The idea to take a family portrait always comes from the best intentions whether it be documenting a new addition to the family or finally taking a professional frame worthy one to go over the mantle.

However, sometimes the best intentions can’t save you from fiascos like the family portrait episode of Modern Family.

If you’re not familiar with the show, this episode depicts all the snafus that happen leading up to what Claire, the neurotic and hyper-organised mum, is planning to be the perfect family photo.

Needless to say, the end result is far less than what she expected, but a perfect depiction of their family none-the-less.

Even though keeping dirt off your toddler is a feat and having your husband’s hair in place may take a miracle, here’s a few tips to ensure your family portrait looks doesn’t look like the end of the Modern Family episode (where everyone is covered in mud):

Go professional

Professional photography is an investment, but we know you’ll be much happier with the final outcome when opting for a pro over your camera’s timer.

We have all seen those overly posed photos where smiles look fake and everyone’s posture is stiff. Professionals know how to capture good candid photos and put your family in poses that are flattering and natural, which is key to getting that photo you dream of blowing up to hang on a wall in your home.

If you’re tight on money, look into photography students at the closest college or university. These places are great for finding talented, budding photographers who are looking to build their portfolios and don’t have enough years in the business to ask for big bucks.

Once you receive the digital version of all your photos then have them printed at a company such as The Canvas factory, they can print your photos on canvas, aluminum or the original framed pieces.

Your family will look stunning on your walls forever, even if they don’t approve.

Try to coordinate

 Coordinate does not mean the same thing as matching.

Unless you’re dead set on having a picture where your family is all in the same exact outfit, just give general direction with these main points.

  • No clothing with words or labels.
  • No clothing with extreme colours or intricate prints (stripes are okay, but anything else may distract from your family’s faces).
  • No crazy hairstyles or any other style alterations that you wouldn’t wear on a typical day.

Pick a colour scheme that is natural and flattering for everyone. You can’t go wrong with jeans and a white top or colours like navy, black or gray.

Your clothes shouldn’t be the subject of the photograph, your family is, so let the clothes be understated so you and your family are the standouts.

Have fun with it

You might feel inclined to scream the moment your kids want to run or jump or play in an attempt to keep clothing spotless, but let the kids have fun.

Sure, you can let them know you want to get a few shots before any playing so they can give grandma and grandpa a photo where they look clean, pretty and sharp, but after that give them permission to let loose.

Even letting your kids or husband come up with a pose or goofy picture idea may result in your favourite photo of the day.

Just have fun with it, that’s the best way to get a genuine happy photo.

Use bribery

We can’t control our kid’s moods any more than we can control the weather, but sometimes the promise of an ice-cream cone or getting a new toy for good behaviour can keep the peace long enough to get photos without pouty faces asking “when is this over?!”

Do we wish our kids would behave simply by telling them to do so? Of course. Will anyone looking at your family photos know you got those smiles through bribery? Absolutely not.

Bribery is your ammunition should things go haywire, use it wisely.

No matter what, the number one thing to remember when taking family photos is that these are the people you’re going through life with. We’ve all got our quirks and oddities, but they are what make us unique and lovable (for the most part).

Embrace the weirdness, but even if you do end up with a scenario straight out of a Modern Family episode, these tips will help you get at least a few good photos before your kids start flinging mud.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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  • Thank you for the tips, cheers.


  • If I had a photo shoot done, it would definitely be done by a professional. We would all wear our good clothes and hopefully it would turn out ok


  • we did a shoot once and was told to either all wear black or all wear white. It was for a baby shoot though.. Turned out ok.


  • Interesting read, thanks for the tips.


  • There’s so many photographers out there now so much more affordable to to get prints done. I tend to wait for offers on those ‘one day deal’ sites so make the most of the cost savings.


  • I’d love to get a family portrait done, I just don’t know how well my family would sit still for it.


  • it s just great


  • it is really great to read


  • great to read


  • Haha use bribery. I love it. No intricate patterns is a good tip too!


  • I think I will have to resort to a professional doing a family portrait as we have tried and it is so hard getting us all smiling AND sitting still.


  • great tips, thanks for sharing


  • So many good points to help avoid disappointment :-)


  • Great information. Thank you


  • We’ve never done this, but I’d love to. Although with my family they’d want the dog and fish involved too – could be interesting!


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