity, you will end up with casual family photos that show off a family that is relaxed and having a great time together.

5. Bribery can get you everywhere.

Photo Credit: Angie from The Arthur Clan

It didn’t take me becoming a professional photographer to learn that a little bribery can go a long way in ensuring a good family picture….as a mom, it was easy to figure that out too! Whether you have a few treats tucked away for good behavior or you reward through claps, hugs, laughs, and kisses, children (and dads too!) deserve to be rewarded for a job well done on a family photo shoot. At one recent family picture session I captured, the mom included the treat by having a candy party for me to photograph in the middle of their session! I’d have to say that those kids were some of the happiest that I’ve ever captured and didn’t require any fancy photography poses!

6. Get close and personal.

Photo Credit: Angie from The Arthur Clan

The background setting that you choose can easily set the entire mood of your photo. I love outdoor family photos, but having an incredible background isn’t completely necessary for a good family picture. With children photography, getting up close and personal is one way that you can really show off the personality of each member of your family and draw the viewer right into the moment. If you have to take your photo in a place that has a “less-than-perfect” background, getting close for the photo can easily cut out all of the distractions that would have drawn the viewer’s attention away from your family as well.

7. Capture a different angle.

Photo Credit: Angie from The Arthur Clan

Think out-of-the-box for this year’s Christmas card pictures and try shooting your photo from a different angle than you’d typically think of. Even if your photo doesn’t necessarily focus on the face, it can still tell a wonderful story about your family. Outdoor family photos are perfect for trying out some new angles. Let your family photographer follow your kids as they explore and you’ll get some great family photos.

8. Make a collage.

Collages make great Christmas photo cards. Did you finish your family photo shoot and end up with 10 wonderful photos of your family rather than just one? Make them into a collage and show them all off! This is a great way to have one photo of the entire family and then a bunch of other little photos included as well. It is also a great way to combine your fall family photos with your summer family photos.

Photo Credit: Susan from Short on Words and Susan Keller Photography

And this second version she came up with as well that combines some family beach pictures and includes the family pet. These causal family photos won’t require and photography poses or even an official family photo shoot. They are also an easy way to get family photos with babies who might not cooperate during a professional family photo shoot. If your family isn’t all in one place this year, it is a great way to still get family Christmas pictures.

9. Plan ahead.

Photo Credit: Jessica Paige from One Willow

For family portrait photography, you can easily dress the kids, line them up, beg them to smile, and hope to capture some Christmas card pictures. Or, you could spend some time really thinking about how you’d like your photo to turn out and come up with something that is amazing, creative, and unique to your family.

For our recent family photo shoot, I knew that I wanted to fall family photos for our Christmas photos. I spent several months planning exactly how I wanted our session to be set up (ie. color scheme, outfits for each family member, props, location, etc.) Obviously, my family photographer incorporated her vision and style into the session as well but having a prepared mom made everything so much easier for her and gave her something pretty incredible to work with.

10. Be creative…in a sensible way.

And finally, please be sure to think about your idea.  Is it going to embarrass your kids? Are you planning Christmas card pictures that make your husband wear antlers for holiday cheer or pajamas so that he can match the kids? If so, you might want to rethink your plan. While I applaud and encourage creativity, anything that could make your family Christmas pictures show up on Awkward Family Photos should be avoided at all costs.

I hope that you’ll find these tips helpful as you prepare to have your family photos.  Have fun, be creative, and enjoy showing off your beautiful family with your Christmas card pictures this year!

What did I miss?

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About Angie:

Angie is a happily married mom of four who spends quite a bit of her time capturing and editing photos for her family portrait photography business, Angie Arthur Photography. She blogs stories about her family and shares family and children photography tips at The Arthur Clan. She is also the co-founder of I Heart Faces, an online photography sharing forum that encourages everyone to join in their fun (and free!) weekly photo challenges. She loves outdoor family photos, casual family photos, and she’d love to have you follow along with her on Twitter and Facebook if you’d like to keep up-to-date on her current tips and giveaways.


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~ Laurie {a.k.a. the Tip Junkie}

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Laurie Turk Family Portrait for Christmas Card Square
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  1. FABULOUS post Angie!! and what I like BEST……….most of these tips can be used all year long for great family photos……..you are my HERO Angie!

  2. Those were great ideas. I loved the photos.
    Kids can be such fun subjects…..if they’ll just have fun.
    Parent can have fun too, but they gotta relax and let everyone have a good time!
    That is so captrured !!!

  3. This post is just FANTASTIC! It is filled with lots of practical and WONDERFUL ideas that will help you get the best Christmas card you can get! Thank you for putting all of these ideas into one concise post.

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